Hey guys, it’s been a while and I’m overdue a post, and what better way than to come back in style with a pro rider Q&A! On /r/peloton, we happily hosted Carlee Taylor to an AMA and she stayed to answer the communities many questions – some serious, some fun. For those who don’t frequent Reddit, here is a best of the AMA!
I was wondering how you feel about the way the women’s cycling handles events paralleling the men’s GTs right now, where there is the Giro Rosa, a fully fledged stage race which sort of matches the men’s version, but also the criteriums around Paris (although this year it’s a bit different up the Izoard) and Madrid at the Tour and Vuelta. Is it helpful to have the one day events for publicity or is a bit of a sham compared to the Giro Rosa? (/u/The_77)
I think we were all pretty disappointed that la course this year didn’t grow. They had said that the first few years it was just going to be a one day and then it was going to grow. And to have to still be a one day event but now a different course feels like it didn’t improve but just make a parallel change. having those one day events is great for sure, and its awesome to race in front of that type of crowd, but the aim should be to try and show case and grow women’s cycling and not just to have an event we don’t complain.
I was wondering what your best racing experience was, where was it and what was so great about it? Conversely, what was your worst race experience, where you started to question your sanity and commitment to racing? (/u/microfen)
I think one of my best racing experiences would have to be the prologue of last years Giro d’Italia and stage one. The Giro Rosa is our biggest tour of the year and my team mate, Leah Kirchmann won last years prologue. I had raced my prologue already and was standing on the side lines when she crossed the line with the fastest time. The atmosphere of the team was so awesome that night. It was a late night but we were all so excited to try to defend the pink jersey the next day that none of us really slept. and the next we races so well together. always as a unit.
The worst day I have probably had on my bike would of been Trophee Binda in 2013. It was my first spring classic of the year and it was the coldest I have ever been in my life. my body just shut down. and i was getting dropped with my heart rate only at 135bpm. as my blood wasn’t going to my legs. I’m still scared from that day.
Given you’re a climber, what do you think of the low number of races with big mountains in women’s calendar? – specially in Women’s World Tour where it’s almost limited to a couple of stages in Giro Rosa. (/u/edlll91)
Yea there definitely isn’t heaps of super hilly races and it is one of the reasons why I have had to change my training a bit to adapt to the women’s calendar. It is hard to be a pure climbing specialist when there isn’t heaps of days where you can show case your strength, and so being a hill climber that can ride the spring classics, or ride shorter climbs is more advantageous, and so that is what I am trying to achieve…Mortirolo (at the Giro Rosa) was probably one of the hardest climbs I have ever climbed. I had a 32 cassette and a 36 small chain ring, and I ran out of gears!
Is the lack of distance frustrating? (/u/The_77)
When it is around 140km it is a good distance. As it is long enough to be a proper road race, but not too long and so still aggressive. But yes, when a race is only 66km (referring to La Course this year being cut from 144km in the Men’s to 66kn in the Women’s) it is a bit frustrating. We can race longer than that. And a lot of the time we train with the men!
How is the general relationship between the men and women in pro cycling? Do you all know a good number of the men and have friendships? (/u/goldbot)
In Liv-Plantur / Giant-Alpecin, the relationship was amazing. I remember having just flown to Spain to go to our training camp after my National Championships in Australia. Arriving at the accommodation and getting a coffee and having Tom Dumoulin come up to me and say how it sucks how my nationals played out and it must be hard to compete against so many Orica-AIS riders. I stood there a bit shocked. Firstly, I couldn’t believe Tom Dumoulin had just come over to speak with me. But also, he knew how my race went. It’s just one example of how much like “family” the team were. When we are at the races we don’t get to see them as much. As we are generally the day before and our schedules mean that when you aren’t getting a massage or doing race recon, you normally are trying to relax and chill in your room.
With the highlighting of the ‘abuse of power’ in Women’s cycling from Bridie O’Donnell in this article and from a bunch of other female pro’s and semi-pro’s, do you think that there are problems with the management of Women’s cycling and the treatment of female pros? (/u/Sprocketduck)
It does make the move to Europe and the female pro peloton harder for those young girls, as it is a big change and hearing stories like this makes it even more scary. I have been lucky enough to not have experienced this. But have heard stories myself. It is an unfortunate thing that sounds like it happens in our sport, and I am sure a lot of times in women’s sport in general. And it is good that some are speaking up, as that’s the only way it is going to change. If we stick up for ourselves. And not just keep quiet because we want to get a contract for the next year or start that race we were aiming for.
