Llori Sharpe finding her feet in Europe
DESPITE FAILED attempts to get her Schengen visa via the German Embassy, Jamaican female cyclist,Llori Sharpe was able to secure the travel document, courtesy of the Spanish Embassy to arrive in time for her first training camp in Europe with her new employers, CANYON/SRAM.
Sharpe, the first Jamaican female cyclist contracted to ride in Europe, was due to arrive on January 13 for the team’s training camp in Mallorca, Spain.
However, the German consulate denied her the visa, which threatened to derail her arrival in Europe.
Nevertheless, after the intervention of government and other high-ranking officials, the Schengen visa was granted by the Embassy of Spain at the last minute.
SETTLING INTO NEW ENVIRONMENT
The former St Andrew High School student said she has quickly put that unfortunate episode behind her and is settling well into the new environment.
Although still adjusting to some of the changes, Sharpe said she is enjoying the experience.
“I’m just glad I made it to the first training camp and start my season on a good note,” was all she offered regarding the visa delay.
“Training has been great. The tranquillity and quietness of the area [where] my team is training in allows us to focus better.
“I’m still getting used to the weather. Europe is still going through winter and Jamaica is hot year-round, so it’s a drastic change.
“But thanks to the wonderful people behind CANYON/SRAM, I’m equipped with the proper kit to keep me as warm as possible,” she told The Gleaner.
At this stage of the season, the focus is on building endurance. However, being in a professional environment helps to foster her competitive spirit.
“Back home (Jamaica), my sessions are usually early morning and/or afternoon into late evening.
“Here, my sessions usually start mid-morning and end early afternoon. Although a change, I’m definitely enjoying getting more sleep,” she noted.
“Also, I really like training with an actual team and like-minded people, who are all aiming for a common goal.
“I enjoyed riding with the guys back in Jamaica, but a lot of them are recreational, and, as such, a shift to a more professional environment is highly likely to boost my competitive cycling prospects,” she assessed.
CLOSER TO DREAM
Sharpe believes the move to Europe will put her much closer to her dream of qualifying for a major global championship, although she has set no real targets for the season, other than fine-tuning her skills and strengthening her weak points.
“I do think it’s better to dedicate a great portion of the season to not only develop a good foundation, but to also fine-tune weaker areas.
“I’ll definitely be working on the more technical aspects of cycling which would not only boost my confidence, but sound bike skills are extremely important to properly execute both individual and collective race tactics.
“As the season progresses and as I compete in races on the European circuit, the likelihood of me qualifying for the World Championships and/or the Olympic Games grows significantly. So, I’ll definitely be getting closer with each race.”
Sharpe said she is bursting with anticipation of what the future holds, and intends to savour her time in Europe.
“I just know I’m excited for all that’s to come. But as with anything one does, enjoyment is paramount, and I truly aim to perform well for my team, while making Jamaica proud.”