by Chris Worden
Prevailing wisdom says that in order to be successful in bike racing, a rider must have three main qualities: the legs, the heart and the support. Cyclocross is no exception to this theory. While many riders have the personal attributes to obtain success, when the conditions are at at their worst, another key ingredient becomes a rider’s support in the pits. With this in mind, Cyclocross Magazine had the opportunity to sit down at the USGP Mercer Cup with Cyclocrossworld.com Manager and Head Mechanic Stu Thorne, who has brilliantly engineered and supported the Cannondale /Cyclocrossworld.com team from the start, to discuss what it takes to run the best cyclocross team in the U.S.
Alright, so we’re here today talking to Stu Thorne, Manager and head mechanic of the Cyclocrossworld.com racing team. How’d yesterday go for you, Stu?
Well, it went pretty well, all things considered. We had a bit of a slow start with Jamey, as usual, haha. He redeemed himself quite nicely though, and Tim had a great start. But it was just a day where everybody had to suffer and, I mean, two guys on the podium, we really can’t ask for more.
You guys have a really great program; you’ve had it what, three, four years now?
Ah, well, with Cannondale behind us this would be our third year, but it is about our fifth year in the actual program.
Are you happy with the success that you guys have had this year?
Yeah, we’re really happy. The guys have really been riding their best and so far so good.
Nice. So tell me about the equipment a little bit. Everyone is pretty much aware you’re a Cannondale team, but how are the bikes, the equipment; I know you run Dugast tubulars and Zipp wheels so it looks like you have great stuff.
Cannondale has been really willing to help us out, they make great frames for us to ride. SRAM provided us with full Red groupsets… Zipp wheels have been great, the TRP brakes have been great. We actually have a couple of options there with the choice of brakes. Of course, the Dugast tires work awesome. Everything has really worked out phenomenally well.
Any super cool ‘trick’ secrets?
No not really, everything is pretty…
Tim Johnson: – SHHHHHHHHHHH
Hah, I think it’s ok, [Ryan] Trebon isn’t around…
Haha, no, everything is pretty much straightforward stuff. We get such nice equipment that we really don’t have to do anything special to let those guys do their job.
Out of your “three boys” who is the easiest one to work with? I won’t ask who is the most difficult.
(With Tim chuckling in the background) Um…the tallest one is the easiest, haha. No, Jamey [Driscoll] is really easy to work with. He’s also the newest on the team, he just joined last year. He also doesn’t have the years of experience that the other two have, nothing against them, but some of them have quirks that aren’t really a big deal at all, but still. Jamey just doesn’t have any of them.
I can understand that. Moving on, on these transitional periods, the nights between races, how much work do you have to put on the bikes, hourly?
As of yesterday, with the mud, it was a little more than usual, I mean we went through everything last night and then over it again this morning, so I mean we overhauled it all… we had to overhaul some hubs, a few new cables and make sure everything runs smoothly. It’s a lot of work on muddy weekends like this.
Now, Cyclocrossworld just opened a storefront too, right?
Well I’ve owned a store for a few years now and we’ve always owned a brick and mortar shop, we’ve had that for almost twenty years…
Is that a “cyclocross only” specific store?
No, it’s open to anyone. People can always come in and buy stuff, we have a place set aside at the back, a warehouse in the back. We have a regular bicycle shop in the front but all of the cross stuff is done in the back.
Cool. Just to get a quick idea numbers-wise, How many bikes are in your fleet, and how many wheelsets would you say the team has?
This year each rider has four bikes, and normally two are on the truck at all times and two are at home. So, if we’re racing a local race they have at least two bikes. And then, we have about thirty sets of Zipp tubulars with tires in as many different tire configurations as possible. We always have the right tires for any condition for two race bikes, and then the spares as well.
What does the tire selection look like today? What do you think they’re going to run?
Tough to tell. We’ll let them go out and do a little preview lap, but I think it’ll probably be a [Dugast] Rhino in the front and a [Dugast] Typhoon on the rear.
Alright, thanks a ton and good luck.
See also our coverage of the Mercer Cup USGP days one and two.