Inside Bahrain Victorious' Classics house - Gallery
Playstation and table football, but also dishes and laundry as Haussler looks to create a special team spirit
Most professional bike riders spend more than 100 nights per year in hotel rooms, the shuffle between lobby, buffet, elevator becoming an act of muscle memory no matter the layout or location.
In Belgium, however, Bahrain Victorious are doing things a little differently.
“We have this big house, where we all just hang out,” Heinrich Haussler tells Cyclingnews. “It’s amazing."
Interest piqued, we sent photographer Chris Auld to check it out and capture some shots of the Bahrain Victorious riders in this more natural of habitats.
Nestled in Zwevegem, amid farmhouses and open fields east of Kortrijk, lies this futuristic rectangular box with its burnt orange facade, licks of black, and huge glass panels that let light pour through from one side to the other.
Inside: sleeping quarters for a squad of cobbled Classics riders, plus a few staff, along with a Playstation, table football, pool table, and more coffee machines than they could possibly need.
Note: this article was originally published in 2022. The team will once again be based at the house in 2023.
There is a greater good here beyond simply having access to the coolest toys. If these things are a distraction, then they are a welcome one from the monotony of hotel life. The riders can live a little more comfortably but also more interestingly.
Hotel common areas are sterile at the best of times but in COVID-19 times they’re literally anything but, which leads riders back into their own hotel rooms and back in on themselves. A shared house, however, is also more of a shared experience.
“Me and the team bosses had the idea of staying in the villa, being more together, creating that team atmosphere, and trying to build something special,” said Haussler.
“I had this in the past with one team, but a lot of our guys are super young. I say to them ‘guys, what we have now is not normal’. It’s hard to create a team. But it’s already coming up here, we’re in the airplane at the airport.
"It’s a good bunch of guys and at the moment it’s something special. I think it will be represented in the way we race.”
The riders almost have the run of the place, with chefs and a couple of support staff on site but the management and coaching staff staying elsewhere.
With that greater freedom comes greater responsibility.
“It’s about bringing us together but also learning, respecting things, saying please, saying thank you, taking stuff to the dishwasher, cleaning up after yourself, keeping the house tidy," Haussler said.
"These are just basic values - the great values that will also help us in later life."
"The guys bring their coffee, we fire-up the playstation, we have a big dinner, we sit together and talk, then we watch Netflix and stuff," Haussler added.
"It’s strange, because there are guys who came into the team who you didn’t have much contact with at the beginning, but you get to know their story - where they come from, their family, how they started cycling. You get to know the person properly, not just as a teammate.”
In an apt analogy, Haussler concludes: “It’s easy to build a house but not a home.”
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Deputy Editor. Patrick is an NCTJ-trained journalist who has seven years’ experience covering professional cycling. He has a modern languages degree from Durham University and has been able to put it to some use in what is a multi-lingual sport, with a particular focus on French and Spanish-speaking riders. After joining Cyclingnews as a staff writer on the back of work experience, Patrick became Features Editor in 2018 and oversaw significant growth in the site’s long-form and in-depth output. Since 2022 he has been Deputy Editor, taking more responsibility for the site’s content as a whole, while still writing and - despite a pandemic-induced hiatus - travelling to races around the world. Away from cycling, Patrick spends most of his time playing or watching other forms of sport - football, tennis, trail running, darts, to name a few, but he draws the line at rugby.
By Barry Ryan