The second half of the Giro is all about the mountains. After the tough Stage 6, I caught up with Velocio-SRAM super domestiques, the American Tayler Wiles and South African-born Aussie Loren Rowney to talk about what their role has been in the race, Loren’s grupetto life, how it felt to have a team win under their belt, advice for first-time Giro riders, and much more.
How does it feel, at this point in the Giro?
Today was probably the hardest stage of the Giro with three long climbs and no where to hide! After 6 stages working hard for the team I’m tired but still feeling ok. As a domestique for the Giro I came into this race fresh but not flying so my form is coming as I ride into the race. Hoping to be going well for Thuringen 🙂
What’s been the best thing about the race this year? And the worst?
Best thing about the race this year has been the team we have, it’s such a great group of girls and we all give everything for each other everyday. The worst thing has been the cruel heat! It’s the hottest weather I’ve ever raced in, Stage 2 was so brutally hot and I had an allergic reaction to something and had a really difficult time breathing, that was a low point 😉
As a super-domestique… what’s your role in the team?
My role is different depending on the course, how GC is laid out, etc. For the first few stages, my job was to look after our GC riders, follow breaks that went or chase down dangerous breaks. If it came to a bunch sprint I was to help in the leadout. Also getting bottles for the team whenever possible. On the stages with more climbing my job is to stay with the GC riders as long as possible and do whatever work needs to be done depending on how the stage is going. My goal is to ultimately become a GC rider myself so I learn a lot from being a domestique in these races.
How did it feel for the team when Barbara Guarishi won her stage?
Winning Stage 1 with Barbara was incredible! It was a complete team effort for the entire stage and it ended in a perfect leadout and our very, very hard working sprinter finally getting to cross that line in first! It was an accumulation of hard work from everyone all season, each person trying to perfect their own role within the team, working on weaknesses and learning to trust each other. It was definitely one of the most exciting wins I’ve ever been a part of.
How will you approach the rest of the race?
Each stage is different and we still have a lot of cards to play for stage wins so we’ll just keep working hard and see what we can make happen.
For other USA riders, what’s the biggest difference between racing here and in the States?
I think the biggest difference is the pack size, that is usually the hardest thing for Americans to adjust to, large packs on small roads. Often Americans get a later start in the sport as well, so we don’t grow up pack riding like most of the Europeans. It’s a big adjustment and can take years to get used to. There are a lot of strong riders in the U.S. so I would never say the racing is easier effort wise, however it is much less stressful and less mentally taxing as positioning isn’t vital as it is in Europe.
And is there any advice you’d give USA riders who want to get to race in Europe, and the Giro one day?
My biggest advice is to go race Belgium kermess style races as an intro to European races. I know a few Americans who have done this and it has made a huge difference in their ability to position and move around the pack once they do the bigger races. It’s a much less stressful intro than just trying to jump into a 1.1 or even a 1.2 for that matter!
Is there anyone you want to give a shout out to, or to thank?
This season I’ve had a lot of ups and some pretty low downs so I’d like to thank my girlfriend Olivia for helping me get through some of the rough stuff, she never let me give up or doubt myself and the same goes for my family, they are always behind me pushing me forward, reminding me what life is all about and why it is I dream as big as I do.
How’s the Giro going?
It started way up high with Baby G’s win, and day after day, I’m slowly coming down… as the race continues up haha. I was so stoked to here when I crossed the finish line a zillion minutes down that Mayuko won! So, so happy for her. She’s such a quiet achiever.
When Barbara won, how did the team celebrate?
We went out for dinner with our sponsors! What better way to celebrate 😉
Can you tell us some secrets about what the race is REALLY like, especially grupetto life? What makes a good grupetto rider, and what makes you curse from riders?
I have a lot of friends in grupetto. We don’t really speak one another’s language, but we speak grupetto. It’s a similar group every day. My Italian mates are always there spraying me with water, joking about how much I love mountains. We look out for one another… of course there is the occasional dick head who attacks or rides unnecessarily fast on the climbs. They get put in their place fast.
And what’s life like off the bike? How do the peloton cope when there’s no wifi?
I read a lot and talk to my teammates and fellow peers. I try to catch up with the Aussies, my roomie Carlee, old teammates. It’s actually nice to not have wifi to be honest.
What’s been your favourite Giro moment been so far?
Of course the team’s stage win! However, seeing Carlee in the green jersey was really special. I see how hard she works and I so, so wish she hadn’t crashed. I reckon she would have won that stage!
And the one you’d most like to forget?
Ahhhhh I would probably say today. But actually, Stage 3, where I ran 4th. I stuffed up big time and I am still playing it over and over again. Serious regrets…
How are you feeling about the last three stages?
Survival. Bottles. Survival. Help team. Survive. Haha
What advice would you give first time Giro riders at this point in the race?
Right now, you’re probably hating life. It happens, it’s a long, tough, stage race. We just raced the hardest stage and now have a 4 hour transfer. Ummmm cheers Giro! It’s bike racing, it’s what we signed up for. But I’ll tell you this, even if you are last on the road like I was today, it sure as hell beats sitting in an office. Even though today sucked for me, for example, I know I’m still inspiring a whole bunch of people. So it’s worth it.
If one of your team mates can’t win, who would you like to take the GC?
f a teammate can’t win, and looking at how the race is panning out, I would absolutely love to see Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio win. I really respect Ashleigh as a person and a bike rider. And of course, she is South African!
Off the bike you’ve been writing some brilliant columns for Ella Cycling Tips. Do you enjoy that? Would you like to do more of that?
I love blogging, telling a story, and just getting involved with anything to do with promoting this amazing sport. We can all do our little part in helping the sport grow, and for me, I try to do that through social media and connecting with people who love cycling as much as I do. So yeah, for me I would love to do more! I have to do something to keep my brain working otherwise I fear it will turn to mush.
Is there anyone you’d like to give a shout out to, or thank?
My mum. When ever I am suffering, I look down at my tattoo and think of you.
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