One year, one month and four days after giving birth to her son Olavi, Lotta Henttala sprinted to a second place in her first race back in the peloton and in her first race for AG Insurance-Soudal Quick-Step. The return to racing in Valencia this February was a big success, but it naturally came with doubts after her pregancy.
“I had been out two years and didn’t know how I would feel. Would my form be enough to even have my place in the peloton again? I was thinking that maybe they would drop me or something. I felt reassured at training camp, but Valencia was the ultimate reassurance. I still have my place. It turned out pretty good and better than I expected,” she said with a smile.
“I wasn’t scared in the first sprints, but I also didn’t take excessive risks. I knew that if I wanted to do this and get results, I needed to be at the front. But to be honest, I didn’t take risks that I maybe would have taken before I had Olavi. In the last kilometre, when someone would push me around, I wouldn’t let that happen either. I would never be in the position to win if I didn’t go for it. It’s all about the balance.”
After a promising start to the Spring Classics season, Lotta got ill and had to watch the other classics from the sideline. This was not ideal, but it gave her a lot of time with her son. Now she is preparing for a second return to the peloton. For this Mother’s Day, we sat down to talk how Lotta, her pro cyclist husband Joonas and the Henttala–Lepistö family combines taking care of Olavi with a career in pro cycling.
“I think the most important is that Olavi is a really easy child,” said Lotta from her home in Girona where the two family pugs greet visitors with lots of enthusiasm. “The pregnancy went well but the birth wasn’t easy. It was an emergency c-section. The difference with other mums in the pro peloton is that by that time, in January 2022, pro cycling or a comeback were never on my mind.”
Lotta’s love from cycling came back naturally from the end of April. She started training again with a trainer in August when Olavi was just six months. She did it differently than other mums in the bunch and her tactics have clearly worked.