DNA Pro Cycling’s Diana Carolina Peñuela Gets Ready for Gila
The Tour of the Gila is on this weekend in New Mexico. Diana Carolina of DNA Pro Cycling team, took a few minutes to share some thoughts on what makes this race event special.
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Please introduce yourself and give us a little back ground on you and your team
My name is Diana Carolina Peñuela, I am a Colombian from the coffee area of the country, I live in Manizales, a small but attractive city at 2100MSNM surrounded by mountains and a lot of coffee, the best coffee in the world as I always say. I start in cycling at age of 23 and have been a professional since 2015. I am also a graphic designer and work with the ALTOS Cycling company to foster tourism by bicycle in Colombia. This is my first year with the DNA Pro Cycling team, but it has a 10-year history of supporting and promoting competitive women’s cycling. I am so proud to be a part of this.
What’s your history with this race and what do you think makes this race unique from other races?
I have raced Gila 3 times, 2016, 2017 and 2018, all with UHC (aka the “Blue Train”) – we managed to climb the podium in several times. Gila is a demanding race for its altitude and steep slopes in the main stages, this makes it uniquely challenging compared to other races in North America. Honestly, I like it a lot because it resembles the conditions in which I live and train in Colombia.
What are some special memories from racing here in the past?
I suffered a lot in my first year at Gila, ending in very bad position and almost entering with time cut in the last stage, but in this race I learned that it is not important in what place you finish – if your team is the winner. Your work and sacrifice for the team goal is worth more that a Top 20 without podium or glory.
Even so, it hurt a lot to end in that position also because we do not get the expected final result. The next year we got it with Tayler Wiles, and in 2018 with Katie Hall, the two years we won the best team and in this last I won the queen stage solo, the same one in which two years ago had finish right with the time cut, it has been one of the most beautiful moments of all my career as a cyclist.
Goals for this weekend – what do you and the team hope to achieve?
We are going to Gila with a great squad, the majority of us live and train at high altitude, we have a good balance of experienced riders, young up-and-coming riders and we have a good balance of climbers, sprinters, and all-rounders. I’m confident we will go in prepared, but we know this will be a challenging race with the 12 strong teams which have enrolled.
What would you say to riders and fans who haven’t seen this race before?
I think it’s a race where new talents are discovered and where there is always the emotion of competition. As with my experience, Gila is a race where riders can grow into true professional racers.