Orillia cyclist Isabella Holmgren is bringing back her second rainbow jersey of the year to Canada after being crowned champion at the world championships in Scotland.
Holmgren, 18, became the first Canadian to win the Junior Cyclocross World Championships back in February. She followed that up on Thursday by finishing the Cycling Super Worlds race with a time of one hour seven minutes, 37 seconds to earn the gold.
Her Stimulus Orbea teammate, Marin Lowe from Squamish B.C., took home silver and Severn Township's Ian Ackert raced to the bronze medal in the junior men’s event.
Isabella’s coach and father, Rob Holmgren, says her recent success has been “years in the making.”
“This year we definitely had a focus on building a big engine and making her skills as good as they possibly could be,” he explained. “Some of that was done by some extra road racing and training and sacrificing Canadian Nationals to do a road project in Europe.”
Going into both the Junior Cyclocross World Championships and the Cycling World Championships, the longtime coach said he was confident that both Isabella and her twin sister Ava would reach the podium in Scotland.
“Isabella is a very good climber,” he said. “Ava’s skills are incredible and probably some of the best in the world.”
Unfortunately, Ava, who was also favoured for the win on the technical track in Glentress Forest, was injured in training and unable to compete last week.
“It was one of these freak little things that caught her off guard on the first lap of official training,” Rob Holmgren explained. “I think we would have swept that podium for sure if Ava didn’t get injured. It was a very good course for her."
Ava is recovering well and looking forward to some rest before the cyclocross season starts in the fall, he said.
“There is no rush for Ava to get back to race shape just yet,” Rob Holmgren explained. “We definitely want to make sure she is well-healed and super fit before racing begins.”
Despite her injury, Ava was as excited as anybody for Isabella when she crossed the finish line before the competition.
“It was pretty special,” Rob said.
Both Isabella and Ava will soon officially announce that they have signed a contract with a professional team. They will soon start to train and prepare for the next two years with their new squad where they will race predominantly on the road while also continuing to compete in some mountain bike and cyclocross events.
“They’ve worked so hard to do everything they can,” said the twins' proud father. “It’s not just about turning the pedals over, it’s thousands of hours of skills, competition, nutrition, and they do it all.”
While it’s been Isabella and Ava who have put in the work, he says the twins have been well supported by the community. He thanks Bell Chiropractic, the Ackert family, and his wife Lisa.
“She sees and hears the things that I don’t and we incorporate them into the overall plan,’ he said. “She tends to the emotional side of things and is a good sounding board for me. Mom is very much a part of their success as I am and the community.”
He also thanked all the industry supporters of Isabella and Ava and their team.