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Interview: Getting to know Olympian Evelyn García
 
By Imelda March
Date: 2/20/2013
Interview: Getting to know Olympian Evelyn García
 
Evelyn Yessenia García Marroquí was born on December 29, 1982 in Santa Ana, El Salvador. Evelyn is considered an all-rounder, having won time trials and mountain stages in the past. She has won the Vuelta a El Salvador on two occasions, the only woman yet to do so, in 2004 and 2007. García competed in the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Summer Games, both times in the road race and the 3000m individual pursuit. Most recently, she represented her country at the 2012 Summer Olympics in the Women's road race, finishing 26th.

*Note: The above uses Spanish naming customs; the first or paternal family name is García and the second or maternal family name is Marroquín.

I caught up with Evelyn after her training ride in Medellin, Colombia and we spoke through Skype. We spoke in Spanish and below is the translated version of our conversation.

Evelyn is now in Costa Rica and begins racing tomorrow in the Women’s Tour of Costa Rica/La Vuelta Femenina a Costa Rica.


Evelyn Garcia at the London Olympics (Photo used with permission)

INTRODUCTION, RIVALS, FRIENDSHIPS AND TRAVELING

Daily Peloton: Tell me about yourself.

Evelyn: I started cycling with the influence of an uncle who raced as well.

My parents are not athletes, but one of my brothers did also pursue cycling at one point in his life. We both traveled together to many regional races.

In Latin America it is difficult to make a living as a cyclist. As a result, my brother moved on with his university studies. I, on the other hand, continued with the sport while also studying, initially, economics then moving on to marketing and international studies.

Since traveling and training takes up much of my time, I have yet to complete my bachelor’s degree. When I am at home I do pick a few courses as I chip away with my studies.

In Europe, the majority of the women speak other languages but English is not as common. I have a good handle of the Italian language but I am also good with French. Currently, I am refreshing my English because I will have a few American women on my team (Amber Neben and Amber Rais).

I am currently preparing in Medellin, Colombia for my races in 2013. I have been coming here to train since 2003. I like it here because of the altitude (1700 to 2000 meters/5577 to 6561 feet)) and good weather. The top South American teams train here in Colombia. I came here to prepare for the Women’s Tour of Costa Rica/Vuelta Ciclista Femenina Costa Rica (February 21-24) and the Tour of El Salvador/Vuelta Ciclista Femenina a El Salvador (February 28 - March 5). While here I plan to enter a few warm-up races to measure where things are with my conditioning.

I will leave Colombia headed to Costa Rica on the 19th of February.

Once finished with the tours I will return again to Colombia, travel to Europe, but definitely back in Medellin, Colombia to prepare for the Pan American Championships scheduled for May 2013.

To add to all the madness I am getting married. On March 2, I am marrying my boyfriend of over eight years. The crazy thing is that I will be still racing the Tour of El Salvador during that time. I will race in morning then go to the courts for the civil ceremony then have a small wedding reception in the evening. The religious ceremony is planned for March 14.

DP: In the peloton, who are your best friends, or who do you talk to the most?

Evelyn: I have met many riders in my years as a rider. While at the various teams, I became close to Edita Pucinskaite of Lithuania. Edita recently gave birth to her first child.

I also know many riders from the multiple national teams such as women from Spain, Venezuela, and Brazil. Obviously I remain friends with some of the women of Be Pink.

DP: You travel a great deal for competition. What has been the most exciting venue or road course you have competed at?

Evelyn: Well, honestly – Europe! Italy, Belgium and Holland host many races. In Italy they have been investing lot in women cycling and every year there are more and more Italian women racing. I consider both Belgium and Italy as leaders in the growth in women’s cycling.

In Europe there are the narrow streets, cold, and the cyclist really is able to display their handling skills. It is not unusual to see any of the big women star racers.

DP: What would you say has been your career highlight so far?

Evelyn: Well! Winning the Tour of El Salvador 2004 and 2007 was a career highlight.

DP: What is your favorite race to participate in as a rider?

Evelyn: In the last four years my attitude is much better because I have gained a lot of confidence on the bike. My wins are not completed alone; one needs a good team that has confidence in the lead rider.

I have classified in many races and traveled overseas to represent the El Salvador and I have grown with each opportunity.

Of course racing in my homeland ranks among my favorites.

DP: Who are your closest rivals/competitors?

Evelyn: For the Women’s Tour of Costa Rica/Vuelta Ciclista Femenina Costa Rica, Costa Rica, Brazil, Venezuela and Mexico are national team rivals. But I will be racing with my new team and I consider Be Pink, my previous team, a rival as well. Be Pink will be bringing Naomi Cantelle (Italy), who is a very good rider.

