An interview with Ina Yoko Teutenberg, January 29, 2007
At 32, she is the second-oldest rider on the T-Mobile squad, but is also likely to be one of the most successful this year. Cyclingnews' Shane Stokes talked to World Cup runner-up Ina Yoko Teutenberg at the team's training camp in Mallorca and got the low-down on her big plans for the season.
With only three riders remaining from the 2006 squad the T-Mobile women's team will have a very different look this year. However, it is likely that Ina Yoko Teutenberg will once again be one of the mainstays of the squad, given the strength of her campaign last season.
The German had a long list of impressive results in 2006, including World Cup wins in Geelong and Rotterdam, second overall in that series and victories in several other events. These include stage wins in the Geelong Tour, Giro della Toscana, Drenthe Tour and Krasna Lipa, plus two each in the Tour of Wellington, the Holland Ladies Tour and the Tour de l`Aude. Her strong haul also included a race win and overall victory at the Commercebank Triple Crown.
The 32 year-old is likely to play a dual role in 2007. Firstly, she is there to chase more wins and high placings for the magenta team. In addition to that, her considerable experience means that she will doubtlessly act in a mentor role for some of the new riders, in particular the younger signings.
"If a stage or a race is not for her, she is the first to get on the front and ride for the team" - Team manager Anna Wilson believes Teutenberg is just the leader the outfit needs
Teutenberg's leadership abilities were evident at the recent T-Mobile camp in Mallorca. She had a large input into the routes taken during the training rides and her calm, confident manner also helped the new riders relax.
"Ina is great at engaging with people, she just really enjoys what she does," team manager Anna Wilson told Cyclingnews. "She has developed into a leader on and off the bike. The riders do look to her for guidance that's automatic, given that she won 14 races last year.
"It is good that she is so relaxed, she just goes about the business and gets her training done. She is also always the first to learn new things - for example, there are guys over from the US teaching the men and women's teams about core fitness and special recovery techniques, and Ina is soaking that up. That in turn helps the other riders to take it on."
Wilson says that another attribute of her character helps to form strong bonds. "There are a lot of riders who can sprint on the team but I think she is our number one. She picks up quite a few results. That said, she is really good at working, too - if a stage or a race is not for her, she is the first to get on the front and ride for the team. Ina is also really good at talking to everyone on the bike in the bunch, comfortable moving around and keeping everyone together."
Several of the riders left the camp early on the morning of January 18, but Teutenberg was due to stay on a little longer before leaving. At lunch that day she chatted to Cyclingnews, saying that she was happy with how the training camp went. "It was a bit busy at the start but it was good," she stated, in flawless English.
"It was fun. In ways it was similar to last year, but for me it wasn't as stressful this time round. I think the atmosphere amongst the girls is better this year, so it has been more enjoyable. That's probably due to the new faces, and the fact that the girls are very motivated.
"The training went quite well - we tried to fit in as much as possible so that was okay. Some of the girls got sick so they couldn't ride that much, but overall it was fine."
This season there have been quite a few changes to the team. Apart from the influx of eight new riders - only Teutenberg, Judith Arndt and Kim Anderson remain from last year's lineup - the management has also changed. Bob Stapleton has been promoted to running the men's team, and has also been a large part of the drive to introduce a strong anti-doping programme across the board.
This season will see an all-woman management team take over the running of the squad. Former hour record holder and double World Cup winner Wilson will be the directeur sportif, while another past World Cup winner, Petra Rossner, will act as team coach. They will be joined by former pro, and Cyclingnews staffer, Kristy Scrymgeour, who will be the general manager.
Teutenberg appears happy with the new direction. "I think there are big changes from last year," she acknowledges, "but I think it is all going in the right way. It will show in the results and the structure of this year."
Several young riders have been signed, showing that T-Mobile is planning for the future. But does she think that this will affect the short-term results? "No, I don't think so," she answers. "For example, Suzanne [de Goede] and Lynda [Villumsen] are only 21 or 22, but they are really experienced because they have been on the circuit for so long. I don't think their age matters because they have both been racing in Europe and know what the deal is. I think we are going to be finding each other really quickly and we are going to have results straight away."
Programme and targets:
Teutenberg was due to fly back home to Germany on Saturday, January 20, but said that it was going to be a very brief stopover. "I will leave for Australia on Sunday and after I arrive there, I will be getting ready for Geelong. Hopefully I will have a good start to the season again."
She and the other ten women on the T-Mobile team were doing long endurance rides rather than intensity work in Mallorca. There, Rossner wanted them to keep their cadence high but heart-rates down. She says that this will continue to be the case in the immediate future.
"I will keep taking things easy for now and then closer to the [Geelong] race I will go on probably one bunch ride a week. That is really intense...it is pretty much a bike race. Apart from that, I will still do lots of endurance work. The Geelong Tour gives you three good days to build some race fitness for the World Cups. That worked out really well last year so hopefully it will be the same again."
In terms of targets, she has a clear mind about what she wants to aim for. "The World Cups are the main goal, I can do well there. I am probably going to be fit early in the season and I will try to hold form until the Giro, then take little bit of a break before doing the second part of the season. I would like to win Philadelphia once more.
"Winning the two World Cups were the highlight of last year," she continues. "I had a really good start to the season and then I finished off strong. We have way more options this year, so I hope we can win two or three World Cups again and have lots of stage wins in big Tours. That would be great."
Teutenberg has been competing as a pro for several seasons. She says that she has always enjoyed the bike. "I originally got into the sport because my brothers used to ride; as a little sister, you always want to do what they do. It went on from there.
"In terms of what I like about the sport, I guess it is easier than going to the office! It is something that I love to do. You are outdoors, as well, and that is important. Once a while it is hard, because you are travelling with people 24-7 for weeks at a time, but equally it is got to be difficult going into an office every day, too. We see beautiful places and we meet a lot of people all over the world. So I think it's a pretty nice lifestyle."
When asked, she describes herself as someone who can sprint but who also likes to be in breakaways. She's not afraid to get stuck in there, and clearly has a lot of competitive fire left in her veins. But what will she do when she finally hangs up her wheels? Is going into management something that appeals to her?
"I haven't really thought much about it," she answers. "For sure, I want to be a bit more settled when I am done so I will see then what I have to do. I think I will continue for two or three more years. Then we will see."