Women’s cycling is now the strongest I’ve ever seen, says Canyon//SRAM boss

Ronny Lauke praises the UCI for the development of women’s racing

Ronny Lauke, the manager of the new of Canyon//SRAM women’s team, believes that the sport has never been stronger and is looking forward to racing at WorldTour level in 2016.

Lauke cut his teeth in the lower divisions of the men’s sport before shifting to the High Road women’s team in 2008. He helped one of the women’s most successful teams in recent years when High Road later became Velocio SRAM, before the team folded at the end of this year. Lauke has retained the core of the squad, bringing on board a set of sponsors including Canyon, Rapha and the still-present SRAM.

“I’ve worked in women’s cycling for the last eight years and I was blessed with the opportunities to work in teams that had a good structures but the sport now is the strongest that I’ve seen,” Lauke told Cyclingnews at the new squad’s launch at Rapha’s flagship store in London on Friday.

Lauke points to a number of areas where improvements have been made and although there is still huge room for further investment and improvement in cycling as a whole – not just on the women’s side – he acknowledges that the sport’s governing body, the UCI, has played a significant part.

“Now the UCI puts a lot of effort in,” he said, pointing to the start of a new women’s WorldTour.

“It’s also race organisers who see us as having an important place within the sport. They don’t just see us as an add-on to the men’s side. That’s led to teams being more professional and paying more attention to detail, whether it’s better equipment or more educated staff. That brings quality to the teams and the sport. We want to show that this is able to be a standalone sport. Women’s cycling has its own beauty and while it doesn’t have the history of the men’s sport, and it might not become a strong, it definitely has its place and its own values. We want to show that.”

Lauke’s shift from respected DS to team manager is an interesting one. He now has to oversee more projects and steer the entire ship, rather than focus just on tactics and winning races. It will help that in 2016 he has retained the core of the Velocio SRAM team and added a number of exciting additions, including the highly promising Hannah Barnes from the United Kingdom. Mixed with youth is the experience of Tiffany Cromwell, Trixi Worrack and Lisa Brennauer.

Lauke is well aware of any shortcomings in the team but he is keen to stress that they will focus their abilities.

“We have a really strong team with Tiffany Cromwell, Lisa Brennauer, Trixi Worrack, Mieke Kroger, Alexis Ryan, Barbara Guarischi, Elena Cecchini, Alena Amialiusik and Hannah Barnes. There’s real strength and depth in that team. We’ll be good at time trials and we’ll be good at Classics and stage races. We don’t have riders for the Giro but we want to focus on one or two fields first and then we’ll develop into other areas,” he explained.

“For me, and this has been core to the success I’ve had on other teams, it’s all about the strength of the team. It’s about standing up for each other and sacrificing each other’s chances for whoever the leader is on the day. That’s worked out so well and now all the riders understand the power of the team. I also want to create exciting bike races and I want to give young riders the chance to develop so they learn to take responsibility. I don’t want riders who only work on remote control. I want riders who can ride and race instinctively. I want true racers and personalities to come out in races.”

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