Hailing from Australia, charismatic Tiffany Cromwell of the Canyon//SRAM team is one of the best-known stars of professional women's cycling. With the strapline "Ride to advance, race to inspire, break away to challenge", Canyon//SRAM is a team that's looking to shake things up in the pro peloton.
Cromwell, 27, took over the BikeRadar Instagram account earlier this week for International Women's Day 2016. Along the way she gave us an insight into the life of a pro cyclist, from the food she eats to the training she does - and of course downtime with the team. Let's take a look…
So how does one of the most exciting riders of her generation fuel the engine? Cromwell starts her days with Bircher muesli, and will eat similar food on training and race days - it's the amount that varies depending on the training she is doing, she says.
One reader asked what tips Cromwell had for getting more women into cycling. "I think it's important to have good company," was her response. "Find other women who also want to get out on the bike and turn it into a social occasion. If you're afraid of being on the open road, start in a closed environment such as on the track, around a criterium circuit or park.
"Embrace the freedom and the places that a bike can take you. It's an amazing way to explore a city or place if you want to explore further than just the centre. Join a local club and take skills classes too to get more confidence on the bike. Most of all don't be intimidated and enjoy the ride!"
Getting kitted out
The Canyon//SRAM team kit with its distinctive 'hazard tape' design is produced by Rapha, who will be working with the team for three years. Rapha plans to develop and improve their pro kit based on feedback and testing with Canyon//SRAM, with retail versions of certain items becoming available over the coming year.
Here's Tiffany, getting ready for a cold morning training ride:
"I do have a training schedule that I follow from my coach but the structure changes all the time," said Cromwell when BikeRadar enquired about her training regime. "We don't have a set schedule that is the same every week. We structure it around the races, so at the moment with racing every weekend the training is more about the recovery between races, with only one or two days focused on specific efforts.
"Generally it is a day on (harder training) / day off (easy ride) approach. These efforts are usually adapted for the needs of the upcoming race. For example with Ronde van Drenthe coming up this weekend (12/13 March), this week is more about speed work as it's a flat and fast race, whereas next week it will be more climbing specific efforts heading into [Women's WorldTour race] Cittiglio.
"Then when I have a few weeks between races and we can do a training block, I work on a two or three days on / one day off basis, which will be a combination of longer endurance rides, shorter rides with more specific work and then recovery days. Again the training is all structured for the needs of the upcoming races or the areas I need to work on to be good in the races I'm targeting."
Of course, the weather doesn't always play ball…
Cromwell says that after a long training ride she'll ensure that she gets enough protein into her system to boost recovery.
"My eating doesn't change too much from race day to when I'm training. I'm eating for the workload that I need to do. Bigger training days I'll eat similar to a race day with a higher carb intake, but also enough protein so the body and muscles can recover. On lighter training days I generally won't eat quite as much as I'm not burning as much energy."
"When I'm not racing and at home, cooking for myself I do like to eat a lot fresher with a lot of fruits and vegetables in my diet along with whole foods as my body feels better for it."
Rest and recovery
Time out for recovery is an important part of training, says Cromwell, who posted a photo on the BikeRadar Instagram channel showing what it's like to get a massage from one of the Canyon//SRAM soigneurs:
"In our team we have nine riders, two mechanics, two soigneurs and two directors and one person in the 'office'. We also have some other people that help out from time to time but this is the full time team. It's a pretty small team but it works well."
Post-massage, there was time for a relaxing game of table football against the team mechanics:
The Canyon//SRAM team were staying in Italy, where they'd been racing the Strade Bianche, the first race of the brand new UCI Women's WorldTour. The local cuisine clearly influenced the food the team consumed, as well as being suitably carbohydrate- and protein-rich:
Cromwell tells BikeRadar that the exercises she does will change all the time as it's important to keep the body guessing. "Generally I will do a circuit with a number of different exercises targeting the legs and core, mostly, with a little bit of arm work. Planks, squats, lunges, crunches, oblique exercises, and then I utilise the TRX bands to make the workout more intense.
"There's so many different things you can do. I will also do a little bit of plyometric work which pretty much entails just jumping onto things, some skipping and that kind of thing."
So that was our Instagram takeover with Tiffany Cromwell – thanks for taking the time to do this, Tiffany, and good luck for the 2016 season! We'll be cheering for you.