Meet Skylar Schneider
Going from strength to strength, American Skylar Schneider made the remarkable transition from BMX ripper to being one the most formidable road racing juniors on the planet. In 2016 Schneider earned a Road World Championship silver medal in Qatar and followed up that success with more great results in 2017, including a stage win at the Internationale LOTTO Thüringen Ladies Tour. For 2018 she joins the world’s most successful women’s road racing squad, Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team, and is looking forward to another great year. We sat down with this 19-year-old phenom at the Boels-Dolmans Pro Cycling Team training camp in Javéa, Spain. The following is an edited transcript of that conversation.
How does it feel to be racing for, what is at the moment, the world’s most successful women’s team? And what do you like the most about the team?
It still feels like a dream. I got here just a few days ago. I got to meet all the girls and the staff. I received all the new equipment. It’s kind of sinking in slowly that I’m really here and this is happening.
Everyone is so nice. It’s been cool meeting them individually and kind of having one-on-one talks because previously it’s just been seeing them on social media or winning World Championships. Kind of building the relationship and becoming part of the team. It’s very special.
A lot of folks at SRAM headquarters in Chicago have seen you evolve as you’ve raced in the Midwest (US) and are super excited to see you on the team. What are your strengths and ambitions as a rider?
Right now there is a lot of potential to go any number of directions. I have a bit of experience as a sprinter, as I was doing a lot of criteriums in the US. I enjoy climbing and time-trialing and everything. So right now my eyes are open to whatever opportunities I have. Just kind of getting more experience in a lot of different situations and finding what fits the best. I think there is a lot of openness, there nothing I don’t want to try.
How and when did you start road riding?
Both of my parents were cyclists. I’m the youngest in my family. My siblings were cyclists as well. I grew up going to races. I started with BMX when I was 4 and then a couple of years later I got into cyclocross and track. And then, when I was 12, I did my first Nationals on the road and I just fell in love. Then I kind of dropped the other disciplines and started making goals in road cycling. Two years ago was my first trip to Europe and I fell in love even more. My goals were kind of revolving around joining the European peloton. Being here feels like I’m on the right track.
You’re still very young and have many years ahead of you, but so far what’s been the golden moment of your career? Silver medal in the junior women’s road race at last year’s world championships? Junior national road race champion? Something else?
I think in 2016 the Junior Worlds in Qatar. The silver medal there was very special. I think when you can represent your country there is always a lot of pride that comes with it. Standing on the podium there was a very good moment for me.
Will it be strange or difficult not racing with your sister, Samantha?
I’m sure it will be. That was probably the hardest thing about leaving the States, no longer racing with her, but we have a really good relationship and we support each other a lot. She will still continue racing in the US so I will probably watch the live feeds and cheer her on. She also has experience in Europe, so she’s been helpful of giving me a lot of advice prior to coming here. I’m sure as the season gets going I’ll be lucky to have her as a mentor.
Where will you live in Europe?
Probably in Sittard at the US house in Holland, but I hope to spend some more time in Spain as well because I’m kind of falling in love with the area.
Who are you most curious to get to know and learn from on the team?
I think everyone has a lot to offer with their experiences. It’s pretty cool to have both the Olympic and World Champions as teammates. Learning from Anna and Chantal will be so valuable for me as a young rider. It’s been nice rooming with Anna, but on the rides, Chantal has been kind of taking me under her wing. I’ve been asking her a lot of questions and she’s been offering a lot of advice. Learning from them is one of the best things about being on a team with such talented riders. Having Megan who has kind of gone through this coming to Europe from the US—she’s been giving me a lot of good tips and support as well.
Do you have a race that you are dreaming of winning?
I think Classics like Flanders. It’s one of the most popular races and to be able to race that one day and have a good result would be pretty special.
You are now riding with SRAM RED eTap and disc brakes, what are your first impressions?
Amazing! So smooth. Sometimes it’s challenging to switch bikes and have new equipment, but this transition was really a nice one. I’ve enjoyed getting to know the bike on corners, climbs, and descents and doing out of the saddle sprints. Everything feels really great. I’m really happy with it.