Tiffany Cromwell to launch gravel campaign at SBT GRVL

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Tiffany Cromwell has raced the road bike for more than half of her life, and this year she’s taken a little detour into the dirt.

On Sunday, the Canyon-SRAM rider will make her 2021 gravel debut at SBT GRVL in Colorado, ushering in a short racing season in the discipline, as well as a fresh take on her racing bike career.

“It’s a test year this year,” said Cromwell VeloNews. “We thought it would be great to have someone on the team representing the gravel and also great for me to renew my motivation. It might also help me get stronger, with the gravel it’s a lot of pedaling and power on the pedals.

For someone who has been running since his teenage years, it’s easy to see how Cromwell might suffer from a waning sense of motivation. At 33, the Australian is one of the veterans of the women’s peloton. She has been cycling competitively since she was identified by the South Australian Sports Institute’s Talent Identification Program at the age of 14. Then, she joined her first team based in Europe in 2010 with the Lotto Ladies team. Cromwell has participated 14 times in the Giro d’Italia Donne (formerly Giro Rosa) and has just returned from Tokyo after her first Olympic Games.

Suffice it to say: Cromwell knows his way around the pack.

Yet when she spoke with the director of Canyon-SRAM before the start of this year’s contract negotiation period, they both agreed that something had to change.

“Ronnie [Lauke] took the time to decide if he wanted to keep me on the team, ”Cromwell said. “He thought of other ideas. I had gone through a few ups and downs, I was not level. I needed something, a little excitement. I have always been enthusiastic about other disciplines.

The team has always supported cyclists who practice more than one type of cycling; For years, Pauline Ferrand Prévot raced on road, mountain bike and cross. The recent acquisition Chloé Dygert will continue her career on the track. Cromwell said when his gravel campaign was announced there was interest across the team.

“When the rest of my teammates found out I was doing it, it was like ‘Hey, I want to do this’,” she said.

While the WorldTour is always the priority for the Germany-based team, Cromwell said management understands the value of gravel, especially when it comes to the team’s main sponsors, Canyon, SRAM, Giro and Rapha. Depending on how his campaign unfolds, 2022 could see more Canyon-SRAM riders on earth. It’s a decision the Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank team embraced wholeheartedly this year with US National Champion Lauren Stephens and her teammates lining up and winning gravel races across the United States when the European season on. route allows it.

Cromwell’s gravel schedule was supposed to start with June’s Unbound, but when she was unexpectedly selected to compete in the Olympics, she had to cancel those plans due to the complications of travel during the COVID pandemic. However, his end-of-season schedule is busy. After SBT GRVL, she goes to North Carolina for the Belgian Waffle Ride. Then, she returned to Europe to prepare for the world championships and Paris-Roubaix. In October, she will compete in the Marrakech GravelEpic before returning to the United States for Barry Roubaix and Big Sugar.

So what does Cromwell look forward to with his new lease on cycling?

“I want to go and be competitive,” she said. “It’s not just about having a good time. Of course, that’s part of it, but it’s also trying to win. It’s also exciting for me because in my road career these days I’m a servant. With the gravel, this is my opportunity to get back on the podium and win again. So I can also use it as a major road preparation.

Cromwell has no illusions that she will jump in the deep end and immediately learn to swim. Its longest run to date is 230 km, a distance not so extraordinary in the gravel world. During SBT GRVL 2019 – her first and only gravel race to date – Cromwell said she felt a world apart from her road racing roots.

“In terms of refueling, I had no plan,” she said. “It was a learning curve. Even with handlebar bags and the like, how do you get enough water? Even with the assistance stations, how long do you have to stop there? I have a lot to learn. And, I have heard that other races are quite tough and more knotty.

Cromwell is also intrigued by the tactical elements of racing gravel.

“You have the ability if you can to hold the wheels of the men and then you can go quite far,” she said. “It’s different kinds of tactics instead of waiting and taking a step. It’s about endurance and a strong header against quick attacks.

Like other road cyclists who have moved or are bouncing between gravel and tarmac, Cromwell was also struck by the strong sense of inclusion and camaraderie she witnessed at gravel events. In fact, his biggest takeaway from SBT GRVL two years ago was how the pros at the pointy end and those who just yearned to finish the race all traded stories at the end of the event.

“I like this tie,” she said. “You all start together. Same distances, same prize money, all those things that lead from that point of view that I find really cool. With the road, we have always had to insist and talk about these things. As this is a new discipline, they were able to start from a clean slate.

After nearly 20 years of racing, gravel could also be Cromwell’s clean slate.

About Jeffrey Wurtsbach

Jeffrey Wurtsbach

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