With races all over Europe + Australia, I imagine there is a lot of traveling involved. As someone who very much prefers to sleep in the same bed as often as I can I am curious as to how you cope with being away so much. Did you get used to it quickly, or do you just have to be the kind of person that enjoys that semi-nomadic lifestyle? (/u/HowlingMoose)
I have had a lot of team mate who travel with their own pillow, eye mask and ear plugs to try to help with that. As long as I have two pillows, and the room is dark, I am generally okay. So yes, when we are racing in France and sleeping in schools, I find sleeping difficult. I think though when you are on tour and your in day 5 or 6, it almost doesn’t matter where you are, you are that tired, we even fall asleep in the car heading back to the accommodation!
Did you enjoy the first year of the WWT, and do you think it is the right direction for women’s cycling in general? (/u/goldbot)
I think having a women’s tour is a great idea, so that is isn’t always the same type of rider winning the biggest races all the time. Before our world tour, we had world cups, which were our biggest race, but were all one day races and the same type of rider would more than likely win. It has been good to acknowledge races like the giro, the women’s tour – races that are just as hard, if not harder than a spring classic, and have them give the same number of points. But I think nothing is going to be perfect the first year it starts. And other things need to be looked at, like implementing a minimum wage.
In the men’s peloton there are (or were) a few riders known as ‘patrons’, who would enforce the rules of the peloton, chastise poor group riding or etiquette and so on. Is it similar for the women’s peloton, and if so who are the riders that fit that name? (/u/The_77)
When I first went over to Europe, Ina-Yoko Teutenberg had that role. After she retired, there wasn’t really someone that took her place straight away. Giorgia Bronzini has taken over that role a bit, and Marianne Vos (although she is never in groupetto, more up the road) when these riders aren’t in the race it is normally the race leader or the race leaders team which have the say. ie. if we take pisso (toilet break) or not.
Have you noticed a change in the style of reporting on women’s cycling over your time as a rider and how do you think the it will change over the next few years? Currently the coverage of some women’s races seems to have quite a focus on the profile of women’s racing in general rather than talking about the races themselves in detail. (/u/Acarine)
I think having more commentators who know the riders well will help that. I know once I retire, that is the field I want to move into. As I want our races to commentated like how the men are, not for them to ask questions like “Should we be calling them females, woman, girls?” etc.
Could you describe the changes in your preparation, in order to become a rider more focused in hilly one-day-races (because of the lack of climbing in the WWT)? (/u/edlll91)
I have been doing a lot more shorter climbing efforts, all under 10 minutes. and a lot more high intensity efforts like 40/20 seconds. Threshold type efforts are my strength. 16-20 minutes but there just aren’t heaps of long climbs like that in our races. and the ability to recover from maximum short efforts is more advantageous.
Which region or country is your favorite to race in and why? (/u/Schele_Sjakie)
Italy for sure! Maybe also because that is where the longer climbs are and when I am racing in Italy it’s always good weather. But my favourite races are all in Italy so that also influences my decision.
A number of teams, a number of fashion choices. Best kit? Why? (/u/Sprocketduck)
I have to say the Ale Cipollini kit. Because how awesome does it look? Plus now my parents can spot me in the peloton and not come up to me after the race and say yea I saw you once. On lap 23.
What are the worst and best conditions you have experienced during races? (/u/Sappert)
Once we stayed at a camp site and my best friend had a bed with bed bugs in it. That was a tour in France. And when she told me that story I was just so relieved that I didn’t get that room! the best accommodation has to be the Ritz Carlton they normally have us stay at in the tour of Qatar. Clearly not my most favourable racing profile and conditions, but the accommodation and the fact they had dates at the door, made me always secretly hope I was racing Qatar!
Who inside and outside of your team do you hope wins the Omloop next weekend? (/u/GiantBicycle)
I obviously would like to see my team mate Chloe Hosking do well this coming weekend. But outside my team, see Leah Kirchmann up there on the podium.
If you could choose one race from the men’s calendar, WorldTour or otherwise, the full distance, and have it become a Women’s WorldTour race, which one would you bring over? (/u/goldbot)
Paris Roubaix. Its such an iconic race for the men. And I know one that is crazy hard, but those are the types of days you want to do, finish completely buckled and then later be like ”Hell yea I did f***en PARIS ROUBAIX!”
If you want to see the whole thread and all the questions, here’s a link. One of my favourite things about pro cycling is how the pro’s are all really personable and willing to do these events with the cycling fans. It was great being able to chat with Carlee Taylor and gain an insight you wouldn’t gain otherwise. For now, I’m out.
~The Cycling Raven