In late March, the Wiggle-Honda women’s team was launched. Now in its second year, the team wants to build on its highly successful debut in 2013, in which it won 22 races. It's a tall order, but team manager Rochelle Gilmore believes it's possible.
At the team's unveiling in a spectacular hilltop castle on the southern fringes of the Italian Dolomites, BikeRadar caught up with Jarrod Moroni, the team’s mechanic to get an insight on wrenching for a top women’s team, women-specific bikes and pumping Rochelle Gilmore's tyres to 11.
I spent a season with the Gerolsteiner pro men’s team when I was 22.
Ten years ago, that was a standard pro team outfit where we had four mechanics at most races and six mechanics at a grand tour. It’s safe to say women’s cycling is a lot smaller – budgets are miniscule compared to the blokes'. So we have one full-time mechanic – me – and we get another one in if we have a big race. We’ve all got to muck in and lend a hand as well. Compared, to the men’s team, where we focused on the bikes, here, I help out the swannie [soigneur] and directeur sportif. Working on a women’s team is a similar setup and similar lifestyle – it’s just on a smaller scale.
The women are paying a lot more attention to their kit than they did a few years back.
I’ve been working on the Australian domestic scene for the past four of five seasons and a while back, girls always wanted to have short socks and shorter knicks (cycling shorts). Whereas now, after watching the blokes and all that, they want to look more like the men’s peloton in terms of the kit they wear.
The riders on Wiggle-Honda demand the best kit
They know more about their bikes too and like to specify their personal choices. Some of the girls prefer 25mm tyres to 23mm for instance – they’re getting a lot more switched on about their products.
The bikes for our team – the Colnago C59s – are exactly the same as what the men would ride.
Some teams – in fact just one I think – use a women specific bike, but most of the teams on the women’s circuit just run standard frames which are obviously just a smaller size. When you get to this level, to the pointy end of the sport, you need to be as fast as possible, and all the technology and development goes into men’s bikes so it makes sense to ride the most up-to-date technology you can.
Our team manager and rider Rochelle Gilmore likes her tyres pumped up to the max.
Most of the girls ride 23mm tyres and I think a lot of that’s through Rochelle liking 23mm because she think it’s better for the girls because they’re lighter. Rochelle’s a special case though and 10 minutes before the start of the race we pump her tyres up to 160psi (11 bar). It’s a little bit 1999, but if it helps mentally, that’s what you need to do!
Gilmore likes her tubbies pumped to the max
Most of the girls use a unisex saddle.
We’re sponsored by Fi’zi:k and they’ve got that many saddles to choose from, the girls don’t have any reason to look anywhere else. I’d say 80 percent of the girls ride a unisex saddle and a couple of girls ride women-specific ones.
A few girls make a saddle choice based on looks – they want a good looking saddle, but most of them just use what you can get off the shelf.
Despite it being a women’s team, most of the support staff are still men.
Women would be just as good, and a few teams have female swannies, but if you look around at race, most of the staff are men. I haven’t seen a female mechanic yet, for instance. I think it’s down to a couple of things. The lifestyle for one – we spend a lot of time on the road going from place to place and I think some women might find that off-putting. The other is an experience thing – most of the staff learned their roles on men’s pro teams and women’s squads really want that experience.
BikeRadar was a guest of Wiggle-Honda and the team’s clothing sponsor, DHB, at the team launch in Italy