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Interview: Carmen Small McNellis
By Bart Hazen
Date: 2/13/2009
Interview: Carmen Small McNellis

Interview: Carmen Small McNellis

Interview with 28 year old Carmen Small McNellis of the Italian S.C. Michela Fanini Record Rox team

Can you introduce yourself?
My name is Carmen Small McNellis. I am 28 years old. Born in Durango Colorado, Graduated with Mathematics Degree from Colorado State University.

Why did you choose cycling as your sport?
I was always into sports growing up…played Volleyball in college and then transferred to CSU were I started competing in Triathlons. That lead me to racing bikes.

What kind of rider is Carmen Small?
I am not sure yet? I think of myself as an "all-a rounder," for the past two years racing with Aaron's Pro Cycling Team I was a worker for the team. I like that job and hopefully did a good job in that.

Carmen Small McNellis
Photo © 2009 ActionImages

Which hobbies do you have besides cycling?
Learning Italian :, it seems like cycling has consumed my life right now. Moving to a new country and trying to figure out how an Italian team operates really takes up your whole day.

How do you look back on the 2008 season?
In one word, successful. I was really fortunate to be able to race for the national team for the majority of the year. Racing in Europe is much different than racing in the US. I was able to "get my feet wet" without having a lot of pressure and having a lot of support. I found out that I loved racing in Europe and I am excited to see what this year brings me. Without last season I wouldn't have this opportunity to race for a European team.

What performance/achievement you are the most proud of?
I was really proud to be a part of Aarons Pro Women's Team the past two year. I feel like I learned so much from my teammates and director Carmen D'Aluisio.

You are riding for S.C. Michela Fanini Record Rox team. Can you explain more about the team?
The team is based in Lucca Italy. This is actually a very touching story so I have translated it and cut and pasted what is on the website…

Michela Fanini Team History
The Fanini family has always been involved in the women's cycling...  The Adventure begins in the 1968 season with the birth of a team dedicated to the fair sex and directed by Peter Fanini. Riding for the team was the wife of the same Peter (Rosanna Paolinelli) and that of Ivano (Mariapia Berti). Despite the fierce competition of the caliber of athletes at the time: Tartagni, Bissuri and Brovedani, Rosanna and Mariapia both had  many successes the Italian team. In those years the riders raced in one  category: the young and old.  In '86, with the advent of the team "Mamma Fanini" the team entered its second epoch. The new company, became engaged with a men's team: it stands as a reminder of the mother of the brothers Fanini known by all as the "mother of riders", who cared for and pampered all the athletes who traveled there.

Meanwhile one of the "small" athletes was already putting on a display - Michela Fanini, began to make important victories, often racing against the boys. The rise of Michela was commanding, as Junior she raced in the national elite category. In'92 she made her first appearance in the "Fanini Sprint." team. Brunello Fanini was and organizer of the Giro d'Italia,  It was this race where he launched  Michela (who had already won the Italian Championships), she debuted in fifth place ('93 edition) and then returned to win the race in 1994.

Joys and Sorrows: 1994 is the year that marks the good and bad of the career and life of the champion of Lucca. Prior to repeat of her victories  in the Giro and the Tour, then with the disappointment that followed the unfortunate collapse of the World Championships in Sicily, where she was close to victory; it was a worse defeat that she would not be able to replicate her success, as she died at the age of 23, after a serious car accident. To remember her name and his companies, after his  great loss, her father Brunello decided to continue the adventure, organizing the Tour of Italy (until 1996), and "inventing" the Giro di Toscana (already become a of the most important races in the world) in 1995. In memory of the champion here is the "Michela Fanini Record Rox" that sees the glorious jersey of blue fuchsia that many riders have worn in competition. With the teams many victories: Under 23 European Championships with Francese Elisabeth Chevanne Brunel, the rainbow  title in 2000 with the Belarusian Zinaida Stahurskaia, and the prestigious World Cup world signed by German Regina Schleicher in the spring of 2002. Along with champions, many interesting young people and grew the group of managers and employees who orbit around the company of creative Brunello Fanini.
You can also check out our team website 

With Flavia Oliveira you have a compatriot in your team. How do two American girls end up in an Italian team? A totally different culture than the NRC races.
I am not sure how Flavia ended up with this team…I was brought to this team through Jim Miller (National team director) It is nice to have another English speaker on the team. My roommate is Australian (Carly Hibberd) so between the two of them we have someone to speak English with.

Recently you had a training camp with your new team. Getting to know your new team mates. How did the camp go? And how does a team camp looks like with the Michela Fanini team.
The first camp went well. It was all about getting to know the team (both teammates and staff), getting our new stuff (bikes, cloths, etc…), going over expectations, what the season is going to look like, and of course riding. The second camp is coming up this month. It will consist of lots of riding and getting to know teammates better. There are 5 that live in the team house and 6 that live other places so it is important to get to know one another to achieve cohesiveness in the team.

What do you prefer the most in racing?
I am not sure yet…I like all the races so far; One days races, stage races, flat races, hilly races, short races, long races.

What race has been a favorite of yours?
I always like Nature Valley, I have a love hate relationship with it. It was my first NRC and I really like the courses, but I also broke my clavicle that year and last year had a crash in one of the stages and did some damage again. Unfortunately I won't be doing it this year.

What races would you like to race in Europe next year?
I am looking forward to doing some bigger tours this year like Tour De L'Aude Feminine, Giro D'Italia, and Giro Della Toscana.

What race will be the 2009 debut for you and the team? And how does your schedule more or less looks like.
We start the season off racing March 7th, GP Brissago in Switzerland. The team has a full schedule racing World Cups and doing big tours. Click here for the racing schedule of the team.

Who has inspired you, or currently inspires you to race. (Or in the present)?
I grew up being a very active kid, doing as many sports as possible. I started out Nordic skiing competitively and stuck with that until I graduated high school. My parents have always been very supportive and still are. I am not sure where the drive comes from to race, but I know I love competition of any kind. I feel like I have been given a once in a life time opportunity and I need to make the most out of it.

How does your ideal preparation looks like for the new season?
I have been working with Corey Hart for three seasons now, so he has a good idea of how to prepare me for the upcoming season. He is a great coach and I fully trust him to help me reach my full potential. I think coming over to Europe early as been a good part of the preparation because I am able to train outside with good riding. Otherwise I would be in Durango in cold weather and lots of snow.

What are your goals for the 2009 season? and if you don't mind…. long term career goals as a person and cyclist?
This year I would like to take what I learned this past season and improve my racing for this season. I really don't have many expectation, we will see what happens. Outside of cycling for long term goals, I would really like to go back to teaching math and open a math tutoring center.

Blog Carmen Small McNellis

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