2016 Director Sportif Preview.
Those who love racing know the feeling. It is the night before an early season race; the preparation is complete. Endless kilometres on open roads in all kinds of weather. Emotional and physical sacrifices. Attention to the most minuscule details and consumption of time and energy on a macroscale. The feeling of a taper whilst on form, cleaning the bike after the final pre-race ride, making sure the cassette and chain are shimmering shiny. As a young lad, the last thing I did to calm the nerves and seal off the feeling of being organized the night before a race was to neatly fold the clothes I’d need for the day ahead at the foot of the bed. It's a beautiful process that many of us have gone through on a more than weekly basis for as many cycling seasons as we can remember.
Bring in the crisp dawning of a northern hemisphere spring and the enhanced anticipation of the racing in the weeks ahead. Pile on the years of going through the motions, though it never feels mundane like the saying implies. It feels alive, compelling, all consuming, and it swallows you whole and you are comfortable with that. It is the eve of race season.
It has been over twenty years since I first started getting excited about the springtime and racing. There's never been a season where it hasn't taken my whole life by the scruff of its neck and thrashed me through the months like a carbon rim over cobbles. But nowadays my pre-season is no longer about about riding pedal stroke over pedal stroke across kilometres in anticipation. It's springtime in NorCal, and that means spreadsheets, paperwork, emails, inventories of bikes, equipment, clothing orders, and the generous support of sponsors, friends, and passionate fans. Now there are quite a few cassettes and chains that need to be shimmering and shiny, an entire team’s worth.
When Lindsay Bayer first suggested the idea of starting a new UCI women's cycling team from scratch last year, I was thankful for her enthusiasm but laid out the many obstacles that all but a few people in the world overcome. Lindsay was undeterred. Like an unstoppable force, she quickly put together a small group to support the team and was willing to bankroll any deficiencies in funding we would encounter. After a few months, with the funds we had acquired and the infrastructure we had put in place, we were ready to run a top tier US squad. Supermint Racing was born.
Our national governing body, USA Cycling, was helpful with pointers as we negotiated the paperwork for submission. I travelled to Colorado Springs to make sure we properly crossed our Ts and dotted our Is. We filed the necessary forms and fees with the UCI to bring our team to life officially.
Then the most amazing sequence of events happened. Steve Berman, principal of leading class action lawsuit firm Hagens Berman and a prominent sponsor of cycling in North America, chose to sponsor our women's team. It was a perfect fit; an organization that spent the last two decades fighting injustices in business and society giving our well-structured but tiny squad the boost we needed to even up the footing against the more established teams. It was a game changer for our team. The aim is to make it a game changer for Hagens Berman and their partners too.
Across the globe, the road cycling season is launching into gear. In Australia the Tour Down Under and Cadels Road Race have been run and won. Ladies Tour of Qatar is in full swing. In the traditional cycling hub of Europe, athletes have laid their base miles and the big teams have concluded their camps, launched their riders and equipment and sponsors to the public, and are poised to race their first main events.
In NorCal, headquarters of the Hagens Berman | Supermint Pro Cycling Team, there is a palpable hubbub of energy. Paperwork has long since been completed. Bikes have arrived and been shipped to riders. Clothing and nutrition and equipment are being inventoried and readied for release. The USA Cycling National Road Calendar (NRC) begins in the first week of April, featuring the nation's greatest stage races and one-day events and criteriums. At the level of a first-year UCI team, entering the sport at the highest level globally but sitting outside the coveted top 20 in rankings that guarantees entry to the world's biggest races in the new Women’s World Tour (WWT), the NRC provides the team with prestigious goals that we can strive for. For HB Supermint, our NRC season begins the first week of April with the Redlands Cycling Classic. We will be lodging our bid for entry to the North American UCI and WWT races and putting on a show for our fans, sponsors, and supporters. Before that, our team camp is in Santa Paula, California from February 18-23. We will officially launch the Hagens Berman | Supermint Pro Cycling Team there and YOU'RE INVITED. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
I am so excited for the athletes we have signed to the program. They are a talented, dedicated group of riders and I am keen to go to work with them. Now it is THEIR turn to be on the verge of the cycling season. They are the ones who have done the hard work and the preparation and are making their sacrifices. They are the ones who have completed pedal stroke upon pedal stroke in all kinds of weather. They are the ones for whom once the season begins, there will be a consumption of time and energy and emotion on a macroscale.
If they are anything like a younger me, they are the ones laying out their kit at the foot of their bed on the night before the first race of the season, in restless anticipation. Ladies, let's do this.
- Jono Coulter