Canyon//SRAM Pro Team on New Rapha Kit, Canyon Bikes, Saddles and Team Bonding - Total Women's Cycling

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Canyon//SRAM Pro Team on New Rapha Kit, Canyon Bikes, Saddles and Team Bonding

We spent a couple of days with this new UCI team as they tested out their brand new gear...

The new UCI team on the scene, Canyon//SRAM Racing, is set to shake up women’s cycling and the feeling at their pre-season training camp was a potent mixture of anticipation, determination, and friendship. 

Announcing their goals as a team, their collective message is this: “A new era for women’s cycling has begun… Together, we will advance women’s professional cycling, inspire to ride, and challenge convention. Be part of our story. Take The Lead.”

We joined the team for a couple of days at their ten day training camp in Mallorca – where their brand new, totally stunning kit and bikes were unveiled.

This shiny new squad consists of many members from the recently disbanded VelocioSRAM squad.

The full roster includes 2014 World Road Race and Time Trial Champion, Lisa Brennauer, 2015 Tour of California winner Trixi Worrack, Austrian Tiff Cromwell,  RideLondon GrandPrix winner Barbara Guarischi, German National Time Trial Champion Mieke Kröger, multiple Belarusian Road and Time Trial champion Alena Amialiusik (BLR) plus new additions in Britain’s Hannah Barnes, and her team mate Alexis Ryan plus Italian Elena Cecchini.

Check out this short video we made with the team: 

Though most of the members have been riding together for years, it’s not often they get to join together as one so the camp was a special occasion.

“The training camp is definitely about team dynamics over mileage – especially at this time of year. You can see already the strengths of riders on and off the bike. We create a support network. It’s not often we’re all together – perhaps if we have a camp or a team time trial, but it’s only maybe three times a year”. –  Trixi Worrack

Five of the six VelocioSRAM riders who joined forces to win the 2015 World Team Time Trial (TTT) Championship are reunited in Canyon//SRAM and many also raced with the team under its former name Specialized Lululemon – winning the 2012, 2013 and 2014 TTT.

Needless to say, the 2016 UCI TTT is a much anticipated race for this squad – and they believe that their prowess as a group helps them elsewhere, too.

“Without a team you can win nothing. With the TTT – it’s about the team’s soul. You all understand how each other work. We believe that the TTT makes us a better team when road racing and the other way around. We believe that we work well as a team – who we are off the bike helps us too.” – Barbara Guarischi

The good news for the every day female cyclist is that this team is being supported by brands who appear to have a real and genuine interest in improving the offering for women.

Canyon have supplied the riders with top of the range Ultimate CF SLX road bikes and Speedmax time trial bikes. Currently, the geometry remains the same as unisex versions, but Canyon plan to use genuine rider feedback to develop the women’s specific range over 2016 and 2017.

We’re interested to see what sort of alterations would be made – and so are the team…

“The biggest thing I think is narrower handlebars. When it comes to handling, women are going to need that narrow cockpit. That’s one thing I’d say bike brands need to focus on, rather than putting women on a bike with 40 or 42 cm handlebars and then wondering why they can’t handle their bike. And smaller frame sizes too.” – Tiff Cromwell

All riders have been fitted to their bikes, using measurements from their previous machines and expert advice. It’s not always easy to get it right, but the brands are eager to make sure the fit is perfect.

“We struggle sometimes with the reach – and the length of the top tube. We all have to fit on this one frame and if you have the tallest and smallest rider of the team it’s quite hard to find the right position, optimal fit, for both of them. You have to take a bit of compromise sometimes… I think with the partners we have we can easily make it work. We are very happy to help them create their women’s line too. I think in the future it will be a big advantage.” – Lisa Brennauer

As well as testing and helping to inform Canyon’s women’s bikes, the team are also in partnership with Ergon saddles. Currently, each rider uses her own chosen saddle – but Ergon will be creating saddles via rider feedback and pressure mapping, asking the team to test them on training rides to help them develop the best women’s road saddle they can.

