ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — A diverse team of female professional cyclists is officially relocating their operations base from Idaho to Virginia’s Blue Ridge as their road to Paris begins.
The team of female professional and junior cyclists is part of Virginia’s Blue Ridge TWENTY24, a team skilled in various disciplines such as racing road, gravel, mountain, track, and eSports.
Founder Nicola Cranmer says the decision to relocate was an easy one, especially with the help of 2012 Olympian and Roanoke College graduate Shelly Olds.
“The fact that the community here is embracing women’s cycling, embracing women, embracing youth in cycling is very important to me,” said Cranmer.
Olds moved to Europe at the start of her career for an opportunity like this one.
According to Olds, “That’s really bringing people from all over the world to America to see what we have to offer in terms of training grounds and hopefully, there will be races soon too here. That’s really where you get the love of cycling.”
Now, riders like Nobel Peace Prize Nominee Rukhsar Habibzai can have that experience in Virginia.
During her speech, Habibzai said, “Cycling in Afghanistan is terrible, women are verbally and physically harassed.” She added, “It was very difficult for me at first to ride a bicycle. I broke barriers for other girls.”
Habibzai is from Kabul, Afghanistan and says the U.S. government saved her life from being controlled by Taliban camps. She moved to America in October 2021 and says she now has a second chance to achieve her dreams of cycling.
“For those that don’t do any sports, I want to tell them to do it. You have a good country. You have good opportunities, so you can use it,” said Habibzai.
The team plans to conduct seminars, visit schools, and lead sessions within the Commonwealth, empowering and encouraging women and girls through cycling.