“It’s very different from what I’m used to,” Isabella Holmgren said. She was three days into Lidl-Trek’s first team camp in Calpe, Spain, ahead of the 2024 season. Both Isabella and her twin sister Ava signed with the WorldTeam this past August. In mid-December, they were finding out just what the support is like on a top road outfit. “We got a ton of new kit a few days ago. It’s just, like, crazy, the amount of stuff that we have and that we get. It’s nice because there’s a lot of people all around supporting. So, for example, I don’t have to cook my own meals or wash my own bike and things like that. There’s people to do that for you and help out. That’s been super nice.”
In spring 2022, Isabella and Ava rode with Stimulus-Orbea, a development squad led by their father Rob. It helped Isabella to her 2023 junior cyclocross world championship win and her sister’s silver at that event. This past year, the twins also worked with Watersley R+D Cycling Team on the road, but continued with Stimulus-Orbea for cross country—the discipline in which Isabella has her other rainbow jersey—and cyclocross. While these outfits are well-run, they simply didn’t have the same resources as a WorldTeam such as Lidl-Trek.
Isabella’s first three days at the team camp featured mostly meetings with team sponsors, photoshoots, some athletic testing and only a little bit of riding. The following day, the team would truly take to the hilly roads of the region on their bikes. In the midst of her busy schedule, Holmgren was trying to incorporate some school work. The hotel’s finicky WiFi, however, was stymying her efforts. Even though the 18-year-old rider has her high school diploma, she was tackling a high school chemistry course that would give her some more options later when she plans to start looking into universities.
Holmgren, the elite Pan Am cyclocross champion, as well as under-23 Canadian CX champ, was looking forward to racing ‘cross in Belgium throughout the Christmas period. Then, there’d be another team camp, followed by the cyclocross world championships in early February. Afterwards, she was expecting to head home to Canada for…