With the Amgen Tour of California wrapped for another year, both men’s and women’s Rally UHC Cycling squads take some time to reflect on the race, their performance and reasons to ride.
In 2018 they demonstrated that they belonged at the top level of professional bike racing, alongside the bigger WorldTour teams. In 2019, it was all about building on that and going one step further.
“The Tour of California this year was really, really hard, maybe one of the hardest editions we’ve ever done,” said performance director Jonas Carney of the men’s race. “There were some really long stages over 200km, tons and tons of mountains, and the peloton was stacked with WorldTour teams. Our guys performed really well all week. We had a little bad luck with Nigel crashing out and Brandon McNulty being sick, but the guys bounced back and while we were missing that big fancy result that we wanted – a stage win or a jersey – we were very competitive.”
No race is easy, nor is any bike ride a walk in the park. Cycling is – especially at the highest levels – a test of willpower like no other. Every long training ride, one-day classic or WorldTour stage race represents a war of endurance that pits the rider against themselves, mind versus body.
But there’s more to cycling than courageous masochism. Everyone has their own reason to ride.
Gavin Mannion kept it simple:
“My reason to ride is that it’s pretty much impossible to have a bad day on a bike. You can be feeling bad or be having a bad ride, but it’s probably still better than doing pretty much anything else.”
Even on the bad days there’s something to smile about. Cycling is a sport that builds strong bonds, not just with the road, with nature and the world around us, but also, and perhaps more importantly, with the people who share the ride. Blood, sweat and tears are shed on a bike race and these are the adhesives that bring people together.
Emma White thanks cycling for the friends she’s made along the way: “I think, I know it’s given me my best friends, my friends for life.”
Rob Britton told us:
“Meeting amazing people, seeing amazing places that in my entire life I wouldn’t have seen without the bike… My reason to ride is that cycling gives me everything.”
It doesn’t get much better than that. The riders, the staff, the world class partners that enable the team to perform on and off the bike – everyone involved in Rally UHC Cycling has a vested interest in the sport and they all take something special away.
Emma White summed it up: “We’re so lucky to be here and to be doing this. I’m always reminding myself when I’m stressed or nervous about something: this is a privilege.”