A symbol of hope: Teniel Campbell to feature in women’s Tour de France

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

In this August 7, 2019 file photo, Teniel Campbell of Trinidad and Tobago competes in the women’s road cycling individual time trial finals at the Pan American Games in Lima Peru. (AP Photo) –

European-based women’s pro cyclist Teniel Campbell will be the first cyclist from TT to feature at the Tour de France women’s edition – Le Tour de France Femmes Avec Zwift.

The gruelling eight-stage race totals a massive 956km and rides off with the opening leg in Clermont, France, on Sunday.

Campbell, who rides professionally with Team Jayco Alula, confirmed her participation in the race’s second edition via an emotional post to Facebook on Tuesday.

“Ten years ago, every time Le Tour de France starts there sits Akil Campbell (brother) locked in and loaded. No one could touch the remote, no one had access to the most comfortable position on the couch.

Fast-forward to the present, he gets to watch his sister on TV at Le Tour de France Femmes Avec Swift.”

Campbell was moved by her confirmation to compete in such a prestigious race and believes it’s a step in the right direction to help inspire other TT and Caribbean riders to keep believing in themselves and working towards their dreams.

“Let this be a symbol of hope, especially to the smaller cycling nations and the athletes who are often overlooked. You have what it takes to achieve once you believe because that spark starts with you.”

After coming off an array of injuries in 2022, Campbell said she had to “re-learn everything” and credited the Almighty for giving her another chance at her craft.

“I had to relearn everything…how to raise my leg, how to walk, how to ride, how to trust, how to be mentally strong, build muscle, coordination, skills; all the fundamentals. It brings me to tears when I think about it.”

Campbell’s only wish was that her late “Uncle Frank” could be alive to see her race but she believes “he continues to look on with a smile.”

TT Cycling Federation president Rowena Williams was elated with such a historic achievement, a first for TT cycling.

“We’re very happy, elated that she can get those opportunities. It’s something that all road cyclists aim for in their career, being part of this Tour. It’s a dream for them to make it to this level.

“With the introduction of women in the Tour de France, it’s great. Teniel is showing that we, TT, have the ability to be a part of a prestigious event such as this. It’s a great opportunity and it has opened up the door for the Caribbean.

“She continues to excel in the sport, show that we have the talent in this hemisphere. We’re proud of her and congratulate her. She’s been persistent in her career goals and she deserves it,” Williams said.

The eight-race schedule features four flat stages, two hilly stages, one mountain stage with a summit finish and one individual time trial (22km). The fourth stage, Cahors to Rodez (177km), will be the race’s longest.

The mountain stage’s profile alternates between rolling and very hilly, with the highest point at an altitude of 2,110m.

A total of €250,000 will be awarded across the different stages, jersey and team competitions, including €50,000 to the winner of the final general classification.