Words: Harry Dowdney | Photography: Graham Watson | Date:
“Milan–San Remo is a special race as it’s the beginning of the Classics season and you literally ride into the spring.” – Team Sky DS Servais Knaven on the Classicissima di Primavera
With January only just gone, Team Sky’s riders have already notched 4 victories and 13 podium placings on this year’s palmarès. Kitted out in Rapha Pro Team racewear, the team has won on three different continents in the last 36 hours alone. While they make it look easy, we explain the intense levels of preparation that go into starting the season in such sensational form.
The sun was shining and the Mediterranean stretched to the horizon as, suddenly, there they were: bullets of black and blue, spiralling up the switchbacks one by one, each rider a minute apart. It was the team’s fabled off-season mountain time trial, taking place before our very eyes. Rumour has it that Colombian climber Sergio Henao had set the fastest time during his final preparations for the Tour Down Under. He’s already shown that form on Stage 3 of the race up Corkscrew Hill.
It’s time once more where, as road riders, we prepare for the approaching season and set goals for the New Year. My goal in 2016 is 50 momentous rides, to celebrate my 50th year. Here at Rapha I encourage all employees to set riding targets, to have one or more things in the crosshairs to help better their riding and racing. Every New Year I also like to look ahead to what Rapha as a company has in its sights; the products we will launch, the events we will host and the places we will travel to. Back in 2008 it was easier, I thought, to compile such a list. I supposed this year it would be much tougher, but it wasn’t. We have some amazing things in store for 2016, from new Cycle Clubs to watching the Tour on Mt. Ventoux. Everyone is, of course, invited to join the ride. From all of us at Rapha, happy New Year and strong riding in 2016.
Team Sky’s Ian Boswell has just completed his first-ever Grand Tour, the Vuelta a España. The 24-year-old American rode to distinction in Spain, beyond the call of his team duties as ever, with a highlight third place on the so-called ‘hardest ever Grand Tour stage’ in Andorra.
In 2012 Rapha announced the beginning of a four-year Partnership with the world’s number-one professional racing team, Team Sky. Rapha has been a part of Team Sky’s countless achievements since then, including two Tour de France victories and success on all types of terrain and in all conditions. Together, we have redefined performance and style in the peloton, both on and off the bike. It’s been an amazing ride so far and the success of the Partnership has been beyond expectations.
On Sunday 26th July 2015, Team Sky rode victoriously onto the cobbles of the Champs-Élysées, having won one of the greatest and toughest Tour de France’s in the last decade. Finishing three weeks of incredible toil and sacrifice on Europe’s most prestigious boulevard, the riders rode in formation in a distinctive, yellow detailed kit change-out. Christopher Froome, his teammates, colleagues and friends, celebrated in style. But there was a lot of work done behind the scenes to get the kit and vehicles ready and waiting for riders and staff in Paris.
Want to know how non-climbers survive when the race hits the mountains? With 17 Grand Tours to his name, and as one of the most respected road captains in the peloton, Team Sky’s Bernie Eisel takes us behind the wheel of the ‘autobus’.
Preparing food for professional cyclists is no small task. Whether on tour competing or working hard at a training camp, riders’ bodies can demand as much as 8,000cal per day; and Henrik Orre, chef to Team Sky, has been ensuring the team get the sustenance they need to be at their peak since 2013.
Team Sky’s Ian Boswell cools down on the trainer after a Tour of California stage patiently. As if pedalling for five hours wasn’t enough. The 24-year-old from Bend, Oregon hasn’t been home to the United States since last year’s Tour of California and is now calling Nice, France, “home” in conversation. Rapha caught up with the American for a quick chat.
SAN JOSE, California — Most of the others had gone to sign in, but Pete Kennaugh stayed behind for a word with Team Sky’s Head of Performance Operations Rod Ellingworth, who leaned in and said something to the lean British champ no one could hear.
Elia Viviani’s sprint victory on stage 2 of the Giro was a masterclass in slipstreaming, executed while wearing a prototype Rapha speedsuit. The Italian jumped from wheel to wheel in the lead up to the sprint, showing perfect decision-making at speeds of up to 60km/h to stay near the front. Following Lotto NL-Jumbo’s Moreno Hofland up the final 500m drag, Viviani then made his burst for the line, winning by half a wheel.
Team Sky go into battle in Italy this month with Australian Richie Porte a contender for the pink jersey. Chris Froome’s most trusted lieutenant has turned general this year, leading Team Sky from the front to take several stage race wins since the start of the season. Rapha sat down with the Tasmanian, who was wearing Rapha’s newly launched Italian Country Jersey, to talk leadership, the sweet taste of victory and war stories from the road.
Lars Petter Nordhaug assumed the mantle of the ‘Grand Old Duke of York’ at the inaugural Tour de Yorkshire, marching his Team Sky men to the top of the hills, and then back down again onto victory. The Norwegian won the General Classification at the three-day race by eleven seconds over Europcar’s Thomas Voeckler and BMC Racing’s Samuel Sanchez, after a testing parcours took the peloton up and over the county’s endless hills.
With his last ever race in Team Sky colours looming, Sir Bradley Wiggins spoke to Rapha about the unique draw of Paris-Roubaix, as well as his past experiences at the race and how he has prepared for this year’s edition. Merci Roubaix, merci Wiggo.