Francesca Selva: Racing in Europe

Posted by: Natsuko Category: Uncategorized

Francesca Selva: Racing in Europe

Francesca (Fra) Selva has been racing on Rene Herse tires for years, on road and track. Her feedback is part of our R&D. Her spirit and the joy she gets from cycling inspire us all. We recently caught up with Fra as she prepares the 2024 season.

RH: Our readers mostly know you from racing fixed-gear bikes in Italy. Last year, you went to Belgium to race on the road. Why change?

Fra: Once I reached the top level on the track, I realized that 99% of the riders also compete on the road. I’ve seen it especially when I train with the national team. I needed to add some real road racing to grow as an athlete and be more competitive on the track. That’s why I’ve joined the UCI Continental Team Torelli that is based in Belgium. And after some great experiences last year, I can say I will definitely be back this year.

Fra: Unfortunately I didn’t do any fixed races last year—because in Italy there weren’t any. Since they didn’t organized the national championships in 2023, I’m still the national champion for another year (above)! I hope there will be some races next year, because fixed is one of the most fun disciplines, in my opinion.

RH: Tell us about racing in Belgium. How is it different from Italy?

Fra: The level and the types of races. There are races almost every day. Most of them are on flat, tiny roads, in windy and rainy weather. So we racers are always stretched out in a long line, going full gas. It’s so similar to a track race as far as the effort is concerned, just longer.

RH: How long are the races usually? Are they circuits or road races?

Fra: The UCI races are mostly on the road, with some climbs, around 130 km (80 miles) long. I also do a lot of kermesse races that are held in towns all over Belgium. Usually there is a circuit that ranges from 2 km to less than 10 km, and the entire race is about 100 km in total.

RH: Who are the racers?

Fra: In the UCI races, I race with all the pro riders from the World Tour and the continental teams. And all riders use the kermesse races mostly to train and have fun. That’s how I’ve raced with Lotte Kopecky wearing the rainbow jersey last year (above).

RH: I’m sure these professional racers are really, really fast. How was it to adapt to the different type of racing?

Fra: I’m not really making moves in the UCI races yet. I just suffer a lot. [laughs] In the kermesse, I felt pretty comfortable because I’m good at positioning and I also love to race in the rain—which happens quite a lot in Belgium. And the races are about two-and-a-half hours of all-out racing, so it’s just like doing an omnium on the track, but without the breaks between the races!

RH: What do you enjoy most about racing in Belgium?

Fra: Probably that if I don’t get a great result today, I can race again tomorrow and give it another try. Having so many races is just amazing. But I would say the best part is probably the fans. It doesn’t matter whether you are a superstar or a nobody, there will be people asking you for photos and autographs.

RH: That sounds like fun! If I may ask, what is your least favorite part?

Fra: That there is more prize money in the intermediate sprints than for the finish. I can sprint only once!

RH: Which races did you win last year?

Fra: There were quite a few… I won a Derny race in Wilrik (above, center). In Belgium, they do motorpaced Derny races everywhere, on the track, on the road. This one was near Brusells. There was a 10 km qualification race, then the first four finishers raced the 10k final. I won in front of Helene Hester in the European Championship jersey.

In Aarhus (Denmark), I won all three races (scratch, elimination and point race), and of corse the G.C. (general classification). With Amalie Winther Olsen, we won the Madison in Prostejov (Czech Republic) and the flying lap during the Six-Days in Fiorenzuola (Italy). And I won the elimination during the Six-Days in Pordenone (Italy).

RH: You were selected to ride in the Champions’ League. Tell us about this.

Fra: The UCI Track Champions’ League is the most important series on the track cycling calendaronly the world championships are more important. It’s organized by the UCI and Eurosport, the TV company. We carry cameras on our bikes! Each event consists of just 3 hours of racing, with super-fast, short races. There were five rounds: Mallorca, Berlin (above, with me in the center), Paris and London (twice). Eighteen riders from all over the world competed. Twelve riders were selected at the world championships, plus there were six wild cards.

RH: That must have been exciting!

Fra: I couldn’t believe it! But it was also a big responsibility: I was the only Italian in the bunch.

RH: Tell us about your bikes. What do you ride on the road?

Fra: On the road, I’m using a Cervelo Caledonia with Rene Herse tires—Chinook Pass 28 mm on the front and Cayuse Pass 26 mm on the rear wheel—with Extralight casings. Like many pros, I’m running tubes. However, for races with cobblestones, I’m really looking forward to the new tubeless 31 mm Orondo Grade tires. I’m so confident on my bike, even when it’s raining, because I trust my tires 100%. I prefer to use a big tire at the front to drive better into the corners.

RH: How about on the track?

Fra: On my Handsling track bike (above in Prostejov), I use an FMB × Rene Herse 23 mm tubular on the front and a 25 mm on the rear.

RH: You don’t get paid to race on Rene Herse tires. Why do you choose our tires?

Fra: I think the tires are the most important parts of my bikes. You can have the best frame and components, but if you don’t trust your tires, you can’t push the limits.

RH: What are your plans and dreams for the future?

Fra: It’s going to be a big year for me! I’ll try to win all the kermess races in Belgium! (Maybe…) Seriously, I hope to put my name in the results of some of the UCI races this year. The biggest race I will do is the World Tour in London, the RideLondon Classique, in late May. I’m very excited to sprint in front of Buckingham Palace! Then I will have a very busy summer on the track, with Six-Days in Fiorenzuola and London as my big goals, followed by races all over Europe.

RH: Thank you and good luck! We are so excited for you!

Fra: Thanks for letting me share all of this with you.

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