Rally rider leaves the peloton behind
Sara Poidevin is heading into her third year as a pro, racing for Rally Cycling. A strong climber, she turned heads last year in Colorado, demolishing the peloton on the steep climbs to the finish and sweeping all of the winner’s jerseys. Recently, the soft-spoken Albertan took some time to reflect on her career so far. How did you get started with bikes? When we were living in Cochrane, I was riding my bike to school when I was young, going with my mom every day. Once we moved to Canmore, we got more into mountain biking.
I started riding with the local mountain bike club in Canmore, the Rundle Mountain Cycling Club. I wanted to get into winter training as well, but at the time they only spring and summer programs, so I started working with a coach in Calgary. He was also the coach for the Alberta Cycling Association, so I got some opportunities to race for the provincial team doing both road and mountain bike racing.
When I was 16, I felt stronger on a road bike, so I wanted to put more effort into that. I joined the Bicisport Calgary Cycling Club.
And now you’re studying at the University of Calgary? Yes, I am studying kinesiology. It’s really busy, but there are a few students on Rally Cycling, so we fit in study sessions around our training rides to make it work. Katherine Maine is in kinesiology. Allison Beveridge is in the same program as me. Kelly [Catlin] is at school in math; Emma White is in computer science. Gillian Ellsay is also taking some classes. Erica Allar is taking her masters in education. One of our riders is still finishing high school.
How do you all fit in your studies when at a training camp? When we’re at a training camp, we’re training together. Then we have time together off the bike. Then we all have our time where we need to do our recovery stuff, and study as well. We give each other time to work alone, but also figure out when we need time together.
It’s pretty funny. We will talk a lot about what courses we’re taking, and we’re also good at keeping each other motivated to study in the evenings.
Last year in Colorado, you swept all of the jerseys at the Colorado Classic after leaving the entire peloton behind. What was that like? I’ve wanted to race in Colorado for a long time because it’s such a beautiful. That event was a lot of fun. Some of my teammates and I went down a week early to get altitude-ready and get familiar with the area. The race was on beautiful roads through parks, and then way up in Breckenridge the next day. It was a really good event overall.
How have you developed your race-craft skills? I think our team has done a really good job of developing those skills. Rally Cycling has riders who have a lot of skills and who can give us advice. We always have a detailed plan going into every race, and then always have a debrief after, so we’re learning from our mistakes at every event, too.
Who do you look up to in the sport? Leah Kirchmann has been my mentor through the Bridge the Gap program, and has been an amazing role model for all cyclists in Canada. She’s always been good at communicating with me even though she’s busy racing. She always takes the time to reach out to see what’s going on.
Most of her advice is tied to specific situations, so it really helps me understand the details of the sport.
“Leah Kirchmann has been my mentor through the Bridge the Gap program, and has been an amazing role model for all cyclists in Canada. ”