Cycling in Jamaica has a long way to go before it can truly be competitive at the highest level, but Llori Sharpe is one cyclist who wants to play her part in changing all that.
Sharpe began her athletic career as a swimmer, participating competitively between the ages of seven and 15 in the pool. Her swim instructor then suggested she try triathlon, after she had put in some solid 5K run times.
Sharpe’s father purchased her a bike, and she began road training with the national cycling coach.
“I got into cycling back in 2015/16 when I was making the switch from swimming to triathlon,” Sharpe told the Jamaica Observer.
“At the time, I had been swimming competitively for roughly eight with the Tornadoes Swim Club but also discovered I had some talent in distance running from all the 5km road races I’d been doing. So my then swim coach [Wendy Lee] suggested I try my hand at triathlon, and that’s how cycling came into the picture,” the 23-year-old added.
Sharpe represented her country on multiple occasions as a youth before transitioning to full-time riding in 2020. With a long list of achievements for jamaica, Sharpe has also shown her talent on the international stage with a bronze medal at the Caribbean Cycling Championships time trial.
Sharpe was one of many applicants for Canyon//SRAM Generation’s first year when they formed their development team. Sharpe earned a spot on the team and relocated to Europe for the 2022 season. She spent the previous two seasons riding for Canyon//SRAM Generation, where she became the first Jamaican cyclist, male or female, to ride for a Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) road team.
“It’s a great feeling as you can surely imagine. On a more personal note, I’m proud of my efforts to have been able to make the huge jump from the local and regional scenes to the European peloton and I can only hope that opportunities for other Jamaican riders [whether female or male] can arise in the near future,” she said.
“My time with CANYON//SRAM Generation was nothing short of eventful. I had the opportunity to train, race and visit several new countries all whilst doing something I really love and enjoy.
“I also met and befriended quite a few people while in Europe which made my time there more enjoyable given how far away I was from home. This season was my second and last with CANYON//SRAM Generation. I will be moving on to another team for 2024,” Sharpe further said.
Sharpe’s notable achievements as a cyclist include winning silver at the 2023 Elite Caribbean Cycling Championships, which were held in Guadeloupe from October 14 to 15. Sharpe finished second in the 70km race in 2 hours, 8 minutes, and 29.66 seconds, just under 5 seconds behind Guadeloupe’s Briche, who won in 2 hours, 8 minutes, and 23.89 seconds. Martinique’s Kellieanne Julus finished third in 2 hours, 12 minutes, 42 seconds.
“My primary goal for the event was to secure a podium spot, and I was really glad I achieved that. I’d be lying if I said that heading into the championships I wasn’t mentally and physically drained. I’ve been racing since March, but nonetheless, copping the silver medal was a great way to end the season, and I was even happier that I could share the moment with my mom who accompanied me.
“I am super proud of the silver medal at the Caribbean Championships as well as graduating from University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus in Barbados with first-class honours. I will always strive to learn and grow,” said Sharpe who also runs a chocolate-making business alongside her parents.