Photography: Ian S. Walton
Team TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank is one of the most successful pro teams on the North America circuit and the longest running professional cycling team in North America. They’ve been expanding their calendar to be more global with a three week European campaign in 2017.
First up was Strade Bianche, quickly followed by the Ronde van Drenthe, Drentse Acht van Westerveld and the Trofeo Alfredo Binda before heading back Stateside. The year before their European stint was far longer, too long they felt. The balance is tricky. In North America, while not guaranteed wins, they are one of the big fishes in the pond. This side of the Atlantic, less so. The challenge is to mix the race programme between stretching themselves with garnering confidence, wins and podiums in North America.
This year’s shortened time in Europe allowed them to arrive a little earlier than the first race might dictate, or normally allow. A week before Strade Bianche, they were installed in a rustic country house in the hills of Tuscany, not only doing recons and testing the kit for the race, but also getting the riders ready for the tighter, narrow roads. Not only the higher intensity of the racing and higher level across the board, but also the windier roads and cramped villages make racing more claustrophobic – and that’s even before you chuck in the white roads. A week of getting used to what is different, makes that first crazy sprint for the first settore in the peloton a little more manageable. In theory.
Friday’s last pre-race ride was all about the spare bikes. During the week they had checked the race bikes – TIBCO-Sillicon Valley Bank have a fleet in Europe and a fleet in North America, a decision to avoid all the issues and stresses related to shipping masses of bikes to Europe and back – reconnoitred the route plenty and got their minds and bodies ready. They had got themselves in Euro mode. This day, the day before the race, would be a couple of hours roll around some white roads and other local strades checking the set-up of the spare bikes. And so they eased gently into race weekend mode. Their game faces were starting to come on.
Race day was pure focus. Steely eyes in the morning, made blue steel with the cold wet weather. Tough athletes ready to fight on white muddy roads.
If you liked this story consider purchasing Soigneur Cycling Journal 17 where it was first printed.