This tour is short (four days) with not as many participants. It is basically a warm up for the Tour of El Salvador/Vuelta Ciclista Femenina a El Salvador (February 28 – March 5).

As far as the Tour of El Salvador is concerned, everything is reset again because this is a very difficult tour that brings lots of international riders. This tour is much longer and, to win, a rider must be a great climber.

After Day 4, women will be dropping like flies because the hills are very difficult. For example, El Boqueron National Park has a 16% climb that travels for about 14 kilometers/8.6 miles or 5,905 feet/1800 meters). The last day is up and down -- that could kill anyone who is not ready. Temperatures will range from 20 to 40 degrees Centigrade (68F to 104F).

DP: Your racing career takes you all over the world. What is your favorite place in the world to ride a bike?

Evelyn: Medellin is my favorite because of the weather and altitude. Temps range 14 to 30 degrees Centigrade (57F to 86F) but I train in about 15 to 25 degrees Centigrade (59F to 77F). But when I am preparing for the tour, I go to areas that mirror the roads and temperatures I will face.

LONDON OLYMPICS 2012

DP: You were the flag bearer for your country at the recent London Olympics. What was that experience like?

Evelyn: It was a big responsibility because it was a huge job to take my country on my shoulders. I was well prepared for the Games because I was much more confident in my cycling abilities because I felt that my experience both in my country and overseas gave me the confidence.

I was proud to represent my country because many of the young kids were watching me and perhaps dreaming that they could elevate themselves to a similar situation someday. I think many of the children most likely had a smile on their face when they saw me on television.

In my country not every day do we experience good news, so being the flag bearer was a very proud moment for me, my team and my country.

WINNING IN LATIN SOIL

DP: You have won the Tour of El Salvador before; tell me about the experience of winning such an event.

Evelyn: The satisfaction was winning because it helps grow the sport in my country. Again, I am always conscious about the message I am projecting to the young kids. With my win, I hope they observe that hard work pays off and good results can be achieved with the efforts.

I had prepared well but I was very surprised myself to win the first time. I did not even buy champagne because I had doubted myself. My boyfriend had more confidence than me at that time.

In 2012, I was hoping to win but fell apart, due to lack of nutrition, and lost it all. I did not take in sufficient food and suffered as a consequence. This was a very bad situation because I failed my country and my team.

Now that I have learned from my mistake, I am motivated to deliver good news to my country and its residents.

This year it is different because there is less pressure since it is not an Olympic year. Yes, the work will be difficult in the race, but I have learned my lesson and me and my team both lost the vuelta (cycling tour) and we are eager to be on the podium.

DP: What do you think are the pressures with being a female bicycle racer in your country/region?

The pressure is always there because I think all athletes want perfection and we think we cannot make mistakes, but we learn from our mistakes often.

The process of becoming an athlete in Latin America, specifically in Central America, is that many individuals do not see cycling as a profession. The most difficult thing remains money to cover the necessities and a little left over. In our country we look at soccer as a professional sport.

Many times I am cycling around my country and folks yell “go to work.” We just don’t appreciate that type of thing in this side of the world.

El Salvador does not really have a culture of sport other than futbol (soccer).

DP: What would you be doing if you were not a bicycle racer?

Evelyn: I really I have not thought about it. This is what I am enjoying and I am doing well at it. I wanted to become an industrial engineer a while back but I fell into cycling and I am enjoying it and perhaps am doing God’s will.

It is difficult to motivate the young ones to become an athlete because the future is not as bright.

I come from a modest family and what I have achieved is from hard work. I began my racing career with a gift of a used bike.

There are few that can say that they live off the winning and/or earnings from bicycle racing.

2013 AND BEYOND

DP: What was the main reason for your move to ride Pasta Zara? Is racing in Europe a better place to be? Where will you live, and when are you moving there?

Evelyn: In Europe, the racing is much more professional and transport to races is much easier. Everything is planned by the team managers for an athlete.

Being with a European team allows me to enter more Union Cycliste Internationale sanctioned races. In Europe, I am permitted to grow as a female cyclist where elsewhere I cannot. If I only race in the Americas, the races are smaller and in Europe it is not unusual to see the big women star racers. Basically, it is really much better to live in Europe. I will live in the team house since I do not have another home in Europe.

In summary, I can race better quality races in Europe than in my region.

In 2002, I raced in Miami, Florida but I have never returned because my team at the time was internationally based and I did not have American racers on it.

DP: What will your main role be at Pasta Zara and does that differ from your role at Be Pink?

Evelyn: My schedule is still coming together but I will be in the U.S. in May and June.

