It’s not often you get a behind-the-scenes glimpse into life on the WorldTour, but in our latest show that’s exactly what we have, as Carmen Small, director sportif of the women’s Jumbo-Visma team, shares the secrets of the team’s success. We learn about what differentiates Jumbo-Visma from its competitors and the support they put in place for their athletes that allows them to thrive and succeed.
And Small is no stranger to success herself, having raced on the US national team and in the WorldTour. She won the women’s team time trial twice at the world championships and is also the 2016 US time trial champion.
It’s undoubtedly this experience from her own racing career that helps guide her leadership now, and what’s particularly impressive is the holistic approach she takes to supporting the athletes on her team. We discuss the wide range of resources that the team makes available to the female athletes to support and help them be their best. It is obvious that the athletes’ long-term health and development takes precedence over immediate race results. And what’s the one thing that Small looks for in potential riders? Tune in to find out—you might be surprised at the answer.
Catch up on previous episodes of Fast Talk Femmes and subscribe for episodes on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Overcast, Soundcloud, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you listen to your podcasts!
Dede Barry 00:05
Hi, welcome to Fast Talk Femmes, hosted by Julie Young and Dede Barry. Our guest on this episode is Carmen Small. Carmen is a former US National Team and World Tour Professional cyclist. She’s a two-time gold medalist at the World Championships Team Time Trial. She’s also the 2016 US National Time Trial Champion.
Dede Barry 00:25
Carmen’s cycling career spanned from 2007 to 2017. After the 2017 season, Carmen retired from professional cycling and became a team director. Currently she’s the director sportif for one of the premier women’s UCI World Tour cycling teams, Team Jumbo-Visma. Carmen is well known for her tactical savvy in the cycling community.
Dede Barry 00:46
In our discussion with Carmen, we look forward to gaining insights into one of the most successful women’s World Tour teams, learning about what differentiates Jumbo-Visma from its competitors, and the support that they put in place for their athletes to allow them to thrive and to win at the highest level of the sport.
Brittney Coffey 01:07
Hi, listeners, we’re so excited that you’re here to check out Fast Talk Femmes, a new podcast series that’s all about the female endurance athlete. Here at Fast Talk Labs, we pride ourselves on being the pioneers of information and education in the endurance sports world for both athletes and coaches. If you like what you hear today, check out more at fasttalklabs.com.
Dede Barry 01:31
Welcome, Carmen, thank you for joining us today. Can you tell us a little bit about how you got started with Jumbo Visma?
Oh, that’s a big question. I can tell you the long story is a short story. But basically, I had known Ezra Trump for a while. And I knew her from racing. But then I also know her from running parkhotel. And I always thought they did a really good job, I had a lot of respect for her. And then I came to a point with my last job that I needed to change pretty desperately, I was losing a lot of passion for the sport and wasn’t in a good place with the team and environment and really needed to change. So I had actually stopped in June of the prior year. But already in February, I knew I would change teams. So I reached out to Ezra and just had an initial conversation with her. I really liked the startup of jumbo because they actually started a pretty small like they did just go oh, we’re World Tour Part of the men’s team and have everything. So we started a conversation and I you know, had just asked, Are you guys looking for another race coach or director for the following season? And she said, yeah, we might. But let’s keep in touch. So we kind of talked and you know, I was really honest and open with her what was kind of most important to me with the values and how I looked at cycling and my philosophy for directing. A lot of their team philosophy was really my own. They have Blonko course, which is a series of things they go by for the team. And a lot of that actually matched right on. So I felt like it would be a really good place for me because more important, like I needed a good home. And I needed to have some inspiration and really feel like I was a part of a team again, that gave me more facilitated what I was good at which is motivating the girls and race coaching, which that’s what they call directing. So race coaching, and kind of fostering that. So it was a good match. And I went for it and I’m really happy after one season. It’s been a really good home for me that I landed in.
Dede Barry 03:45
That’s excellent. Were you friends or teammates with any of the riders on the team. But prior to joining Jambo as a director?
