While the riders are putting in their final training before the biggest race in cyclo-cross, the 2013 UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships coming up in Louisville, Ky., the staff is also working hard making sure that everyone and everything is ready for the big day.
Jeff Rowe, Operations Manager at FOCUS Bicycles and Directeur Sportif of the Rapha-FOCUS cyclocross team has to juggle the schedule of athletes, mechanics and equipment, all converging to Louisville. The team will have four riders, Swiss champion Jasmin Achermann, Gabriella (Gabby) Day, Zach McDonald and Jeremy Powers, racing at the world championships.
The first step in getting the bikes ready was to get settled in Louisville as early as possible so that the riders will have more than the usual time to pre-ride the course and watch for changes to the terrain.
Achermann and Day flew in from Europe with their own bikes after racing at the last World Cup at Hoogerheide, while Powers came straight to Louisville after the USA Cycling Cyclo-cross National Championships.
“Zach McDonald’s mechanic travelled back from Hoogerheide with one of Zach’s European bikes and a full set (14 wheels) of wheels. Jeremy Powers did not travel to Hoogerheide, so his equipment is either at his mechanic’s house in Boulder, Colorado, or on the Team van, which went directly from Nationals to our house in Louisville.” Rowe said.
Then, the mechanics get busy. “Our technical partners, Easton, crankbrothers, and SRAM have all freshened equipment either for Nationals or for Worlds. The bikes will be almost entirely re-built. At this point in the season, each riders’ personal mechanic is very familiar with detailed set-up and personal preferences.”
Though the biggest race of the season is being held in the United States for the first time in the event's 63-year history, Rowe is trying to approach it as low-key as possible.
“For us, having raced all of the World Cups this season, it is important to look at Worlds as just another race (as much as possible). Having four riders, rather than our full seven, should allow us a little extra room and flexibility with staff.”
What could make the event more challenging is the fact that the riders race for their country and not trade team at the World Championships. Achermann will race for Switzerland and Day for Great Britain in the Elite Women's race and for the United States, McDonald will race in the men under-23 and Powers in the elite men's race.
Rowe takes it in stride. “As DS, I know all of the Federation people from World Cup racing. We meet at the Managers Meetings and Rider Confirmations and exchange what we need to. Quite often, when a director from another federation has not yet arrived, we will confirm their rider and collect whatever is needed.”
“Gabriella Day has worked entirely with our program this season, excepting a couple of races that she hired someone local for or had the support of family. The GB Federation is happy for us to look after her at Worlds, and she will have Mike Heenan as her principal mechanic.” Rowe explained. “Jasmin Achermann works mostly with her father, RAAM veteran Pius Achermann. We will take her to King’s CX in Cincy the weekend before to shake any travel off, and she will join the Swiss Federation at their team house mid-week.”
Race day therefore develops much like any World Cup event. “Perhaps a little more attention to logistics than a USGP, but we are much better prepared to do that at “home” in the US. The team is staying a little way away from the hubbub, so we can cook meals at home and sleep without distractions. The riders will come in as relaxed as possible, make their final pre-rides and tread and pressure decisions, watch the Ohio flowing serenely by for a while, and hit the LeMond trainers an hour before their race starts.”
Rowe concluded, “By plan, the riders will have all of the advantages afforded by their National Federation and all of those that are part of being on a trade team as well.”