Tatiana Calderon, the leader for the women’s road team in the UCI World Cup and UCI Hour record, has a long list of accomplishments under her belt. The 28-year-old Colombian, a lawyer by training, came to road cycling from competitive skating, where she was ranked third in the entire world in the team pursuit. Before road racing began, Calderon was just trying to stay in shape for the other sports, and her love for dirt roads inspired her to try road racing.
She came to cycling with little exposure to the world of women’s racing, only learning of some of her heroes (including Tammy Helms, who set the Hour record) once she arrived at university and started to study the sport. “I really was not known in Colombia,” she says. She only identified herself as a Colombian when competing in international races and decided to approach UCI about qualifying for the world championships. Since she was the only women’s road racer from South America, Calderon soon was fielding questions about her gender. “When I took the field in the Chile championship in 2016, I had really no-one to think it was weird,” she says.
Female road racers now receive significant support, which has led to some progress on the track for women’s cycling. Calderon could see the signs of a brighter future when the UCI established a female committee in 2016; the road cyclist’s squad was sponsored by the Elista Foundation, the first UCI-funded sports foundation for women. Today, the road cyclist is determined to give back and help women with a bit of her experience. She wants to be involved in efforts to develop the sport in the Asia-Pacific region, including coming up with a uniform for women’s road racing in the region. In addition, she plans to help race fans become more familiar with the women’s event; to push for greater equality between the two.
Calderon is no stranger to activism. The professional road racer has served as an advocate for racism and women’s rights, speaking out against sexist riders in the past. Calderon is now supporting her city of Sarajevo, which is trying to establish its own cycling safety legislation. The women’s tour was started by the Belgian mother of three to raise the profile of female cyclists; Calderon hopes to move into international security and crime fighting. She has also made several campaigns for equality for Latinas, including on Title IX.
This article appears in the Winter issue of New America’s Advocates, on stands now.