Yeah, no, actually, I’m trying to think now. I mean, I knew I knew some of the riders because I also had them on the previous team. So I was on or that I was directing. So on for two and then also W and T the team prior to this one, I had overlap some riders so I knew them and of course I raced against majority of them because the age differences and so much yet, so I did know a big group of them and of course I was in cycling so I knew them from from the races from watching them race and yeah, being on a different team, but in the same, you know, cycling as a small family.
Dede Barry 04:30
So yeah, it’s cyclins definitely a small world.
Yeah, so as far as she’s the team manager, and she does some overhead of like higher up stuff in the company as well Jumbo visma. So she took on like multiple roles. But as far as I know, it is my boss, per se. She’s managing the women’s team.
Dede Barry 04:50
And so Carmen, you’ve had a 10 year professional cycling career and you’ve been the director of three teams now. I want you to speak a little bit to how women’s cycling teams have evolved in terms of support since he began cycling.
Yeah, it’s, I don’t know where the time goes. Now that you say it aloud, it’s been a while. So one thing that I have to say about the other two directors are two other coaches on the team, Marika and Lisa lot. They also came from women’s cycling from kind of the beginning. Like, we were joking, yeah, we would show up in a van and change clothes and then get on our bikes that we actually put together and, or our own mechanics. So, you know, it’s kind of nice to reflect on that part. Because in the US also, it’s a lot different. We don’t stay at hotels, or we didn’t back then we stayed at host housing. And when I became professional or on a professional team, yeah, we were well taken care of. But we were also staying at someone’s house. And we were cooking for ourselves. And we had a mechanic at the racist preparing our stuff, but he was one and we had one Swan year. Now we come to races if we are complaining if we just have to mechanics into Swan years, because why don’t we have three Swan years, you know, we come with two to race coaches sometimes, which is all necessary. So we laugh about it a bit. But the evolution is been huge, but not in my whole career. Actually, if you just look at the past five years, since I started directing, it’s changed, it’s really, really changed quickly, which isn’t necessarily a good thing, either, because you have to have the infrastructure to support it. So it’s a little bit of, you know, maybe we need to pull on the brakes a little bit. But it is, of course, a good thing, because we want to see women cycling grow women in sports grow, which it is doing. But yeah, it’s been a pretty amazing trips so far, to see how far it’s come.
Julie Young 06:52
Carmen, what do you think has accelerated that change? In such a short time span?
I think many different factors for sure, is more as we’re broadcasted. And the more fans we have, the more sponsors will come and the more money will come into the sport. So half of it is that but the half of it is also the women in cycling, you know, with the cyclists Alliance, that was a huge push, that riders have their own voice, that we have something we have someone to help us fight for what we need. So contracts. I mean, it’s amazing to think that women were signing contracts myself also, at first, I’ve read the contract myself, well, this is a legal document. Am I a lawyer? No. Do I know actually what it’s reading? Probably not. I mean, I was educated. I have a college degree, but it’s in mathematics. So you know, it’s a little bit strange that that we were doing all of that. And we didn’t know any better, because everyone was doing the same thing. Oh, yeah, I would have my coach read my contract. Is this looking good? Is it looks strange. And of course, you know, two wives are better than one. And so it’s okay. But small things like that simple things like how much am I actually worth? What should my salary be? Are the working conditions? Okay, do I have health insurance? I mean, really simple things that now and we started to question in the last five years, that are making bigger changes. So I think it’s like, not just fan base, and not just media base, but it’s all those smaller things, making the sport professional, also how teams are handling it, which I think this will go into your next question or question that will come up with how Jumbo visma Does it? Well, it’s all inclusive. It’s all in house coaching, nutrition, everything in this makes a more professional sport. So you are getting paid to do a job. And now you’re kind of held more responsible to do it.
Dede Barry 08:50
How many women’s teams are currently able to provide the in house infrastructure to be holistic support system and ecosystem for their riders?
