A young West Allis native travelled to Doha, Qatar, to compete in the UCI World Championship. 18 year-old Skylar Schneider has already claimed national championships in road cycling disciplines. She took the silver medal and second place in the road race at the Championship, and took fourth place in the time trial.
Skylar's first professional race was when she was 13 years-old, holding the title of youngest professional female cyclist for a few years, and she still remains one of the youngest in the field.
While she might be the fastest in the world, she’s not even always the fastest Schneider in Wisconsin. Her older sister, Samantha, is also among the top-rated women’s road cyclists in the country. The two race for the Wisconsin-based ISCorp Pro Cycling team, which recently won Best Young Rider, Best Team and the Individual classification for their 2016 season.
As they race together more often, both sisters are honing in on their specific strengths - such as Sam's pure sprinting and Skylar's off-the front racing style.
Skylar admits that training is very competitive between the two of them, but come race day they have nothing but support for each other. "All that competitiveness translates to very effective strategies for racing," she says.
As a part of one of the youngest women's professional team, Skylar says it is not about getting yourself on the podium at all times. In fact, she stresses that cycling is as much of a team sport as football or soccer.
"Being on the Junior team where we're still pretty young, the director stresses that and says if you want to get anywhere in this sport you need to learn that being a good teammate is super important," she says.
As women's cycling becomes more popular and garners greater media coverage, the Schieder sisters take care to set themselves apart through actively marketing themselves, their team and coaching themselves - something that is very rare in the sport.
"There are other sets of sisters in this sport, but just different priorities. Ours is just to stick together and ride this thing out together," Sam says.
The Schneider sisters will wrap up their 2016 season following Skylar's UCI World Championship race, but the training continues year-round. During a typical pre-season, the sisters will ride together for hundreds of miles, up to 30 hours a week.
For the sisters, their training not only enhances their cycling skills, but their connection to each other as well. Sam notes that if she is having a hard time getting on the bike, there's a good chance her sister is feeling the same way - allowing them to adjust their training.
"It takes years to be able to understand your body and whether it's just wanting to be lazy, or if your body is actually really needing recovery," she explains. "Finding that balance is crucial to being a professional athlete."
Moving forward, Sam hopes that she can build off of her success and momentum from this season, despite not being selected for the world championships. In the meantime, both sisters are happy to cheer each other on - on and off the road.