Date 17.04.2020 Words - Tom Petty Photography - Rod Pedals
Welcome to the Santini Tribe, Team BridgeLane.
We enter a new decade, and an exciting custom partnership with Oceania’s #1 Continental Cycling Team, Team BridgeLane. We had a chat with the team’s General Manager, Tom Petty to talk all things Team BridgeLane.
Santini: How are you Tom, you must of had a very busy Summer?
Tom: The summer of cycling here in Australia seems like such a long time ago! It’s actually nice to stop and look back now at how busy our summer was. This will sound like a plug, but I’m pretty happy to say our Summer began with me opening up some big boxes filled with Santini kit. Those in the industry will know that the first race every season is the race to have kit ready in time for January so it was fantastic to have that early win! I’d tested some Santini kit at the end of last year, and was personally really exciting to distribute it to our riders, I was so impressed with the quality of the bibs in particular, and I knew the riders were going to love it.
We started January with a win at the Bay Crits, a great warm-up race ahead of the main event - Cycling Australia Road Nationals. Debuting the new kit on such a big stage against some of the best is always a special energy. We didn’t get the results we wanted at road nationals, but started to make progress with two stage wins (Jensen Plowright & Rylee Field) and the overall win at the New Zealand Cycle Classic, a very hard (and wet) tour based in the Wairarapa.
We then traded one Santini kit for another, swapping our Team BridgeLane garments for the Uni SA - Australia National Team kit. The Tour Down Under is always a reminder of the amazing cycling community here in Australia and a chance for our riders to compete against the World Tour riders. We didn’t have much let up, racing weekly into February with the Jayco Herald Sun Tour, where Ben Hill won the Sprint Classification and then Le Tour de Langkawi with Rylee Field again proving how strong he is and Tristan Ward placing well in the sprint stages. Our summer wrapped up at the Tour of Taiwan where we had a achieved another stage win and the overall (Nick White).
SANTINI: Can you tell us a little more about who is Team BridgeLane?
TOM: Team BridgeLane is a team that has been around for 20 years, we’ve had many names over the years, but the team was founded by Steve Price and Andrew Christie-Johnston. Andrew is still involved daily, coaching many riders and coordinating many opportunities for the riders, his drive and knowledge is a large part of the success of the team - but we are proud of the people we have at our team, a lot of the staff go above and beyond. The reality of stretching every dollar to provide the riders with the best racing calendar possible means we are all often placed in difficult situations, both staff and riders. But I’m proud about how we come together and make the most of the opportunities and produce fantastic results.
Ultimately, the aim of the project is to provide a pathway and race calendar for Australia and New Zealand's best riders to prove themselves. I think we have collectively produced over 20 World Tour athletes now, including another 2 graduates from 2019. It’s really important to us, the staff here have put a life time of work into creating this pathway, and it’s something I’m working really hard on to ensure it exists for as long as possible.
SANTINI: Let’s talk NRS, what are some of the goals moving forward into 2020?
TOM: The National Road Series is where many riders prove themselves, the series has been very competitive with many teams having a lot of strong riders. I’d have to check, but I think we made it 9 consecutive overall series wins last year so we’ll be aiming for a 10th this season! To me, domestic racing is very important, and I want to continue to see it grow here, hopefully we can get back to racing soon.
SANTINI: What sets Team Bridgelane apart from other teams?
TOM: I think we have three areas of relative strength. The first is the people involved, we’ve had staff that have been around for a very long time, the experience and skills of those staff members are invaluable. It’s the staff that have cultivated the riders we’ve had over the years, which has led to us being as successful as we have been in developing top riders. The second is our race program – we’ve thought very carefully about the races we do. We target a sweet spot which takes into consideration our budget, the opportunity for rider development and the opportunity to win and show case talent to the World Tour teams. Our guys race UCI races in Oceania, Asia, Europe and the US that are respected by World Tour teams.
The staff and race program, coupled with a track record of success, results in a third strength which is out ability attract the best young riders and so our production line of talent is constantly being refreshed. Beyond the program itself, of course, nothing happens without the sponsors that fund and provide equipment. Right now, every part we are using is the best you can get, and this helps our riders to perform better. If you have to go out and train every day, and you have a chamois that isn’t that comfortable or winter garments that aren’t well made, it definitely makes your job harder, so the attention to detail in what we do is important.
SANTINI: We can only imagine how challenging it is running a team, what is involved?
TOM: Running a team for me consists mainly of balancing a lot of areas, and I do find it very challenging which has largely also been the appeal. What I like about it is that you can’t really fake it. To be a great rider, you have to turn up every day and put in the work, that’s what it takes. Running a team is the same, if you don’t practice and work at being better every day, at the end of the day, you won’t win, or you might, but that’s definitely not where I feel satisfaction. Actually as a DS, when a rider wins a tour, the gratification is very delayed for me, there’s a lot of stress at the time, and the victories we’ve had, I only really start to appreciate them a month or so later.
The stuff many people don’t see is the huge logistical challenge, distributing all the equipment for international races and the constant battle with excess baggage allowances. We often travel with 10 bikes, 13 sets of race wheels, spare parts, work stands, tools, 12kgs of nutrition, massage tables, 150 water bottles and Eskys. Travelling with one bike you often get some funny looks at the airport, but when you have this much luggage, trying to navigate airport terminals is a workout in itself.
SANTINI: At this level of racing, how much training is required?
TOM: It depends, but the range would be 12 to 25hrs per week of ride time, and then supplementary gym and other conditioning work.
SANTINI: The NRS Series is an important step for riders on their way to becoming full-fledged professional riders, what advice would you give to those riders who want to be selected for an NRS team?
TOM: If you want to ride for a team the most important thing is to work yourself through the levels, whether that’s performing well at club level, then getting to state races and going through the grades and then a handful of NRS races. To compete, you need to start proving yourself at the level you want to be at. When selecting our riders we want the best from the NRS, so unless the person has been competing well in that series, it’s hard to qualify the power data or other information we have.
SANTINI: How is the team enjoying the latest custom kit?
TOM: It’s definitely been well received, the thing that has been appreciated the most has been the quality of the garments, it was a big part of the decision making process for us. Santini produces kit for some of the biggest teams in the world and is also the oldest or one of the oldest manufacturers. We want clothing that is top of the line and proven to be fast, especially in time trials and in races. Santini provides that. This season we’ve started well with two UCI Tour wins, so hopefully we can keep winning and doing the brand justice.
SANTINI: Last but not least, what garment from our Collection really stands out to you & why?
TOM: Easy - The bib short we’ve been using, the Tono with C3 chamois. This impressed me instantly and we haven’t had a single complaint about it. That’s 18 riders, training 5-6 times a week. I don’t think in my own 8 years of being involved in a team that’s ever happened. Lastly from me, as I mentioned earlier, not so much a garment, but actually the speed of the service and production from Santini itself is a huge benefit. Custom manufacturers often state certain time frames, but Santini has been the quickest and least fuss, which I didn’t expect - it’s something you associate with smaller companies, but the level of service was amazing and definitely felt like a custom order should feel.
Thank you Team Bridgelane, stay up to date HERE