I don’t know actually, how many are doing it. Currently, I would think that all the world tour men’s teams that have a women’s team attached are doing it. I can’t speak about st works, because I actually don’t know and they’re not attached to men’s program. So I’m not sure FDJ I think, does a very, very, very good job of it. And they’re not attached to a men’s program as well. I’m not sure how much of its in house, but I think a good portion of it is but I can speak for Jumbo visma only, but it’s it’s quite amazing how much of it is in house. Like I think that we’re one of the only teams that the writers have to be coached by a coach from jumbo FISMA. And just the benefit of that, and I don’t think that actually the girls understand that yet. And this is like a next push I think for the women in cycling is that I’ve been a part of two other programs that we did not push the riders in To be honest, it’s not correct. But we’re really only care about them showing up to the races and performing. It’s not a question of why or how or, you know, it’s if they didn’t perform, then you go to the coach and complain, but who’s actually responsible for that performance. So it’s really nice that Jumbo visma Does this because we have the interests of the rider actually, first, of course, we want them to perform. So we’re going to make them a program that is suitable for them, we’re going to make them a training program is suitable for them. They’re getting enough rest, if they’re sick, we make them stay home. So it really changes the dynamics there, which I don’t think that the athletes understand that yet. Because I think a lot of them are scared off by Oh, no, it’s too much structure, I need to be having my own coach, I don’t want to leave my coach, which I get I was an athlete who was coached by the same coach for my whole entire career. I was really, really lucky in this. And it’s hard to switch coaches. So I understand that point. But if you look at like the overall What’s your IQ, actually the benefit of it, I would do it in an instant. If I was an athlete nowadays,
Julie Young 11:13
I love the model that you have that just the integration and everything under one roof, because I think we all know, having been athletes, like performance isn’t based on just one factor. It’s the integration of all those factors. And really providing those riders with all those tools and resources, you know, because it’s just like, gosh, we can be just killing it physically in the training. But if we’re shooting ourselves in the foot nutritionally, you’re not going to see the payoff. And I think it’s just, you know, having the biomechanics and all of that support. It’s just it makes the results exponential.
Yeah, absolutely. 100%. Like, it’s pretty amazing, like, what jumbo FISMA is doing and what they provide their athletes like it, I wish I had that. Actually, when I was racing, I don’t know what the other level I could have achieved, but definitely could have been more because you have so many resources. And they’re really cautious about injury, about sickness, because it doesn’t benefit them if they’re injured or sick. So they want to make them as well as fast as possible. Right.
Julie Young 12:20
I think that’s something else that’s really interesting, I think when we get in these environments that can be so based on, you know, immediate performance, but just understanding the long term health of the athlete and really caring for that. And you know, as Didi had alluded to the holistic approach and, you know, mental, physical, emotional,
yeah. And I think that’s a next step for I think, cycling in general, I don’t even know how many men’s teams are doing it, but they have to come in with a mental health coach. I think it is really the next thing. I don’t know how we’ve gotten this far without it. To be honest, I was lucky in my career at the end to have someone support me that way. We talk about everything else nutrition training, right, sleeping right in our mind is actually the most powerful tool. We have.
Dede Barry 13:08
I completely agree with that. It was interesting. My husband raised professionally, Michael Berry. And the last team that he wrote for was Team Sky, which he signed for, I believe in 2009 2010 was his first year at the team, whatever the first year, that sky got going was. And that was the first team he’d been on after, you know, a 1012, your professional career that actually had a psychiatrist and psychologist available to the athletes. And Skye had a really holistic approach for the time. And it made a massive difference in terms of the performance of the team and the growth of the team. And what are the things that I really liked seeing right now that I know team ENEOS is doing and some of the other teams are doing as well as they’re hiring young riders and giving them long contracts, and allowing them to develop within the team. So I’ve heard about a number of teenagers getting getting hired on to some of these teams with three year contracts, which is great, because when we were young, I mean, in the men’s and women’s programs, it was really rare that someone got an initial unio pro contract of more than one to two years. So it just gives these kids security and allows them time to develop within the program. I think it’s really good is jumbo doing that as well.
Yeah. So for next year, we didn’t sign writers who have years and years of experience and the women’s side we have really young rider, so signing them out of juniors kind of taking that same approach of like, you know, we want to really help them achieve something great, but they come from nothing. It’s really a blank slate. So we’re really lucky to really get them in a good environment. Teach them about nutrition because nutrition on the bike is really hard for riders, I mean, or for athletes. It’s really really hard to eat correctly and know what you’re supposed to. So just that like basic knowledge We never had that we were always guessing what should I be eating? What do I eat now? Like, it was always this big mystery. And you know, it’s really, they they spell it out for each rider what they need to do in this about each rider. It’s not like a blanket saying like, okay, every writer needs to do this. It’s really individualized. And so I think just learning in that education piece is so crucial. So we are doing that for sure. Like, we kept a lot of the same riders, but we’re expanding to 16 riders next year, and it will be partially development group, partially world to work group. So we’ll do like a combination and join them together to learn about tactics and different race strategies and to learn from each other as well.
