To Make Riders Faster

Triathlon Magazine Canada - - DEPARTMENT - Anna Dopico

OTHER THAN CERVÉLO founders Phil White and Ger­aard Vroomen, there’s likely no one on the planet more equipped to tell the amaz­ing story of how two McGill stu­dents who met in the com­pos­ite ma­te­ri­als lab while both were work­ing on their masters de­grees than Anna Dopico. A col­lab­o­ra­tion to build a bike for Gianno Bugno to com­plete Vroomen’s de­gree saw the two hand build a one off car­bon fi­bre frame in the base­ment of Vroomen’s apart­ment build­ing. Dopico and White met in high school and would even­tu­ally get mar­ried – she watched her hus­band and Vroomen work tire­lessly over the years to cre­ate the com­pany that has be­come a main­stay in the triathlon and cy­cling in­dus­try, lead­ing the Kona bike count for over a decade.

To Make Riders Faster is an in­cred­i­bly in depth look at the long jour­ney White and Vroomen en­dured as they de­vel­oped the com­pany. Dopico was all too fa­mil­iar with the chal­lenges of the com­pany – their house be­came the com­pany head­quar­ters when they moved to Toronto. It was her in­abil­ity to get into her the house when she re­turned from a busi­ness trip a day early that prompted the move to an of­fice and ware­house.

“Hey, what are you do­ing home,” Phil called from the up­stairs hall­way. “I wasn’t ex­pect­ing you home. It’s ship­ping day. We al­ways ship on Thurs­days.”

To Make Riders Faster not only pro­vides in­ti­mate de­tails on the com­mit­ment to in­no­va­tion and engi­neer­ing-based de­vel­op­ment that White and Vroomen brought to the in­dus­try, but pro­vides great in­sight on the pas­sion the two had for de­vel­op­ing the world’s fastest bike. The book out­lines the early be­gin­nings of the com­pany – avid triathlon fans will re­mem­ber fondly the sto­ries of Melissa Spooner pro­vid­ing Cervélo with its first Iron­man win in Lan­zarote.

The book also of­fers some in­ter­est­ing in­sights on Cervélo’s part­ner­ship with Bjarn Riis and CSC, which launched the com­pany into the world of road cy­cling. That col­lab­o­ra­tion brought Cervélo to the at­ten­tion of the cy­cling world, but proved to be a huge chal­lenge for the com­pany.

Dopico also pro­vides lots of de­tail about the fi­nan­cial chal­lenges that saw the com­pany al­most fold in 2012, re­sult­ing in it be­ing sold to Euro­pean bike com­pany Pon. White would re­main as the com­pany’s CEO un­til July of 2017.

Dopico’s in­ti­mate re­count of the Cervélo story will pro­vide those who can re­mem­ber the first Cervélo P2 from the late ’90s and the in­no­va­tive P3 that re­shaped the triathlon world in the early 2000s with some fond mem­o­ries and in­sight into just how much White and Vroomen re­shaped the triathlon bike in­dus­try. For those newer to the sport, To Make Riders Faster will pro­vide some his­tor­i­cal per­spec­tive on how two men would take a small Cana­dian com­pany from a base­ment to one of the world’s cy­cling lead­ers.—KM

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