2018 In Review: Part I
By Lachie Ambrose
With 2018 almost done, we feel like we stuffed more into it than we jam into our bike bags to hit the one bag domestic baggage allowance limit. Starting in January, with the Fed Uni Road Nationals, flowing through the VRS, NRS and a packed local scene it just never seems to stop. For us, that was trips to Tasmania, Queensland, New South Wales, and so many trips to Victoria I don’t even want to contemplate the number of kilometres I put on our cars. With the year over – we thought we’d have a quick rundown on what happened, before leading into what we’re excited for in 2019.
Highlight One: Tour of Great South Coast Stage 4
Ok, there’s no surprise that this was the top of our list. Our first NRS win after spending three years chasing a podium was going to be enjoyable. For other teams (well mainly Bennelong-SwissWellness p/b Cervelo) it probably would have just gone down as just another win to add to the tally board. But for us it was special.
For us, it seemed to represent so much about what we do. Jason won not because he was the strongest rider in the bike race – but because he followed the plan and picked his moment to get into the break, and then used his head to outsmart his companions. As a team, we have always been focused on being smart about what we do and sticking to what we believe in.
The win also showed how much of a following the team had built up over the past three years – even other teams were genuinely happy for our little moment in the spotlight. It validated our belief that people will follow a team in a sport where we treat teams as a necessary evil.
Highlight Two: Investment
One of the major failings of cycling teams is that the riders act like a bunch of mercenaries – who come together at a race. This creates disharmony, curious loyalties and fails to get the best out of the group.
When I started the team – I wasn’t necessarily interested in having the fastest riders available. We were committed picking riders who wanted to part of something bigger, had ambition and were genuine in their approach. Without sounding like I’ve gone and stolen some 1920’s Soviet propaganda – what is good for the team is good for the rider. We felt that in 2018 the team we had was a consolidated unit – one that the riders wanted to be a part of. The level of teamwork on and off the bike this year gave me many “proud parent” moments.
Highlight Three: Butterfields-Blackchrome p/b VDR
So this wasn’t a highlight due to my affinity for long team names, and it’s not something that I will take much credit for (or any really). I’m just glad we could help in a little way. I’ve always been an advocate for self-driven change. If you don’t like something in the sport – don’t ask the question “why isn’t somebody fixing it”, but “how can I fix it” – and it’s a movement within women’s cycling that is kicking some serious goals. So, after helping fill a need in SA cycling for the men’s peloton, we’re excited that Maddie is stepping up to fill the need for the women’s peloton. So, chapeau Maddie – keep kicking goals.
Highlight Four: “Holistic Development”
Ok – so that’s not our catchphrase But we think we did that pretty well this year. All of our riders kicked goals off the bike tackling some pretty full-on full-time degrees (and getting grades that I would only have dreamt of when I was studying). Most were working consistently, and one thing that I’ve been particularly proud of is the way that the team has gone about giving back to the cycling community, a community that I feel that most bike racers take for granted.
I’m fortunate (well un-fortunate maybe) to have done pretty much every job in cycling. From volunteer corner-marshalling to my current day-job as CEO of Cycling South Australia, it’s safe to say I know what goes into putting on events and running a sport. The sport needs to get better – and the only way that can happen in an acceptable time frame is if everyone takes some of the responsibility, and helps. The way the team has stepped up this year has been really impressive – from running junior skills sessions to helping with events, this kind of action will change the sport for the better.
Highlight Five: Going Viral
Ok, so of all the pieces of content that we’ve produced we’d probably have preferred another piece to go viral, but Dave Randall catching Mike Cumming from Madison Genesis pull an amazing save after almost taking out half the peloton was certainly worthwhile (though hasn’t paid off the Go-Pro collection). This 10-second video has hundreds of thousands of views on Instagram and thousands of shares on Facebook.
Now – in itself, this doesn’t really add much value to the team. But it demonstrates that there is an appetite for cycling content outside of who won the race around France every year – now the challenge is to make this content consistently, and to make it better and better.
Now there were many more highlights – they’ve either been overlooked or for fear of writing something that even my family would get bored reading, we’ll leave it there. Check back tomorrow for Part II of our 2018 recap/2019 prelude.