Is there such a thing as the perfect saddle? The riders aren’t sure – but they’re certainly willing to help in the search for the ideal…

“For me, if someone could create the perfect TT saddle their genius’ cos I’ve never been able to find a comfy TT saddle – I just deal with the pain.” – Tiff Cromwell

On camp, it’s manger Beth Duryea and Directer Sportif Ronny Lauke who ensure routines are kept tidy and that every rider receives the attention required.

Each evening, Duryea circulates a timetable containing a column for every rider, staff member, as well as joining members of the press (of which there were many). The training portion of the day is usually around four or five hours, with other appointments including bike fitting, saddle mapping, interviews, massages and DS meetings. The atmosphere is friendly and everyone gets a meeting with Duryea and Lauke.

“I think that’s a special part of this team – communication is important and we can all chat to Beth and Ronny about how things are going. I once rode for a team and was given a bike that was far too big, but I was too shy to say anything – so I was just uncomfortable… that’s no good.” -Mieke Kröger

Days at the Mallorca base often began with morning core training sessions – and with many riders still with the team from it’s Specialized-Lululemon days, they’ve got some pretty nifty skills!

Beach planking (and mid-ride superman showing off!) isn’t enough for everyone, and some go to the gym during the day too.

“The gym doesn’t have a lot, but it’s all we need – we usually use some machines, like the leg press, and then do squats… mostly focusing on the core, that’s the most important thing.” – Elena Cecchini

Once rides get underway, they’re generally accompanied by one or two support cars, with food, drinks, clothing supplies – and sometimes a journalist hanging our the boot with a camera. But what wouldn’t they go without?

“Money. And maybe a map. Or you plan your tour the evening before, and if you don’t know the area so well it’s sometimes good to have a map or a phone. And a pump.” – Lisa Brennauer

“A good waterproof. You never know what conditions will be, for example you go up a big climb, it’s colder at the top than the bottom – you should always wear something warm. Just because you start at the bottom of the beach and it’s sunny, don’t expect it to be as warm at the top of the climb.” – Tiff Cromwell

There’s plenty of time to share ride snaps on social media at coffee stops -though how frequent stops should be is a hot topic of debate among the multinational team…

“Social media creates personalities. It’s a platform for riders to really showcase what they want – for people to get to know you.” – Tiff Cromwell

After rides, food is ready and waiting for the girls as well as protein shakes if they want them. After a 90 minute recovery day ride, only a few choose to do so. With such a multinational team, preferences vary a lot.

“There is no one set ‘perfect diet’ for a cyclist – different things work for different people. Some eat a lot of protein – meat and eggs, like myself, others feel better with lots of carbohydrates. You have to experiment. On the bike, most of us eat food from the breakfast buffet, not energy bars and gels – those are for racing.” – Trixi Worrack

The team will be targeting the UCI Women’s World Tour – and you’re likely to see many of them at the Women’s Tour in the UK this coming summer. Since Brennauer won the overall at the 2015 edition, she’s looking forward to it and believes the race says good things about the progression of the sport:

“When I got on the podium to celebrate the victory there was a huge crowd of people cheering and the noise of it gave me goose bumps – I think that there is something happening in women’s cycling – in a good way – and the crowds were an example of that. Eventually it will be more and more women that can be more professional and make a living from it, and not have to do a 35 hour normal job and then end up in the same races [as full time pros].” – Lisa Brennauer

Of course, we think the kit – all carrying the same pattern and based upon Rapha’s high end Souplesse range – is stunning. What do they make of it?

“[What I love most about the kit is] the brightness. Also the way the colours fade and almost look like you are already going fast when you’re standing still.” – Hannah Barnes

 

“It makes me feel fast and confident. It’s a really cool looking kit and I love the pop of colour. I think when you put this kit on you’re ready for business, all the pieces fit really well, it’s aero, fits in all the right places and the fabrics are soft on your body.” – Tiff Cromwell

We had an amazing time with the team – and can’t wait to see them racing their super speedy ways through 2016.

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