Multi-discipline sprinter Maggie Coles-Lyster started 2022 where she left off from her inaugural season on a women’s Continental road team, DNA Pro Cycling Team, by scooping podium spots and victories. In the closing days of the team’s camp in March, the 23-year-old Canadian, dubbed ‘Magnum’, popped another extra large bottle of sparkling wine with a win on stage 3 of the Tucson Bicycle Classic, and then she took the points lead in the American Criterium Cup with a second-place finish at Sunny King Criterium last week.
A year ago she embarked on her first full season in road cycling and finished second in the overall individual standings for the USA Cycling Pro Road Tour and USA Crits series and took top prizes at the Armed Forces Cycling Classic and Winston-Salem Cycling Classic.
After accumulating 10 podiums in criteriums across the US, she skipped the off-season and hit the track in Europe as one 72 elite racers in the inaugural UCI Track Champions League in November and December. Her love for the track began when she was in elementary school in western Canada. She earned a junior track world title in the points race in 2017, and sees the track as her path to the Olympic Games.
“Since I started racing at 8 years old I’ve dreamed of being an Olympic gold medalist so I will be gunning hard for Paris 2024 in the Omnium, Madison and Team Pursuit,” Coles-Lyster told Cyclingnews from Scotland, where she arrived last week to take part in the Glasgow UCI Track Nations Cup, April 21-24.
“That will be the only Nations Cup I will do this year, with Commonwealth Games and Track World Championships being my other goal races on the track. At Glasgow, I will be racing the Omnium and Elimination, both of which are events that I’ve put a lot of work into over the past four years. We [Canada] have a very new and young team pursuit team and finished fourth at Worlds last year, so we’ll have a couple of key events that we’ll work on gearing up for.”
Last year at the Champions League series, Coles-Lyster finished three points off the podium in the Women’s Endurance division after four rounds of competition across Spain, Lithuania and Great Britain. She will be one of the athletes to make an appearance later this summer in the documentary series about the league, Back on Track, released April 4 through GCN+ and Eurosport.
In between the track events, Coles-Lyster will switch from the red-maple-leaf national kit to the bright pink colours of DNA Pro Cycling, for her quest to lead the team at the American Criterium Cup series and a return to stage racing. Her team is competing currently at Redlands Bicycle Classic in California, a USA Cycling Pro Road Tour five-day race that returned after a two-year hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Our team is focused on the series, but we also have plans for the classic North American stage races which have returned (Redlands, Gila, Joe Martin). I believe we will be really strong in stage races, and gravel, but I’ll be focusing on winning crits and a supporting role, chasing sprint points in stage races,” Coles-Lyster said.
Just before her 19th birthday in February 2018, Coles-Lyster was hospitalised as a result of a hard crash in the final scratch race of the omnium at the Six Day Copenhagen track event. She suffered multiple fractures to her face and ribs, a punctured lung and a concussion. She was back on a bicycle within a couple of weeks, but it took months to recover completely from post-concussion symptoms.
She said she’s looking forward to “calling myself a stage racer again”. She is still a U23 rider too, so has big plans to sweep that category with teammates Kaitlyn Rauwerda of Canada and Kira Payer of the US.
“After some nasty crashes and concussions in 2018, I lost a lot of confidence in road racing when I lost fitness while recovering. To go from that to putting in a lot of hard work over the pandemic, to top 10 in GC at Joe Martin Stage Race last year and calling myself a stage racer again is huge for me.”
Her commitment to the UCI 2.2 Joe Martin Stage Race, May 19-22, will keep her away from the Rochester Twilight Criterium on May 21, the second stop of the new American Criterium Cup. However, the eight races on the series calendar are in her bulls eye for a share of the $100,000 prize purse, shared equally between elite men and elite women at the end of the season.
“Having a series with points is cool, having a series with money is epic! It adds another motivator for teams to show up to all the events and fill out the fields and race hard – all of which makes criterium racing great for the riders, the fans, and the communities we race in,” she said. “Crits are such a fun discipline for riders and fans – it’s one of the reasons I love racing in the US.
With a huge effort in the final stretch of the Sunny King Criterium, Coles-Lyster chased the back wheel of Skylar Schneider (L39ION of Los Angeles), but ran out of pavement for the win. The effort over the one-hour race gave her the sprint points lead, and had her tied with for the overall lead with Skylar Schneider. She wasn’t worried about missing one of the races.
“What motivates me to put on DNA kit each day is to get stronger and win more races because I love winning. I love winning for my teammates who put faith in me. However, more importantly, to win for a team that has supported and given opportunities to and devoted all their time and efforts to female cyclists for the past 10 years. I put on the kit each day because it’s in my DNA.”