Bontrager/Livestrong Head Soigneur Reed McCalvin Gives Us The Scoop
(May 3, 2012) FORT BAYARD, NM - Day number two of the 2012 Tour of the Gila started much like the 2011 version for the riders on the Bontrager/Livestrong team. The young climber from Virginia, Joe Dombrowski was fitted into the Best Young Rider jersey as Axel made his rounds, making sure everybody was ready to race. The rest of the team went through their last minute motions before the start of the Inner Loop Stage, which would take them along a 127-kilometer course and three category 3 climbs.
The Inner Loop stage typically finishes as a bunch sprint, so the plan was for the team to stay safe and hold their positions. As the day unfolded, that is basically how it went, with a few insignificant breakaways, the pack all came back together at the last KOM with about 27 kilometers to go. The team all held their positions, even Nate Brown, who did take a fairly nasty fall coming into the finish as the pack rounded a corner littered with loose gravel.
During the day, we caught up with Reed McCalvin, the head Soignuer for the team since it’s inception, at a feed zone along the course. As he prepped bottles and gathered feedbags, Reed answered a few of my questions about the Bontrager/Livestrong squad and what it’s all about.
MF: After last years great results here, what are your hopes and expectations for the team this year at the Gila?
RM: Well last year we really wanted to do well and repeat our 2010 successes here at the Gila and get some form for the European races. This year the team is competing in The Tour of California, on of the biggest races in the world, so this year the Gila is a hugely important race for us. Not only do we want to honor our invitation to this race, and repeat or past successes, but also to get tuned up for the biggest race we are going to do all year. The Amgen Tour of California is potentially like changing for any one of these kids. One good day there could lead to a job on a Pro Tour team and just change their whole life. So the next few weeks in May are a very important time for us.
MF: That’s a lot of pressure on these young riders, how do you deal with that?
RM: Well we do try to manage the riders expectations. It’s great to get second on the Mogollon to a rider like Rory Sutherland, who dominated domestically for years, but when Rory goes to Europe things are a lot harder for him. So it’s great to celebrate a ride like Joe’s on stage 1, but at the ATOC we are going up against some of the biggest names in cycling, so we try and keep our expectations realistic. We always want to win. This year there is a U23 leaders jersey there so we’ll see what happens. Our main goal as a development team is to send guys to the Pro Tour and we have sent 9 riders in the past three years up to the big teams. So long term that is our motivation, to move guys up.
MF: So who’s next in line for the step up?
RM: We have three or four guys. Yasser Stroitman will probably make the step up somewhere, Ian Boswell who was second at Liege-Baston-Liege U23 a couple weeks ago is probably going up, Joe Dombrowski already has some offers, so we are probably going to lose three, but there’s the potential for a guy like Nate Brown who is super solid and always there, he’s the U23 time trial champion, to get in a break at ATOC and sneak away because nobody knows him. He could do like Ben King did in Greenville in 2010 and just get away. That could make it for him. So that’s the bottom line, I would love it if all twelve guys could move up every year, but the staggered ages on the team allow us to have a few riders moving up each year and a few younger riders coming in each year.
MF: It really seems like all the guys work well together and it really is a team effort.
RM: Honestly it’s one of the biggest problems with the team, there are so many guys willing to throw their hand up and work for the team. Someone like Ryan Eastman or Nathan Brown, they are so strong and so selfless that even though they may literally be the strongest rider in the race, they may not see themselves as leaders yet so they may just crush themselves for somebody else on the team. So yeah it’s always a team effort for us.