“Without discipline and a strong mentality, the passion for the sport can turn against you”
Belén González is a rider in the first women’s professional cycling team in the Region of Murcia, promoted by the Marcelino Oliver Foundation. She tells us how the project was born and how the cyclists prepare to compete in this demanding sport.
We talked to Belén González, cyclist of the women’s cycling team Soltec Team Costa Cálida.
1. The Soltec Team Costa Cálida was created by the Marcelino Oliver Foundation, a non-profit organisation that helps cyclists who are victims of traffic accidents. To know a little more about the history of the team, tell us, how and when did this sports project come about?
This project was born in 2021 with the entry of the renewable energy company Soltec, where it started as a team in the Vuelta Colombia, where the Soltec Team has a subsidiary. Soltec Europe started this year. We are a young team on the road, but thanks to the support of the companies that bet on us, we are in full expansion and growth.
2. How many female riders are in the team?
The team is made up of Camila and Karol Muñoz from Colombia, Maryoli from Venezuela, Tess from Dominican Republic, Tesfay from Ethiopia and 6 Spaniards including myself from Murcia.
3. What motivated you (or motivated you personally) to get involved in this project?
Personally, what encouraged me was the fact that I was going to grow as an athlete and professional in this sport. Also, the line that the sponsors follow fits with my way of being and seeing life, as they show that they have a great concern for the environment, promote healthy eating and provide high quality supplements, which are essential for sportsmen and women. If this were not the case, I don’t know if I would have been motivated enough to join the team.
4. You are the first professional women’s cycling team in the Region of Murcia. Do you think there are more difficulties for women in this sport?
Yes and no. Yes, because women’s professional cycling is coming out of its shell and we have to make a niche for ourselves, but at the same time no because just as we are being born, we are also growing. Women’s sport in general is booming and this can be seen in the fact that there are more and more women athletes and in the big companies that decide to support us and put our efforts into value in this way.
5. What is the most demanding aspect of cycling in general?
For me, where you must have the most strength and where I work hard is in the mind. It may seem silly, but a cyclist can move a lot of watts but if she doesn’t also demand a lot from herself mentally in the moments of suffering (which are not few), she gets little or nothing. In the end, we spend many hours on the bike leaving aside other things such as social life, family, and other hobbies, and if you don’t have discipline and an “iron” mentality, your passion for this sport can turn against you.
6. Your debut has been in the I Women Cycling Pro Costa de Almería, but the calendar of commitments will take you to national and international destinations. Any especially demanding appointment that you have marked in red in the calendar?
Right now, we all have our minds set on the Vuelta Andalucía, which will be held on the 3rd, 4th and 5th of May. They are three consecutive and quite demanding stages in which we will measure our strength against ProTour teams, so for weeks we are all preparing for it.
7. How do you prepare for these events?
Putting in a lot of quality hours on the bike, resting as much as possible between sessions and eating properly, there are no other tricks than these if you do things right.
8. What is your usual training routine and how do you organise your training throughout the week?
We try to keep a fixed schedule for training, although sometimes it is difficult to reconcile it with family and work life. In my case, I get up early during the week so I can train before going to work and I leave myself another slot in the evenings when I arrive to train for another hour, although the organisation really depends on the volume of training sessions that week and the hours I have to work.
9. Which part or parts of the body suffer the most when cycling, and how do you look after them?
The part of the body that suffers most are the legs, which are our engine, especially the quadriceps and hamstrings. In the end, care is based on training well, resting or trying to rest when we are not training, regular discharges at the physiotherapist and supplementation to help us recover the muscles faster.
10. In your case, you are also a nutritionist. Do you take care of your nutrition in order to perform at your best? How do you do it?
Of course. Training hard doesn’t do much good if we don’t give our body all the food and nutrients it needs.
In my case, as a nutrition professional, I have my diet structured according to the training I do each day, as calorie requirements can vary greatly from one day to the next. But as a general idea, my diet is based on the Mediterranean diet, as it is the most complete nutritionally speaking, and it is based on my daily energy requirements.
11. Do you supplement your diet with sports supplements? What supplements do you take in your team?
Yes, I think it is very important to do so because of the physical demands we are subjected to daily.
Generally speaking, in the team we consume liposomal vitamins, which are absorbed more quickly; minerals such as magnesium, which helps with muscle fatigue and takes care of the nervous system; protein, to speed up the recovery of muscle fibres; omega 3, to reduce inflammation after training and prevent cardiovascular problems; and casein recovery to be able to rest well and help our body continue muscle repair while we sleep.
12. What benefits do you get from sports supplementation?
Recovery is fundamental in cycling, as there are few sports in which you compete at a high level for several days in a row, and even weeks if we are thinking of grand tours.
The musculature suffers a lot and is damaged at each stage, so it is always good to have help beyond nutrition and massages. This is where supplementation comes into play, which helps us to be more effective at rest times and to speed up muscle recovery by reducing fatigue and helping us to rest better.
13. Do you think it is important for sports supplementation to be natural, as is the case with MARNYS® and MARNYS SPORTS®?
It seems to me a fundamental aspect when choosing a supplement that is natural. I say this because, apart from the fact that the flavours are milder (because many supplements have a very artificial taste), because they dissolve better in milk or water and ensure that they are free of banned substances, which is vitally important for us.
14. Finally, what advice would you give to a woman who wants to dedicate herself to professional cycling?
That you work hard and have dedication and enthusiasm. Everyone trains wonderfully and with enthusiasm when it is sunny, with little air and the day is fine, but rainy days, windy days and all the hours we spend training alone can only be overcome by maintaining that enthusiasm and passion for this beautiful and long-suffering sport.