Emily Newsom has a lot on her plate – multi-discipline racing, motherhood, musician and more. However, the 39-year-old admitted recently that “2022 showed me I couldn’t do it all and do it all well,” so she has made a move to Continental-level Roxo Racing for the new year and will focus on a second round of the Life Time Grand Prix off-road series, where she finished fifth overall last year.
The new Roxo Racing squad, based in Fort Worth, Texas, moves from US domestic elite status to Continental level with 10 North American riders, including Grand Prix champion Haley Smith joining Newsom for a focus on gravel racing. It was an obvious choice for the accomplished rider who calls “Cowtown” home and wanted to narrow her focus.
“I participated in the 2022 Life Time Grand Prix and through it, discovered my love for off-road racing,” she said. “The unique format the Grand Prix provided kept the racing exciting and motivating throughout the year, as well as giving me opportunities to make new friends and see some awesome places.”
For the past five years she has been with the TIBCO-SVB programme, which was elevated this past season to the Women’s WorldTour as EF Education-TIBCO-SVB. Newsom departs the highest level of the women’s pro peloton to focus on the ever-expanding gravel calendar and a limited road programme that will allow her to be closer to home and family in the US.
“I haven’t left the road! But I have narrowed my focus and will only race a few road races in the United States with my primary goal being gravel,” Newsom said in a statement to announce her departure from EF Education-TIBCO-SVB.
“Last year showed me I perform my best when I have a stable home base to return to after races. American riders racing in Europe usually move there for the racing season, something that has not been possible for me to do. Travelling back and forth took a toll and though I was happy to carry out what was asked of me, I felt that it was difficult to find my groove.”
During her tenure with Team TIBCO, Newsom spent countless kilometres in breakaways in stage races and spring Classics. She had a string of high finishes in time trials this season, including fifth in the time trial at US Pro Road National Championships.
It was off the pavement that she turned gravel to gemstones. In 2021, she won the inaugural edition of Gravel Locos in Hico, Texas, finishing the 155-mile off-road event in 8 hours, 4 minutes, a full 20 minutes ahead of the second-placed pro woman. She has had a pair of runner-up finishes at Unbound Gravel 200 and Big Sugar Gravel. She recently accepted an invitation to return to the Grand Prix competition for next year, the women’s field expanded from 30 to 35 pro riders.
“With gravel booming right in my backyard, combined with my natural propensity towards it, it seemed like a wise step to turn my attention more fully on it. I also have discovered how much I love the environment surrounding gravel and mountain biking. Riding through wide open countryside, dense forests or stark desert mountains, I feel a great peace and I know that I am happier here than in a chaotic peloton,” she said.
“The change of focus feels right. It has been coming for a while now and several events coincided perfectly to make the change happen seamlessly. Though I feel some twinge of sadness to leave one path and pursue another, I also feel a great amount of excitement and determination. I have a renewed sense of motivation and am confident in my ability to be successful in off-road racing. There is still a lot of work to be done, but I’m very good at working hard.”
Newsom is a fine-tuned performer on and off the bike. She earned her master’s degree in piano performance. She took time away from athletics, mainly running and triathlons at the time, to have a daughter, Marijke, seven years ago and then returned to cycling with a full focus.
She said early in her 20s she wanted to be a concert pianist. When that dream “seemed to crumble”, she said cycling helped her regain focus, but also enjoy a life of travelling and “seeing life in colorful angles”.
“Finding cycling after music was the perfect example that there are many things in life to pursue and after one dream ends, there is always another one waiting. And while I am by no means finished cycling, I am also excited for what lies beyond it.”