Aussie Focus

Campbell aims to pave way for Caribbean riders into the WorldTour

New Team BikeExchange recruit Teniel Campbell is keen for her legacy in the sport to not just be the first rider from Trinidad and Tobago in the WorldTour peloton, but the first of many from her country and the Caribbean region.

Teniel Campbell, Team BikeExchange

Teniel Campbell rides into 2021 with Australian WorldTour squad Team BikeExchange Source: Team BikeExchange

Campbell's move to Australian WorldTour squad Team BikeExchange has seen a lot of interest generated about the powerful 23-year-old sprinter and her step up to the WorldTour.

The Trinidad and Tobago-born rider has built a reputation for herself in recent years as a woman for the fast finishes, only being beaten by the top handful of sprinters in the world in bunch dashes last season and taking three UCI wins in 2019. Transitioning from junior riding in the Caribbean, through the UCI World Cycling Centre onto Valcar - Travel and Service and finally Team BikeExchange, it has been a long road for Campbell, hailing from a non-traditional cycling nation.

“It wasn’t easy for my journey," said Campbell. "But you need to have a strong mindset and I’m grateful to have that.

"I’m thankful for the people that I surround myself with, they are really core in getting me to where I am here today. Sometimes, we have our low moments in life and to have them keeping me on track and everything like this has been great."

Joining Team BikeExchange is the culmination of all that effort and sacrifice, weathering the tough moments and making the most of her prodigious talents.

“It’s fantastic," said Campbell. "This has been my dream team, ever since I was at the world cycling centre, this is what I wanted, to come to Team BikeExchange.

"The girls are amazing, I can already tell that I’m going to learn so much from them and I’m really looking forward to it."

Campbell grew up in Hardbargain, starting cycling in her teens after a time in athletics. Her mother, Euphemia Huggins, was a multi-discipline sports star across, basketball, netball and long jump, competing in the latter at the 1990 Commonwealth Games. With Trinidad and Tobago offering little in terms of cycling infrastructure, few families place their children in the sport because of its expense. 

While Campbell joins renowned Cuban, Arlenis Sierra (A.R. Monex Women's Team), as a Caribbean rider of note in the women's peloton, she's not focused on breaking new ground, but more using her position to help others.

"I don’t really study it. I keep working and looking ahead,' said Campbell when asked if she was proud of being the first Caribbean rider in the WorldTour. "For me, it will be more special if I can keep working and creating pathways for the others to come up and to experience this and live their dreams.

"When I go home, it’s the first thing that I hear, they wish that they could be in this position as well. Now I’m here, I have more resources and if I can guide them, get equipment to them, to create a good structure and organisation so the pathway for the other generation is easier. Because it wasn’t easy for me, I really went through the system from juniors to now."

That journey through the regional cycling infrastructure has seen the whole Caribbean take ownership in Campbell's burgeoning career. 

"Quite frankly, everyone saw it in me early, that I was special and different," said Campbell. "I don’t know if it was my work ethic and my mentality. I think deep down most people expected it.

"Everyone is coming together and being more supportive and more excited… anxious about how much I can do and keep inspiring the next generation and all this. It’s really exciting times, and not within Trinidad and Tobago alone, it’s the whole Caribbean.

"I came up through the junior Caribbean championships and everyone knows me, they know my development and live their dreams through me."

With Campbell well liked by the media and breaking new ground consistently in the support, perhaps her personal development as a rider will reflect on her ultimate goal of improving prospects for young cyclists in the region. That is Campbell's immediate goal as she eyes the 2021 season with Team BikeExchange. 

 “The main target for me on the team is to develop and what better way than with so many experienced riders and staff," said Campbell. "It’s a critical phase in my career and I know I’m in the right place to develop and propel myself forward."


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4 min read
Published 20 January 2021 at 10:01am
By SBS Cycling Central
Source: SBS