Subway Pro Cycling Team Training Camp, April 6, 2005
As the first race weekend in the NRC calendar, McLane Pacific was the place for many domestic racers to fan their feathers, check out the competition, and get a feel for the season to come. Ella Lawrence caught up with the Subway team at their training camp in Merced before the racing began to find out more about this second-year pro team.
The Subway pro cycling team began with a regional sandwich shop in Tennessee. Assistant team director Kendra Wenzel coached a rider whose father owned a franchise, and their sponsorship allowed the team to form. With corporate sponsorship in 2005, the team made a leap and incorporated women into the mix. Wenzel says, "that's really how it started; a little bit of seed money for a team, which we spent very wisely. We got to a few races, and we've tried to build the 'biggest little team,' so that anyone looking at us would never know, or be able to guess the size of our budget, because we've been trying to do everything right."
Each rider on the Subway team has a personal investment in making their team succeed-almost all of the riders have brought their own sponsorship with them. Wenzel says that the team took a little flak for this, being called the "pay your way team," but the fact that racers brought in their own sponsorship allows them to see just how it feels to really be a representative of all the team's sponsors. "Almost every rider on the team has brought sponsorship to the team and therefore they all have an interest in representing 'their' sponsor as well as the whole team's sponsors," she says.
As far as target races for 2005, Wenzel says the team has highlighted the Pro Tour and the UCI events for both the men and the women. The budget will allow for the team to travel to all of the NRC races, and they will have full support at those races. Wenzel adds, "We're very lucky on our team in that some of our supporters also have different skills. For example, one of our sponsors is really good at stickering cars. So we actually had a SPONSOR here this weekend, stickering cars! It's a real team effort."
With riders from Seattle, Boise, Oregon, Indiana, Kentucky, Illinois, and Minneapolis, this truly national team spent a week getting to know each other and having fun at their training camp in Merced. Wenzel remembers, "We did everything together. As far as an overall team, we don't differentiate between the men and the women. No second-class citizens on our team! The women and men have equal support and they'll be doing the same amount of race days this year."
Who to watch out for this year? On the men's team, Subway's taken on a couple of really good, fast guys, she boasts. Joshua Carter has already had one win in 2005, and seven-time Canadian national track champion Ryan McKenzie is also riding for the team this year. Former elite national road champion, Remi McManus returns to the team this year, and sprinter David Richter will co-captain with Cameron Hughes, one to watch in the stage races.
The women's roster features 2004 American criterium series champion Melissa Sandborn, along with climber Sue Zweldon and developing stage racer Sima Traph. "We've got a number of riders, any one of which could really pop out a result any time," Wenzel elaborates. "We're so excited because we've got such good support and a good team. I know you hear it all the time "Oh, the team! We're doing it for the team!" but Renee (Wenzel, team manager) and I couldn't have asked for a better team. When you put together a team, you're always dealing with personalities and we got really lucky with the racers we have."
Co-captain David Richter was enthusiastic about the week in Merced as well. "Training camp has been great!" he said. "It's been more of a bonding camp than an actual training camp. We went out and played some paintball. That was pretty good. We got to know each other a LOT with that experience!"
Richter says that while people's training may have been thrown off a little while the team took a week to do social rides and get to know each other rather than do "serious" training, it's been worth it. As far as his personal goals for 2005, Richter continues, "We ended last year real well; I won a stage in Bermuda, and kind of carried that momentum through to this year. I hope to do well at Redlands, which is our next big race to target as a team. We'll also be focusing on the Sea Otter, the Pro Tour, and all the North American UCI races."
Crystal Yap, women's co-captain, added, "We're all really excited for this team. Subway is a great sponsor and they've really stepped up to support both the men's and women's team. Training camp was awesome! It's been really organised and we've had some really great bonding experiences. Our bruises from paintball are finally starting to disappear! The teams were mixed gender - usually sprinters against climbers."
Wenzel hearkened fondly back to the paintball evening as well. "You know how CSC goes and does their war games with the Navy Seals?" she asked. "Well, if you took their budget and scaled it down to our size, we play paintball! It was really fun. We divided up into different teams, tried different leaders, and then analysed it afterward - it was a really valuable experience."
This year, the Subway pro cycling team will be riding carbon-fibre Fujis, the same model that Judith Ardnt won the Worlds road race on in 2004. All team bikes are custom-painted in the Subway colors and easy to spot in the peloton.
Truvativ supply the bottom brackets, cranks, and chainrings, with Shimano drivetrains and shifters. The group's rounded off with Tektro brakes, Schwable tires, Speedplay pedals, and Selle Italia saddles. The men's bikes utilize plenty of FSA componentry, including stems, seatposts, headsets, handlebars and wheels. On the women's bikes there is a combination of Thomson seatposts and stems, FSA headsets, Ritchey handlebars, and they roll on Alex Rims wheelsets.