There’s a certain intensity to Jasmin Glaesser that’s visible in her eyes. Of course the Canadian track star is warm, friendly, and polite, but there’s a competitive fire burning inside of her that’s undeniable. This focus has made the 23-year old a leader within Rally Cycling, a top ranked team in North America that is always a threat for a race win. Her leadership, coupled with the team’s depth of talent, makes Glaesser a serious GC contender this season.
Already a star on the track, with an Olympic Bronze Medal to her name, Jasmin Glaesser is ready to make waves at the Rio Games and plans to use her Olympic fitness to take on the women’s pro peloton on the road. With big ambitions for the year that include shooting for Olympic gold on the track and to be a GC contender in top North American stage races such as the Women’s Amgen Tour of California - Empowered With SRAM, Glaesser isn’t messing around. If the Silver Medal she earned at Track World Championships in the women's points race is any indication of her intentions this year, she's definitely ready to compete.
To find out what drives this rising star, we spoke with Jasmin at the Rally Cycling team camp in Calabasas, California.
What’s your specialty on the team?
Last year my role was mainly as a time trialist and as an all-rounder for some of the stage racing.
What are your goals for the team camp and for the season?
This year I’m splitting my time between team Rally and the Canadian National Track Team where we are gearing up to defend an Olympic Bronze Medal on the track. But Rally is super supportive in helping me to balance those two goals. Last year I had some really great performances on the road and I’m hoping to back that up this year.
Have you already been selected for the Olympic team?
Technically, no. Our Olympic selection is finalized in April, but I was part of the team in London in 2012. I’ve got some big expectations for what we can do this time around and I want to make sure that the team follows through on that.
What’s it like to be an Olympian?
It just feels like a regular team and I’m just another rider on the team. Everyone here has great results in their own right especially with a stacked men’s team this year and I want us to be able to be able to definitely make a name for ourselves on the women’s team and show that we can get comparable results.
What are your long-term goals, professionally?
I’d love to be a real contender in some of the international stage racing. I mean, now with Tour of California and some of the UCI races being on North American soil too, it makes it a lot easier to access that level of competition, so that’s what I’m targeting after the Summer Olympics, becoming a more well rounded rider.
So, going for more of a GC focus?
Definitely GC and definitely hoping to be up there on the time trials. It’s always been one of my favorite events, to race against the clock. I’m hoping to build on that in the future.
What do you enjoy doing outside of cycling?
I’m a real yoga enthusiast. I love rock climbing, which usually doesn’t fit into the season that well. I love cooking and I’m plant powered. I like drinking coffee. I really enjoy traveling and obviously that is part of the job, so it’s good to love that part.
I heard you say you are plant powered, are you vegan?
Vegan primarily, I’ve had to make some adjustments because of where we’ve been traveling over the last year, so I’ve had to include some dairy for when you are somewhere like France for two weeks where there’s not too many options. It’s been sometimes an added challenge but also really rewarding and I think something that really works for me.
What impact has your family played on your development as a rider?
My family was actually not super supportive initially of cycling, and you know, fair enough. I was just starting at university and it seemed like a big distraction from my academic goals, but I think that as they’ve seen the level of commitment it takes and how much hard work it takes to be a high performance athlete they’ve seen that is definitely something that compares to academics in that sense and something that will transfer over in the future as well for my career.
Describe the best moment in your cycling career.
There’s a lot of great moments, but my favorite was the Pan Am games last summer where I raced with Kirsti Lay, who is on Rally this year as well, and Alison Beveridge, another member of the Canadian track team. We were a fairly small contingent in the race but we went in and raced aggressively from the start and didn’t give up. We just kept attacking until something stuck and I won the race out of a break. My teammate took third out of a bunch sprint, so that was something that truly showed what committed teamwork and working together as a unit can achieve. I think that’s what I hope to do every race. It doesn’t always work out quite that well, but it’s definitely worth trying.
How long have you been riding SRAM components?
This will be my second year with Rally Cycling. Also, my home bikes have always been SRAM powered, so I’ve enjoyed working with SRAM components and they are obviously high tech, low weight components. So it’s great that we have you guys on board this year and it will hopefully be another great year.
Jasmin's teammates on the Rally Cycling team training in Calabasas, CA.
What goes through your mind when you are racing?
It depends. I think last year there was a few times when I got to take on more of a leadership role out there on the road and that was definitely a new position and I was really thinking about how you maximize every rider’s strengths right now, and how everyone is feeling that day, and how do I get the most out of them. But for myself it’s generally; keep focused on the moment even if there isn’t much happening in the race. You can think about nutrition, you can think about sitting on a better draft, getting ready for whatever is happening on the road; but it’s definitely about staying focused on the moment and not thinking too far down the road.
What do you do to develop the mental fortitude required to compete at this level?
Over the years I’ve definitely found that to stay competitive at the bigger races you need to not just be physically strong but mentally as well, so I’ve taken a lot more time for myself to make sure that I’m balanced and that I don’t burn out mentally too quick in the season. That’s where yoga has come in for me and taking that time for myself when everything else is stressful and potentially outside of my control and just finding that moment to re-center myself and keep the bigger perspective in mind and clear my head and know what to do moving forward to achieve our goals.
Rock climbing is good for that too.
Definitely. Sometimes its just good to get away from the bike and totally just do something else and find that time to find a new perspective on what I’m doing. I wish I had more time to do those kinds of things, but of course what I do is a job and you have to take it seriously. There’s definitely a time commitment there that you have to respect as well.
What do you worry about that keeps you up at night?
Well, last night I kept dreaming about missing this interview and missing the team ride! [laughs] I don’t want to be that person! But no, I think I’m so invested in what I do I am always worried that somehow there are unexpected challenges that I won’t be able to handle myself. I had a crash recently and I got a concussion so that’s an example of something that you have to deal with. You have to think about how you want to get where you want to go, to not just be physically ready, but also be ready to compete at your best. It’s part of any sport really, managing your health.
This is the first year of the UCI Women’s WorldTour. What does female inclusion in the WorldTour mean for you and for women’s cycling in general, in your opinion?
I think it was a long time coming, for sure. Like I mentioned it’s great that some of those bigger races are starting to come to North America. Last year we had the Philadelphia World Cup come over here and obviously with the Tour of California being over here it just gives a chance for domestic teams to race on that world level and for a lot of riders to see their potential outside of the domestic scene. So there’s a lot of motivation for younger riders to be able to access that level of racing and to race against those top female cyclists in the world, and that’s going to grow the sport in North America and obviously grow our talent and our ability to compete at every level of the sport.