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Hustle, bustle of cycling is hard work, but it's still a Leasure

July 30, 2007|By CHRISTINA DUNMYER / Somerset Daily American

MARTINSBURG, Pa. - Beth Leasure finds herself in very unique situation. The Saint James resident was the only female team director for a men's professional cycling team in the Tour de 'Toona. As impressive as that is to those involved with the sport, Leasure is one of only a handful of women in the world in that position.

"I heard there are some in Europe for elite men's teams and one provincial team in Canada, but I am really in a groundbreaking role," Leasure said. "I'm just doing what I love. It's not easy. Most people who are drawn to this sport have a special mindset, and an intense love of the sport to do this."

Leasure was the guest director for Team Calyon of Montreal. Calyon is an international bank based in France.

"I was so happy they contacted me for this race because I love the Tour de 'Toona," Leasure said. "I assisted for them in the U.S. Pro Week, which is held in Philadelphia. When they heard I wasn't bringing my elite amateur team here, they called me.

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"They are a new team and are doing well to just be in the races and somewhat active. It's a privilege to race against this field, considering the level of talent here."

Leasure worked with a South American team in May, where she honed her skills in interacting with riders, an job that calls for plenty of multitasking.

"It's like high speed rolling chess," Leasure said. "I'm calling strategy to riders, listening to transmissions from officials, analyzing that and providing information. I sometimes even feed the riders out of the car. I also offer mechanical support along with motivational support."

Leasure, who has a degree in international relations, took up cycling 15 years ago to manage the stress of a trauma and believes that is what makes her a great director.

"You have to have certain sensitivities as a director," Leasure said. "The trauma I suffered helps me understand all of the emotions that are used in this sport. I am able to then use that element of understanding, motivationally.

"I like juggling and managing a lot of things at once. My mom jokes that I just like telling people what to do."

The tour concluded Sunday, allowing Leasure to return to her elite amateur team in Western Maryland. She said they will travel to North Carolina for criteriums before moving on to elite nationals.

She will also continue to serve as guest director for the various men's teams who seek her expertise.

The Somerset Daily American is a sister newspaper of The Herald-Mail. Christina Dunmyer may be reached at christinad@dailyamerican.com

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