Julie Young 15:48
The education piece is just seems so critical. And I think what’s hard right now is there’s so much information available. But is it good information? I think that when you all have those experts in place, and really can control that information, not not in a bad way, but a good way, really filter it for the riders, I think that’s so valuable.
Yeah. And I think too, there’s so many different philosophies out there that are not wrong or right, that they’re just different, you know, and I think that is the key to is like getting the girls or athletes whomever into a program that they really actually believe in it. Like it probably one is not better than the other, they’re probably pretty similar. But if you really believe in what you’re doing, and you really sell it to the athlete, and they go 100% into it 110% into it, they’re going to be successful. So I think, you know, really being clear about the expectations, being clear about the team philosophy and educating why like, we tell them always to ask, ask why, why are we doing this? We have an explanation. It’s not that we’re like, oh, this is nice. We Google searched it. And and, you know, so I think that piece is really in it. And for me, that’s like a fundamental thing. Because I come from education. I was an educator. So for me, it’s really nice to be a part of a program that also feels the same way.
Julie Young 17:19
And I think that why is so important in terms of motivation and purpose, like the writer has to understand and connect the dots not just be going through the motions.
Right, right, I think and I was lucky with my coach, he always asked me like, do you want to know why? Yeah, of course. So I was lucky. And I had also a lot of good mentors or good directors. Also in my career that helped me I try to take all the good things that I learned through my career and directing and try to use it now. So.
Dede Barry 17:50
So Carmen, you’ve described and touched on a little bit, the resources that Jambo has in place for arts writers, such as nutritionists, and coaches, and psychologists, what are some of the other resources that are available to the riders that you feel really helped them succeed? For example, do they have access to aerodynamic wind tunnel testing and biomechanics and other resources that you think make a big difference for the team?
Yeah, basically, if you need it, you just need to ask and the team will provide. So it’s really limitless, to be honest. And that’s what I really push on the girls like, do you understand what is available to you? Like, you need to take advantage of it because a lot of it to the the teaching or the philosophy of jumbo visma is you have to take responsibility, accountability. So if you’re not asking, also, the team isn’t just going to be like, Okay, we’re doing this doing this and doing this, like you also have to have a want and a desire to be better. And what does that mean for me, because it’s going to be different for Rihanna versus Caroline. You know, they’re different riders. But you know, I think a team doctor, we have a team doctor in this is huge. It’s really, really the medical part is absolutely huge. What do you do when you have a sore throat? And now especially with COVID? Like, is it just a sore throat? Is it allergies? Is it COVID? Is it what is it they have the metrics every day that they fill out they also have like online, it’s all centralized. If they are getting sick, they enter it. It goes immediately to the team doctor, the T doctor calls, you notifies the coaches. We have a lot of sickness right now, because of COVID Because everyone wore masks and didn’t do anything for two years, and now everyone’s getting sick and sick, sick. So we had riders missing races, not because of COVID just because of normal illnesses. And that needs to be dealt with quickly. You know, and so I think the team doctor is a huge resource that we have that most teams don’t have. I think this was the first team I was a part of that had an actual team doctor that was specifically for the team. Yeah, we always had a team doctor, if you got hurt, you could call so and so. But it was like an afterthought. It was a job for, you know, on the side, it was just because the UCR required us to have a team doctor. So they wrote a team doctor down, you know, so they have team doctor, they look at bone density, and making sure the whole body is healthy before you just get started. So every year they measure the heart and measure the bone density, they do a scan of the body, then they do an evaluation with the biometrics. So how are you moving? As you have one hip that’s off? You have one leg that’s not as strong as the other? What can we do? Okay, here’s a plan to work through this for this winter to get you back on track. So there’s that we talked about the mental coach, we talked about the coaching in house, yeah, for sure. I’m forgetting. But really, if you need something, you can ask and get it for sure. The aerodynamics stuff? It depends a little bit because it is costly. So it’s not that you want to send everyone to the wind tunnel, it’s not necessary. Also, I don’t think we need to send Corinne to the wind tunnel for time trial testing. She’s not going to do a time trial probably all year. So you know, if it’s necessary, the team will provide it for sure. Because we also want our athletes to go as fast as possible.
