Norwegian master eyes UCI rainbow jersey
Sissel Vien will turn 53 in the week of the 2012 UCI World Cycling Tour Final in Pietermaritzburg from 23 to 26 August. Far from her home in Oslo in Norway she will instead don her national colours and aim to win the coveted UCI rainbow jersey that celebrates the sport's world champions.
Vien was one of the stars of the Msunduzi Road Challenge last year where she won her time trial and the 90km road race in her women's 50-54 year age group, beating scores of younger riders in the process. For Vien the world championships for masters road cyclists is very much part of her lifestyle since she was seconded to work at the Siemens office in Johannesburg two years ago.
"I left my family and friends back in Oslo, so I needed a place to make a new network of friends outside of work and to stay fit," says the mother of three children, all of them now adults. "The first thing I did when I arrived was to get in contact with Club100 in Johannesburg."
"The climate in SA is fantastic!" says Vien. "I cannot imagine how hard it will be to get back to snow for five or six months a year, and then rain and cold summer the rest! I am really spoiled."
With riders converging on Pietermaritzburg from every corner of the world to contest the UCI rainbow jersey in their age groups, Vien is expecting seriously tough competition in the time trial and road races, but has her sights firmly set on a gold medal.
"Of course my dream is to get the UCI rainbow jersey, but there are many very fit ladies out there!" says Vien, whose only previous experience at the UCI World Cycling Tour final saw her finish eighth in the road race after being outsprinted to the finish. "I am aiming to make the podium. Maybe my chances are best in the time trial because I am still not a sprinter."
Vien took up cycling after an Achilles tendon injury ended her running career. After dabbling in mountain biking she was coaxed into road cycling, and the bug bit.
"I find road biking much more social than mountain biking, and I also love the tension and the tactics," says Vien.
She has been trying to get in enough quality training with her club teammates, but says the challenges of road cycling in South Africa can be formidable.
"I am finding it harder to prepare this year for the final. There are few road competitions here over winter, and the short days are making it hard to do real quality training during the week," says Vien. "I try to train systematically and schedule the necessary tough sessions every week."
Vien however thrives on the abundance of competitive road riders in the older masters age groups. "I think the UWCT Final is a great initiative. Many of the cyclists also in the somewhat older categories are really serious in their training, and such a final is a great motivation during the year."
Though happily based at Club100, she will proudly don her national colours for the time trial and road race, hoping to make the coveted UCI Rainbow jersey the best late birthday present she could hope for.
PROGRAMME OF EVENTS
UCI World Cycling Tour Final 2012
Monday 20th August 2012 - Social Hill Dash Time Trial
Tuesday 21st August 2012 - Social Mt Verde Road Race – 54km
Thursday 23rd August 2012 - UWCT Time Trial Competition
Saturday 25th August 2012 - UWCT Final 61km Race and UWCT Final 96km Race
Sunday 26th August 2012 - UWCT 112km Race