Panamanian Cyclists Set to Blaze a Trail with First Ever Central American Continental Women’s Team

Panamanian Cyclists Set to Blaze a Trail with First Ever Central American Continental Women’s Team

Panamanian cyclists Annabel Prieto, Belkys Montenegro, Maraya López, and Zulianys Fernández are set to be part of Team Soltec Iberoamerica in 2024, marking the first-ever Continental Women’s Team from Central America, as announced by the Panamanian Cycling Federation (Fepaci).

In a historic development for Panamanian cycling, Annibel Prieto, Belkys Montenegro, Maraya López, and Zulianys Fernández are gearing up to join Team Soltec Iberoamerica in 2024. This landmark decision, disclosed by the Panamanian Cycling Federation (Fepaci) on Tuesday, signifies the birth of Central America’s inaugural Continental Women’s Team.

Soltec, a team steeped in Spanish cycling tradition, is carving a path forward in partnership with the emerging powerhouse of the Americas. Panama, a land that unites the world through its iconic canal and progressively embraces a burgeoning cycling culture, aspires to become a cycling hub akin to the “Dutch experience” on American soil. The message from the governing body of cycling in Panama underscores the significance of this collaboration. “Soltec is a women’s team with Spanish tradition. It forges its way alongside the new force in the Americas. This land connects the world through its canal and is increasingly captivating a massive cycling culture, which in a few years will transform Panama into a ‘mini-Holland’ of the Americas,” the statement exclaims.

Team Soltec Iberoamerica, prominently backed by the Marcelino Oliver Foundation led by Marcelino Oliver and Marcelino Pacheco, has a dual objective. Firstly, it seeks to expand women’s cycling across the region, allowing female cyclists to embark on a unique sporting journey. “The Iberoamerican project aims to provide an opportunity for Women’s Cycling from across Latin America to compete in the Old World,” affirms Fepaci. This visionary project aspires to empower female cyclists from diverse Latin American nations, fostering a global exchange of cycling talent. Notably, the Continental Team Soltec Iberoamerica will carry a Panamanian license while composed of riders hailing from Panama, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Chile, Uruguay, Turkey, Russia, Poland, and Spain. This diverse representation reflects the team’s commitment to fostering international collaboration and elevating women’s cycling on a global scale.

Furthermore, the project harbors ambitions that extend beyond the cycling track. It envisions a future where Panama, as a nation, can dream of qualifying for the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics, thanks to the growing influence of cycling and the collective efforts of these dedicated athletes. While Panama has secured a spot for the 2024 Paris Olympics in the men’s category, the nation is eager to make strides in women’s cycling and propel itself onto the global stage. The successful participation of Panamanian cyclist Christofer Jurado in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics marked a significant milestone, and the emergence of Team Soltec Iberoamerica promises to be a catalyst for further achievements in the sport.

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As Panamanian cycling takes a historic step forward by creating the Continental Women’s Team Soltec Iberoamerica, the nation is poised to make its mark on the international stage. The journey of Annabel Prieto, Belkys Montenegro, Maraya López, and Zulianys Fernández embodies the spirit of resilience and determination that defines the sport of cycling. With each pedal stroke, they pave the way for future generations of female cyclists, transforming Panama into a cycling powerhouse that transcends borders and inspires dreams.

In recent years, Panama has seen a surge in interest and participation in cycling, thanks partly to events like the Vuelta a Panamá, which have gained popularity and drawn local talent to the sport. The creation of Team Soltec Iberoamerica represents a pivotal moment in the country’s cycling history. Team Soltec Iberoamerica’s roster is a testament to the diversity and international collaboration that underpin this ambitious project. The team comprises riders from various countries, each contributing their unique skills and experiences to the collective effort. This cross-cultural exchange enriches the team and strengthens the bonds between nations.

One of the primary goals of Team Soltec Iberoamerica is to promote women’s cycling in Latin America. By providing a platform for female cyclists to compete at the highest level, the team aims to inspire the next generation of riders across the region. The vision is clear: to see more Latin American cyclists making their mark on the global stage. The Marcelino Oliver Foundation’s support is instrumental in realizing this vision. Marcelino Oliver and Marcelino Pacheco, the foundation’s leaders, have shown a deep commitment to women’s cycling and its potential to empower women and bring nations together through sport.

As Team Soltec Iberoamerica embarks on its journey in 2024, the eyes of the cycling world will be on this trailblazing team. They carry the hopes and dreams of a nation and a region, and their success will be a testament to the power of determination, collaboration, and the spirit of sport. The significance of this moment cannot be overstated. In a sport historically dominated by men, the emergence of a Continental Women’s Team from Central America is a breakthrough that paves the way for greater gender equality in cycling. It sends a powerful message to aspiring female cyclists that they, too, can reach the highest echelons of the sport.

Team Soltec Iberoamerica is not just a team but a symbol of the boundless potential of human ambition and the ability to overcome obstacles. With each turn of the pedal, these Panamanian and international cyclists are not only racing toward victory but also toward a future where barriers are broken, dreams are realized, and the world of women’s cycling is forever changed. This is a journey that we, cycling enthusiasts and beyond, can proudly support and celebrate.

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