Dede Barry 21:30
Yeah, that’s great. I know, there’s obviously not parity in terms of salary among the men and the women on Jambo visma. But in terms of resources, do you feel like there is a relative amount of parity like if there’s a need they supply?
Absolutely, yeah. Yeah, it’s really, you know, equipment rise, we’re on the same equipment as the men. Okay, we weren’t on 12 speed this year, but we will next year. But this was a supply problem, not a internal house problem wheels, they were under ace, and we were unreserved, but this was also just because of supply issue. And next year, we’re all on reserve. So, you know, like some of this is getting just worked out because of COVID. Actually, because of we there was no, there was no material. But I think in the big picture, you know, we’re the same, essentially, is because they also have the u 23. Program. So it’s not just the men’s world to work, they have a u 23. Men’s Team, and then us. So it’s quite a large company. I think there’s over 200, staff member working for Jumbo visma. So that’s how I dress. Yeah, it’s quite a project.
Dede Barry 22:40
Yeah, yeah. But I imagine the resources are quite deep because of that. Any expertise as well?
Yeah, exactly. So and we can always go to the men’s side as well, if we have a question about something or if we want to bounce an idea off of another director or another coach, and they have coaching calls for the physical part. And then it’s all together. And so they’re talking about, they will bring in different experts to kind of educate them and make sure they’re doing the latest and greatest. I’m not on those calls, because I don’t coach any athletes, but I hear about them. So,
Dede Barry 23:14
yeah, I want to pivot the conversation a little bit. Now to mindset and culture Jumbo visma is a really international team. Can you describe the mindset and the culture and how that diversity might help to make the team stronger, or also make it more challenging in certain situations?
Well, it’s it is international, but it’s very much Dutch oriented, and they’re very proud of their Dutch roots. So I think I’m one of the only, I’m the only American on the staff. And there’s a few Germans on the men’s side, Lisa, lots Belgium, but it’s really, really Dutch. And they kind of want to keep it that they want to keep it Dutch I mean, it’s in the Blonko course, they’re proud of their Dutch roots. That being said, they’re still really open. I mean, they things are communicated for sure. In Dutch, and I’m really good at Google Translate. But I think the of course, if I’m in the conversation, they all speak English. So it’s nice. And then in terms of the writers, of course, we have Dutch writers as well. And the majority of our writers are Dutch, but they do look in the bigger picture. And for me, I think it really enhances the team to have the international part. Because when you start dealing with different cultures, you bring in different dynamics into the team and you kind of challenge each other a bit with different characters. And I think it makes the team stronger with that diversity. Because you can’t just operate like oh, it’s because it’s Dutch. We do it this way. Well, we can’t do that always you become really open minded. You have to take into account how you speak with one writer versus the other. I mean you do even if they’re the same nationality, but even more so because The way you approach it may be completely different because of a cultural thing. So I think it really makes the team stronger in turn.
Trevor Connor 25:10
My listeners, are you looking to gain a deeper understanding on how your body uses energy and fuel? Look no further because Steve Neil Performance Coaching is exactly what you need. For limited time, you can get a wide range of data and Steve’s testing package that includes metabolic efficiency test, respiration test, functional movement screening, for hours of consultation and q&a sessions, plus an hour follow up consultation. This program is designed for all endurance athletes at any level. Check it out today at Steve Neil performance.com.
Julie Young 25:46
Hey, Carmen, and speaking of the team and the riders, I would imagine as a team director, you’re pivotal in the development of the team in terms of building that team and recruiting riders. What are the top three attributes you look for in a rider?
