Because she could no longer row after moving to New York, Kristen Faulkner decided to give her racing bike a chance when she was 23. Yesterday, the second-year professional just missed the overall victory in the Tour of Switzerland. “Such a fairy tale indicates that women’s cycling is still in its infancy,” says Tomas Van Den Spiegel, CEO of Flanders Classics.
Until the very last corner she had the prospect of her first overall victory in a stage race, but the pressure was too much for her. A slip in the final kilometer cost Kristen Faulkner (29) the culmination of another strong week yesterday.
It should come as no surprise that she made a mistake in a duel with the experienced Lucinda Brand. The American has only been a professional rider for two years.
Two years ago, cycling was a “get out of hand” hobby for Faulkner, who made her living as a venture capitalist on Wall Street.
During her studies at Harvard, she had already been bitten by the sports bug: as befits university tradition, she spent a lot of time rowing on the Charles River in Boston.
But after moving to New York, the Varsity rower had to find another outlet. Rowing is not immediately an option in The Big Apple.
Faulkner tried it on two wheels and turned out to have a talent for that too. So much talent that she caught the eye at a cycling event in Central Park in 2017.
10th in Tour of Flanders, 7th in Gent-Wevelgem
Because a demanding job on Wall Street and the strict life of a top athlete could not be combined, Faulkner decided two years ago to take a leap into the unknown.
The Alaskan rider quit her job on Wall Street to earn a fraction of her venture capital wage as a professional rider. She moved to Ninove to share an apartment with three other girls.
Had she made the right choice? That question didn’t stay in her head for too long. Less than a year after her professional debut in the Tour de l’Ardèche, she booked her first WorldTour victory in the Tour of Norway.
Barely three weeks after her move to Girona, to an apartment across the street from a star restaurant, she was able to treat herself to a star dinner. She had promised herself that with her first WorldTour victory.
And that it was not a stroke of luck, she proved with a 7th place in Gent-Wevelgem and a 10th place in the Tour of Flanders. In the Tour of Switzerland she did win the time trial this week, but missed the overall victory.
Van den Spiegel: “Women’s cycling is still growing”
Tomas Van den Spiegel, CEO of Flanders Classics, already got to know Faulkner last year with her great performance in Flanders’ Most Beautiful. “The fact that such stories – almost a fairy tale – still exist, indicates that women’s cycling is still in its infancy,” he says in our podcast De Tribune.
“The fact that you can still end up in women’s cycling at a later age in this way indicates that we are still in a growth process.”
“You see in the teams and the organization in the race that it is completely different from men’s cycling. But the sport is growing. And I am proud that Flanders Classics has thrown the bat in the henhouse.”