All for one
Building a new team requires organisation, cooperation and a lot of drive
Cycling is the epitome of a team sport. It may not look that way to the casual observer – after all, only one rider crosses the finish line with their arms aloft; only one rider gets to stand on the top step of the podium and wear the leader’s jersey – but to get there, that rider needs the support of every other member of the team, even the ones who aren’t out racing on the road.
New to the British domestic race scene this year is Team Ford Ecoboost, a women’s squad headed by two-time national circuit race champion Nikki Juniper, who has had the task of forging a group of riders who have never worked together into a winning team.
‘Each rider has a specific role to play,’ says Nikki. ‘This depends on the riders’ form and the race course, but the team and riders have to be adaptable and be prepared for the unexpected. There will generally be a road captain for each race who will make calls on the road during the race.’
Nikki has brought together a team of eight fully supported riders and three development riders, providing a range of experience and specialisms. Some are all-rounders, some excel at climbing, while others will contest the sprints. Ultimately, however, it is the duty of all riders to work for the good of the team as a whole. And supporting the riders is another team of mainly volunteers who handle everything from planning, bike maintenance and race day organisation to handing out bottles from the side of the road.
‘Our team manager, Nick Yarworth, decides what the tactics will be, and he briefs the team before the race. For the support staff, race day starts very early so they can set up the team gazebo, prepare drinks bottles and get the camping stove on for the teas and coffees. Nick will check over all the bikes and ensure all tyres are pumped up to riders’ specific requirements.
‘During the race, our support staff are on hand to feed us from the side of the road in the feed zone, and our team car drives in the race convoy and provides mechanical assistance in case we have a puncture or problem with our bikes.’
In this case, the team car is a Ford Mondeo Vignale, which offers the sportiness and robustness required to contend with all the punishment doled out by a professional cycling team. Ford is more than just the car supplier, however, being the main sponsor and the catalyst for the team’s creation.
‘Without the support of Ford UK this team would never have got off the ground,’ says Nikki. ‘One of our main goals is to develop riders and be an aspiring team to help sustain the future of female cycle sport. Our partnership with Ford UK ensures we can concentrate on the job in hand, primarily building a team for the future.’ To find out more about Team Ford Ecoboost, go to facebook.com/ teamfordecoboost. For more information on cars in the Ford Ecoboost range, go to ford.co.uk/ecoboost