Valente Primary Goal is Paris Olympics, Langley to Captain Road Squad
Leadership Transition and Olympic Aspirations
2022 US Pro road champion and Richmond, Virginia resident Emma Langley to captain Virginia’s Blue Ridge TWENTY24 next season. After a tumultuous 2023 season, Langley headed to Pace Ranch in Tucson, Arizona with some of her new teammates, including Melisa Rollins where they competed in the 40th edition of El Tour de Tucson where Rollins finished 2nd. Langley’s WorldTour experience will put her in the role as team captain next year.
Langley is part of a 10-rider roster of multi-discipline athletes led by multi-time track World Champion Jennifer Valente. “I’m thrilled to return to Virginia’s Blue Ridge TWENTY24 for the 2024 season,” said Valente. “The Paris Olympics next summer have been a primary goal, and with the team’s namesake, I have no doubt this is the best place for me. For the last decade, this program has supported me and stood by me. I am looking forward to continuing to balance my track racing ambitions with domestic road races in the upcoming season. This balance has worked well for me in the past and will be a key part of my build toward Paris. The support needed to compete at an Olympic Games goes far beyond race day. Virginia’s Blue Ridge TWENTY24 continues to be a positive and motivating environment for me to push myself. I’m looking forward to representing both VBR and Team USA next year.”
Roster Highlights and Returning Talents
Super sprinter Marlies Mejias, GC rider Emily Ehrlich and double threat off-road specialist and GC contender Melisa Rollins, who is part of the Life Time Grand Prix series in 2024, headline the roster of returning riders. Powerhouse Laurel Quinones and veteran Sofia Arreola return to the squad alongside two U23 athletes, rising star Ruth Holcomb, who joined mid-season in 2023, and Ella Sabo, who is a graduate from the team’s junior program.
Jamie Whitmore also returns to the VBR TWENTY24 program and will be supported in her efforts to make Team USA and compete in the Paralympics.Mejías was one of the most prolific winners on the North American circuit last year, accounting for 16 victories. The 30-year-old from Cuba won stages at the Tour of the Gila and Joe Martin Stage race and both criteriums at the Armed Forces Cycling Classic and all four races of Gateway Cup. She’s looking to qualify on the track for her third Olympic Games this next year. “I am grateful for the opportunity to continue on the team—this year was absolutely amazing!” said Mejias. “And my expectations for the next one are even greater. Together with the incredible women who surround me here, I hope to improve and achieve an even stronger season and to fulfill my dream of participating in my third Olympic Games. Learning, improving, and winning are my goals for next season and there is no better place than with this team.”
Ehrlich won GC titles at national stage races, Valley of the Sun and Redlands Bicycle Classic, as well as two stages at the Tour of the Gila. She capped off her road season with a third place at Chrono Gatineau, a 1.1 UCI time trial in Canada, Ehrlich has also been spending time training on the track with team pursuit goals in mind. “My experience on Virginia’s Blue Ridge TWENTY24 has been nothing but spectacular this season,” said Ehrlich. “I can’t imagine a more perfect team for me. The foundation of experience within the team is invaluable, and the communication and detailed feedback that I always receive has been key for my strong growth this year. I have no doubt I’m in the exact place I need to be to reach my potential as an athlete. I achieved a few big dreams this season including winning a stage race and multiple time trials. I have very big goals for next season including the possibility of qualifying for the Olympic team in multiple disciplines, Pro Road National Championships in Charleston, West Virginia, and of course stage races, which I am incredibly excited for. I’m so grateful for another year with the team, building on new and old relationships with my teammates, visiting the beautiful Roanoke and Blue Ridge Parkway, and performing my very best with a group of extremely motivated women.”
Team Dynamics and Manager’s Perspective
Team General Manager Nicola Cranmer pointed to a number of North American road races which will be a focus for Langley and the team, including UCI events – Joe Martin Stage Race, Tour of the Gila and GP Gatineau. Also in the mix are national championships, Redlands Bicycle Classic and criteriums at Intelligentsia Cup and Tour of America’s Dairyland.
“The road to Paris will be our 19th year as a professional women’s cycling program and our fourth Olympic cycle,” said Cranmer. “Each and every year provides an opportunity to identify and develop new talent, support the continual growth of these women and girls as athletes and as incredible people, celebrate through the successes, and learn and improve through the challenges along the way.
“Team dynamics evolve in so many ways based on the various strengths, personalities, energies, and experiences the athletes bring to the table, and I’m proud of how our team has maintained such an encouraging, supportive, and meaningful environment over the years, to help guide our athletes to reach their own personal gold in conjunction with the team’s achievements.”
Olympic Hopefuls and Track Pursuits
Valente is the reigning Omnium gold medalist from the Tokyo Olympic Games and won silver in Rio as part of the women’s Team Pursuit. She won back-to-back World titles in the Omnium this year and added a Scratch race victory as well in Glasgow. In addition to Valente and Mejías, Olympic hopefuls on the squad are Holcomb and Ehrlich, who are working on team pursuit consideration for the USA.
Meet the Virginia’s Blue Ridge TWENTY24 2024 Roster
Emily Ehrlich (USA)
Ruth Holcomb (USA)
Emma Langley (USA)
Marlies Mejías (Cub)
Laurel Quinones (USA)
Melisa Rollins (USA)
Ella Sabo (USA)
Jennifer Valente (USA)
Jamie Whitmore (USA)