Get to know Diana Peñuela: Colombian superstar
This week we meet Colombian climbing superstar, Diana Peñuela. A pro since 2016, this is Peñuela's first season with Team TIBCO Silicon Valley Bank. We sat down with Peñuela and chatted about how she fell in love with cycling, some of her favorite racing memories, and advice for getting started in the sport.
Tell us how you got your start in cycling.
Diana Peñuela: I started cycling in 2010 after not having the desired results in speed skating. I had an ankle injury, so I acquired a mountain bike to cross-train while I healed. After two years of training, I took part in some mountain bike races and enjoyed it. It motivated me to buy a road bike to continue improving, since only until I was 23 years old. After studying and working in several places, I was finally able to fulfill my dream of being a high-performance athlete.
What kept you cycling? What specifically did you love about the sport that you enjoyed?
DP: Cycling is a lifestyle for me, that's what I love about this sport. It is not just a practice that you sometimes do. It is about having appropriate healthy routines to improve your performance and feel good on the bike.
Some of your top results include a stage win at the 2018 Joe Martin Stage Race, 3rd at the 2018 Winston Salem Classic, and five-time silver medalist at Colombian road nationals. Which one meant the most to you and why?
DP: One of my favorite things to do is help my team win many races, so I get a lot of enjoyment from that. However, as far as results go, my most exciting moment was to win the queen stage of the Tour of the Gila. I'll never forget how wonderful that felt.
What is your favorite memory from cycling?
DP: My favorite memory is when I signed my first contract with a professional team. It was after the Richmond World Championship. My current director Rachel Hedderman was waiting for me at the end of the race and offered me the opportunity to race with her team the following season. I felt so much emotion. It was if I had won the same championships.
What do you consider your most challenging moment?
DP: It was in 2015. I qualified for the Toronto Panam Games, but a couple of weeks before I went, I broke my collarbone in a mountain bike race. I was recovering fast, but I still lost my spot at the Games. Because I sped up the recovery process, the screw in the clavicle broke my skin. It was exposed for several days, during which I continued to race to show that my fitness was strong.
What is some advice you'd give for those wanting to start bike racing?
DP: I would tell you that it is never too late and any time is right to start in this sport. I started at the age of 23, and my performance continues to improve over time. It is an activity that surrounds you, and improves your lifestyle, do not miss the opportunity to try it.
What are some of your future goals in the sport?
DP: I want to help my team achieve the best results possible, and take advantage of every opportunity to race as if it was the last. That is especially important now because of the coronavirus. We don't know what will happen tomorrow!
My goals in sports are to continue to inspire my community in Colombia to be professionals in their chosen sport. Also, I want to seek the best results through teamwork and, most importantly, enjoy the process.