Improved Sharpe credits Europe
Cyclist Llori Sharpe is crediting improved abilities to her leap of faith of going to Europe, in an unknown environment, while leaving the comfort of her native Jamaica.
It is a decision that she has not regretted as she has noticed better athleticism since signing a one-year contract with Germany-based Canyon Cycling Group and a subsequent move to the European continent.
"It was definitely an eye-opening experience, to say the least. As it relates to cycling specifically, being able to train and race in Europe allowed me to see how much more room for improvement there is and that with the right environment athletic progress can be achieved.
"Not only was it way easier to simply ride my bike, the cyclists I met interacted and trained with made the experience that much better for me," Sharpe said.
The 22-year-old stated that this experience has come with many lessons.
"Biggest lesson I've learned would certainly be the value of teamwork. I don't think many people realise that cycling is in fact a team sport, as we work together to ensure that our general classification contender is in the best position possible to secure a victory. Teamwork also extends to how the team staff (sports director, mechanic, soigneur) coordinate their respective activities to ensure that the riders are all well taken care of," she said.
This has also paved the way for her to be part of a major advertisement with the cycling company.
"Aside from the ad, being a part of Canyon/SRAM Generation has allowed me to experience a wealth of different European cultures and explore some beautiful places, while on a bike that I would never have thought of being able to see, so those opportunities I truly appreciate," she said.
Sharpe does all of this while being a student at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill campus.
"Given that UWI (Cave Hill) had been online, cycling in Europe and attending classes was manageable. I'm currently a third-year student pursuing a bachelor's in Sport Sciences," the former St Andrew High School for Girls student said.
Sharpe's local coach, Adrian Clarke, said he is proud to see her performing so well overseas.
"I'm very proud of Llori's growth as I've seen the dedication and hard work she has put out, her determination and focus towards her goals both on and off the bike.
"Llori will be a world-class cyclist. Based on what she has shown so far, she will move on to the second year of her professional contract," Clarke said.
Sharpe said homesickness, however, gets the better of her sometimes, but she feels she will be better able to develop as a cyclist if she remains overseas.
"The contract (with Canyon) really doesn't bind you to any one place so I can live and train wherever. I'd just much rather prefer training outside of Jamaica as the environment is a bit more conducive to my development as a cyclist," the national cyclist said.