February 16, 2009 (Santa Rosa, CA) – We caught up with Swedish national road champ Emilia Fahlin (Columbia-Highroad) following her victory at the 2009 Amgen Tour of California Women’s Criterium – the NRC season opener and Santa Rosa’s wettest stage race in history. We spoke with Fahlin about her win and becoming one of the hottest young stars on the women’s circuit.
The rain was a huge factor today and many riders didn’t show up at the start – was the rain a big obstacle for you?
Emilia Fahlin: No, I’m used to bad weather where I’m from in Sweden, so maybe its an advantage for me — we’re used to unexpected conditions like this.
You attacked on the 5th lap but were reeled in yet you saved enough for sprint finish. Was your strategy to try and escape early?
EF: Yes, I was feeling good, so I tried. Fortunately, I had the strength to try again at the end. I’m focusing on becoming a one-day stage racer, and so lucky because Ina (Teutenberg) is on the team and she is a great mentor. She has such good advice and experience which helps me in these situations.
This is your second time at this race – do you consider it your favourite in the USA?
EF: It’s a really fun race and a lot of good American riders are here so it’s a perfect race to start the year with.
Is the calibre of riders here in the US equal to those in Europe?
EF: No, the women there are on a higher caliber, but I work on different aspects here.
What’s your primary spring objective here in the US and in Europe?
EF: I will stay here until after Redlands, that’s our main goal here this year, and then focus on the European championships this summer.
Are there other races in Europe that you’ll try to win before the summer?
EF: We don’t have any races for me to win in Europe so I don’t know how it will be, but I have other tours this spring to prepare me for the second half of the season.
Are you planning to work on and try to improve on your other skills like climbing and competing in longer stages?
EF: I’m twenty now, young enough that I hope to improve on those things later on, but for now, I’m trying to improve on my sprinting. I don’t like the long climbs, so my efforts now are towards stage wins in sprint finishes, just like today. I was third last year and wanted to improve, and working with this team, with Bob Stapleton, along with the veteran riders and such an amazing staff, what can I say?
Last question – when did you start riding and what was your first bike?
EF: I was eleven but not competing seriously. I was a gymnast first. My first bike”¦I don’t think there was a name on it – it was heavy and purple and black. It’s hard to imagine now that I was riding that bike (laughing).
All the best this season.