Meet Olivia Baril: The Canadian who nearly quit racing in 2021 but is enjoying a great 2022

Just 12 months ago Olivia Baril was questioning her decision to move to Europe and was even considering quitting racing, but circumstances have changed and she is enjoying a great 2022 campaign.

The 24-year-old is relatively new to racing in Europe after moving at the end of 2020. It was a risky move as the coronavirus pandemic still raged around the world, but she had a contract with Spanish side Massi- Tactics.

Although she put in strong performances, she struggled in what she described as a “poor environment” within the team. Her thoughts of moving were put on hold when Italian team Valcar-Travel & Service signed her up.

“I moved in September 2020 to San Sebastián, a very beautiful city in Spain. It went pretty well and the first year with the Spanish team was very hectic and I was wondering if I wanted to or not go back and if I wanted to quit the sport because it was such a bad environment,” she said. BikeNews. “Fortunately Valcar came to pick me up and they told me to come with us, we will develop you, you can trust us. They did and now I have the best year. I am so happy.

“It’s really great, I really like it and I love the Italian vibe. Of course they include me and I’m almost as Italian as they maybe.

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Valcar-Travel & Service has a good record of developing young riders and has become one of the top development teams in the women’s peloton. Current stars such as Elisa Balsamo and Marta Cavalli are among his alumni.

Since joining the team, Baril claimed her first professional victory at the GP Ciudad de Eibar in May, beating the likes of Ane Santesteban and Mavi Garcia. She also won the Tour de Suisse young rider classification, finishing ninth overall.

“Everything I have achieved so far is 110% thanks to Valcar. Everything I will achieve will definitely be thanks to this team,” she said.

“It’s been a really big improvement from what I was used to, especially the team environment, it’s so much calmer than what I was used to before I was in a team. where it was a bit of rider dominance, where the opinion was that the sporting directors knew best and that didn’t really have our best interests at heart. Now this team is really open and honest, and everything everyone is nice to everyone, so it’s like a family atmosphere. It’s the best.”

Baril’s introduction to cycle racing was gradual and she did not rush to climb the rungs of the ladder. She chose the sport after initially using it as a summer training tool and bided her time before turning to Europe to further her career.

Indeed, it was only after finishing high school and going to college, where she trained as an osteopath, that she took the plunge.

“I was a swimmer all through high school, then I started cycling in the summer as a sport I could do when I was out of cycling season,” Baril said. “I did a few triathlons and then the regional cycling team picked me up and asked if I wanted to be on the team. I had no idea what cycling was but said yes. I started when I was a junior and progressed slowly but surely. I kept going to school and went to college full time and just finished that. I moved to Europe when I finished school.

After a difficult start in Europe, Baril moved to Valcar and is making great strides in its development. However, her strong start to the season was hampered by a big crash at the Giro d’Italia Donne which forced her to retire on Stage 3.

Another early crash in the Women’s Tour de France ended her hopes of a strong overall result, but she endured one of the most intensive periods of racing she has experienced since turning professional. . After a short break, she has other major goals for the final months of the season.

“I had a big crash in the Giro and I recovered pretty well. I had 25 stitches in my knee but it’s ok, I crashed again [on stage 2] on the same knee but I think it’s less serious. My knee was surprisingly strong,” she said.

“I had a pretty good season in Spain, I had some good results there and the Tour de France was a big goal. I’ll rest a bit afterwards and then I’ll watch stage races like the Vuelta and then the World’s Championships.

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