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Anna-Bianca Schnitzmeier: “I want to be more consistent”

German Anna-Bianca Schnitzmeier is going into her fifth season as a professional cyclist, and her second year with the British Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling team. The 23 year old from Dortmund chose for a different approach after having a difficult season in 2013 with lots of ups and downs. After coming back from pre-season training in Australia, Anna took some time for herself. Instead of riding in Qatar she decided to change apartment, which she shares with her sister Katha. Now Anna is looking forward to the new season ahead which will start for her in the Omloop het Nieuwsblad on the first of March.


Past season
Looking back to the past season Anna has mixed feelings. The Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling team performed extroardinary well with 22 UCI wins in it’s inaugural season but personally her season didn’t go as she had dreamed of at the beginning of the year. A bad summer and not getting selected for the German National Team for the World Championships in Florence, Italy, were definitely her big disappointments. “It has been a great first year for us as a newly built team. I really enjoy being with my teammates and I would rather call them friends than just colleagues. We´re such an awesome group of girls working, laughing and enjoying our job. I think that’s one of our secrets to all the success.”

She continues “Like every new team, we also needed our time to come together and to figure out  how things work out the best for us. I think the races in China are a good example. We took it a bit too easy in the begining and had to work even harder for getting the overall win in Zhoushan Island with Giorgia. But despite having a good season as a team we were a little down after the TTT Worlds. I had spent the week before Worlds with them and everyone was pretty pumped to finish on the podium. We had the riders and the strength, it just wasn’t our day. Things like that are hard to deal with but you need to accept them and move on. Speaking about that, my personal low was the summer. I really wanted to do so well in the Giro Rosa and the Thüringen Rundfahrt but I was just a bit overtrained I think as I had done lots of altitude training before. But from these things you will learn from. I will for sure do it a lot better this year.”

Waalse Pijl, Fleche Wallone

But despite the lows the season also had some personal highlights for “Schnitzi” who finished fifth in the German National Championship Road Race. “One of my highlights was Giorgia’s win in Padova. Without the excellent team work she wouldn´t have won the race. It was a big goal for us because it was our first race in Italy. The Prudential RideLondon GP was another special moment. It isn´t a UCI race but it had such a great athmosphare to race there, and seeing so many people on and off the bike cheering for us. We even won the event with Laura (smiles).”

Australia & Off-Season
After the season Anna had a short off-season period in Dubai with Rochelle Gilmore and several team mates before she had to go back to the German Army for two months. Like many other sport stars in Germany and many other countries top athletes like Anna join the army in order to gain additional funding during the year. After her period in the army Anna has spent eight weeks in Australia with her good friend and former professional Emma Mackie to prepare for the new season including some racing in the Bay Crits and some local events. “Being in Australia is a good thing. I have the possibilty to stay there in the European winter. I have friends and kind of family to make it a nice time for me in between. It´s not like a training camp for me, it’s more like a second home. I am living a normal daily routine, catching up with friends, going to the beach and doing some other stuff. It’s a good mix and nice to enjoy after early hard training days. These early training days are the hardest thing for me, getting your body up at 5.30 or 6.00 for the ride. And I am honest, I am not getting up earlier that would be impossible. There are people training on the beach roads around 4.00 or 4.30. I don´t even have lights to do that. It is just crazy.” 


During her time in Australia Anna-Bianca competed in the prestigious Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic (Jan 2-5) in Geelong won by Wiggle Honda teammate Giorgia Bronzini. For most Europeans including Anna its the ideal preparation for the new season ahead. “The race is very important for us as a Pro team, not only because our team owner Rochelle Gilmore is Australian but also because of our global sponsors and to support racing in Australia. For me the focus on these criteriums is different than focusing on a European race. I was really fit there this year compared with the year before. I exactly knew what to expect. These races are bloody hard and fast and the Australian riders are all pretty fit at this time of the year because of their National Championships in January.”