I will be a team domestique. {Domestique: A member of a competitive bicycle-racing team whose role is to assist the team leader, as by setting the pace} like I was on Be Pink.

DP: Women professional teams are becoming more cosmopolitan nowadays. Is there any great language barrier to overcome in terms of communicating with your new teammates? In what language will you communicate with your new teammates?

Evelyn: In Europe not everyone speaks English – it is my weakest language. But this year we will have a few Americans on the team so I will have to brush up on my English.

Yes, cycling is becoming very international, but in Europe knowing French or Italian is very helpful.

I will be speaking French and Italian in abundance with my teammates.

DP: What is your main objective for 2013, and which races are you most looking forward to?

Evelyn: I will be racing many races but my goals include Vuelta a El Salvador, Los Juegos Centro Americanos (March 12-15) Pan American Championships in Puebla, Mexico (May 1-13 2013), among a few.

The other races will help in my preparation. I will return to Colombia to race with the men to better prepare for the battle.

We will be looking at the schedule here in Medellin and perhaps do about two to three races with the men’s peloton. I am not certain of the dates as yet.

DP: Before your career ends, what race do you dream of winning one day?

Evelyn: I am thinking ahead to Rio 2016 and would like to crack the Top10 in the women’s road race.

PERSONAL

DP: What would we be surprised to learn about you?

Evelyn: Well! For starters I am typically a positive person but you may be surprised to learn that I am very good dancer.

DP: What music is in your play list?

Evelyn: In my play list, you will find salsa, Latin romantic music, merengue and a few Top 40. But I do not listen to much English music and my preference is Latin artists.

DP: Do you train with a power meter? If so, how long have you been using it? What immediate results have you discovered by using this tool?

Evelyn: I definitely see the difference with training with power. The training seems much more data oriented and easy to measure. Every training ride has an objective but I love to use both a power meter and perceived exhausting training methods.

DP: During the off season, what did you do to prepare for the 2013 season?

Evelyn: During the off season, I completed a triathlon and supplemented my off season with running, swimming, yoga and strength training. During the season I complement my training with basic abdominal training, stretches and strength training.

DOPING AND PARITY IN THE PELOTON

DP: What are the general ramblings in your region about equal pay for equal work? Any of the races you have participated both in Europe and Latin America pay equal purses?

Evelyn: Parity in purses -- that is non-existent in this region. I have never participated in any race that pays parity. That sure would be nice.

DP: I don’t have to review all the stories about doping; however, do you think that there are female racers who are currently doping?

Evelyn: It is difficult to answer for others but I have no proof to answer such a question. Currently, I have heard no news of women being busted for doping.

In El Salvador, we have a doping program but it is not as robust and/or formal when compared to other countries. For the recent Olympic Games, the doping checks were much more constant in El Salvador. I know the UCI has implemented more testing for women and these tests will prove whether or not doping exists among the women in the peloton.

DP: What do you think cycling needs most -- parity in purses or better women team sponsorship?

Evelyn: Frankly--we need both! Both men and women train at the same level, so I think parity is needed. Women’s racing needs more exposure on television to gain more recognition and sponsorship.

DP: Anything else to add?

Evelyn: Well yes, thank you for reaching out and wanting to learn more about me and plans for 2013.

RIDER PROFILE

Full name: Evelyn Yessenia García Marroquín
Gender: Female
Height: 5'4" (162 cm)
Weight: 115 lbs (52 kg)
Cycling Disciplines: Track cycling and Road
Born: December 29, 1982
Place of Birth: Santa Ana, Santa Ana, El Salvador
Country of Birth: El Salvador
Residence: El Salvador, Medellin, Colombia and Italy

TEAM AFFILIATION HISTORY

2013 Pasta Zara Cogeas Manhattan
2012 Be Pink Cogeas
2009 - 2011 ESA Team
2008 Chirio Forno d'Asolo (Italia)
2007 Dila Guerciotti (italia)
2006 Nobili Rubineterie (Italia/Italy)
2005 Nobili Rubineterie (Italy/Italia)
2000 a 2004 El Salvador National Team (ESA)- (trained in France to prepare for the Olympic Summer Games of 2004)

SOCIAL MEDIA AND FAN CONNECTION

♦ Twitter - @evelyngarcia29
♦ Facebook – not public

About the author: An experienced racer, Imelda March lives in Chicago and is a member of Team Kenda. She is a frequent contributor to The Daily Peloton Cycling News team, reporting on women’s cycling news and general peloton ramblings. She also holds an MBA, is a marketing strategy expert, and is a social media team member/contributor to the Chicago chapter of the American Marketing Association.

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