Being part of the army is very valuable for “Schnitzi” in being a professional bike rider. But its not only valuable for doing the sport she loves but it also helps her to develop as a person. “It is a completely different life for eight weeks out there with the Army. When I am telling people what we´re doing they can´t believe it or just don´t believe it. You have to follow a strict program day in, day out. As an athlete you will be well looked after all the time and your team is doing everything for you to make your time around the races as relaxed as possible. Compared with that the army is completely different as they expect more (discipline) from you , which is nothing bad or to complain about. You just take a lot of life experience going out there and learning new boundaries with your body. Apart from all that it is just a great time. We are all athletes in the army, all from different sports and you learn a lot from them. In the end you see other sports and athletes in a different way because we all are working bloody hard for our goals, no matter what sport it is.”

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The Team
Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling had a very successful inaugural season with over 50 wins from which 22 were in UCI races. With the team staying together it is realistic to aim for another stellar season in 2014. But what is the key to all these successes? “We really love racing together, hanging out together outside the races, having fun and being teammates. It may sound like I have read that in a book but that is exactly how it is. I have never been in such a group of girls before. We are not having fights and we are not riding against each other. Everybody has their own position in the team as a person and as a rider and that’s how it works I guess.”

With the arrival of Emilia Fahlin, Peta Mullens and Anna Sanchis the team has got some more strengths on all aspects. “We have put a strong team together and we know each other very well , we all know what people expect from us. Everything last year was the first for us as a team, even for a lot of girls it was their first races as a professional bike rider. We know what went wrong so we know how to work out things different now from the beginning. We shouldn’t put ourselves under too much pressure because we know what we are able to do. So we should just go out there and smash it as good as we can.”

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She continues “The new athletes integrated in the team pretty quick and we obviously get along very well together. Like in everything there will always be things we have to work on because we are humans and not machines. But we are a good group of girls who have the same goals to win bike races together.”

New season
After having competed in the Mitchelton Bay Series in January Anna will make her official season debut in the Omloop het Nieuwsblad (March 1) in a few days. Her season approach is a slightly different one than the past few years when she competed in the Ladies Tour of Qatar but the 23 year old German is confident that it will benefit her later this year. “I think it is a good way to do it like that. The last two years I raced in Qatar but now I came back from Australia only in the end of January so it is better to get used to the cold first instead of traveling that much before the start of the spring classics. Besides that I needed to get things sorted as well with moving apartments, another exciting thing. Building a new home and making it how you want is such a cool thing, especially when you come home after long trips of racing and the only thing you want is to have some rest in your own place, at your own couch or bed.”

After the Omloop het Nieuwsblad Schnitzmeier will have a full racing schedule with the GP Le Samyn, Omloop van het Hageland, the races in Drenthe followed by the team training camp at Lake Garda in Italy. “My focus is to do well in the spring classics first. I always hate it to think about riding in the cold weather, the rain and the shit conditions, but as soon as I am on my bike I love it. I just love fighting on the cobbles and I love the shit weather even when I am always saying I don’t want to do this.“

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Like every other athlete Anna has high expectations for the season ahead. “I really want to be more consistent this year. I want to have a better summer and a better end of my season. I want to be up there in the finale of races to help out and to ride for my teammates. That is what I want and that is exactly what suits me. I love riding my heart out for Giorgia, Linda, Lotte or one of the other girls.”

She continues. “I hope I can have my own opportunities in some races as well, it is always a conflict of interest when you race for your teammates but you also need to be seen by the national coach for getting selected for the World Championships. But I have to admit that I always struggle with putting myself under too much pressure and that’s what I need to work on, but I am getting there. I am still young and improving every year. I am a good worker so I am never going to stop doing this.”

Last year Anna was really disappointed to not be selected for the World Championships but she has high hopes she will make the team this year. “Not getting selected for the National Team for the World Championships in Italy was honestly the most disappointing thing that has ever happened in my career thus far. I have never been upset more about a non-selection. After that I didn’t wanted to see my bike for ages as I would have loved to race there for Trixi Worrack and Claudia Häusler. But from things like this you need to try and take the good things out of it and work even harder to make the team.”

Follow Anna on twitter: @AnaSchnitzmeier

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