Well, fortunately, I am not the one getting to sign the rider or sorry, don’t have to do that. I did it already on virtue, and it was one of my nightmare jobs. Okay, it was really, to deal with contracts, I think is the worst part of us cycling management problem. And now all the a lot of the women writers are having managers, which I think is well needed, it’s time that we also have that the girls have managers like the men, but I’m really happy, I don’t have to deal with it. So my part in that is, you know, they have a lot of testing that they do before they sign a writer. So they want to know their numbers, basically. And then but they always they do run it by me or by the coaches and say this is what we’re looking at. Do you have any comments? So of course, they take in what we think, also, if it’s, you know, like I said, it’s a lot of young athletes that we’re signing for next year. But if it’s an athlete, maybe that has been around for a while, maybe I have more of an input than a young writer. But what I would say to any athlete looking to get onto a team is we have when I was on virtue, at least I had 70 to 100, the resume sent to me all like in a span of three months, you don’t have time to look at all of these resumes. And it’s really a job. And for sure, I didn’t have time, and maybe you only have three spots to fail. And this was a virtue was a small team. It wasn’t even World Tour at the time. Yeah, we were a good team. But we were still relatively small with not a lot of money to offer. So I can imagine the bigger teams, how many resumes they’re getting. For riders. It’s really insane. So you know, I think a big thing is to give yourself a name actually is to be open say hi. Don’t just walk by directors, if you’re in the elevator, say something. Because always first impressions. We know who the riders are. Normally, if you’re in a hotel with them, definitely say something it doesn’t need to be like introducing myself. Hi, my name is Carmen small, but maybe to sit you know, simple thing like waving high as a as something to remember, oh, that girl’s polite, like, so making sure they know who you are. Because, yeah, they see 100 resumes. Everyone has the same number as essentially, I mean, okay, there’s some outliers, but everyone is in the same small percent there of of where your threshold and co2 Max might be. But I would say, you know, give them a reason to want to assign you, whatever that means, but give them a reason. So, find a really good manager as well.
Julie Young 28:52
Have you found like, when you’re directing at different races, it’s you’ve ever like identified a rider or recognized a rider in terms of performance and recommended that rider to the team?
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Like, for me, personally, character goes a long way. So if you see a rider who’s always fighting to come back, yeah, maybe their first year out of juniors, but if you see a fight in them, this is really good thing. If there are if someone’s always showing up in a break, this is another thing, okay? They at least to know how to get into a break, you know, you can work with that they have the power to be there, but also they have a little bit of knowledge. Definitely writers who catch my eye will always say, hey, what about and also, as a writer, put yourself out there and be friendly with everyone because that also goes a long way. For sure you hear the girls talk. I always am listening to the girls. Maybe I shouldn’t say that aloud because now they know I listen to them. But I’m always listening to their conversation and especially when they’re talking about other riders, they’re the ones racing with them. They’re the ones that are making an impression on each other. Not the directors were in the car we don’t see so much. We see things on paper. But if you have a rider that you hear in conversation coming out, oh, she was really strong. Oh, she was really strong in this save name, of course, you start paying attention a little bit more.
Julie Young 30:20
Yeah, I think it’s it’s tricky. You know, I think power is super such a great way to train. But I think people lose sight and feel like if they’re just hitting power numbers that kind of guarantees performance or guarantees a place. And as you say, it’s really that whole person. I mean, it’s the teammate. It’s the grit. It’s all those personality traits.
Yeah. And you can have all the power you want. But if you can’t go to the front of the bike race, summary, you’re never going to win. So if you’re crashing all the time, it’s not helpful. So yeah, we can look at power numbers all we want, but they also have to learn how to ride their bike. And if they’re new, this is one thing. But if they’re been in the sport for 10 years, and they, they still can’t find the front of the bike race, then maybe it’s not the best sport for them.
Dede Barry 31:11
Cycling is a challenging sport to where even the best cyclists, their win rate is actually not that high. And you have to be really good at dealing with failure and turning it around into a win. And yeah, that’s one thing. If I look back on my career, and even I have a son who’s now bike racing, it’s the kids that that have the grit and the ones that are willing to come back over and over again, and keep attacking and keep coming back, you know, get up from a crash and go that are gonna succeed on the sport.
Absolutely. Yeah. It’s really the I always like, compare it to someone who’s lasting longest in the career that will end up with the results. So it’s really crazy sport. It’s super, super hard. I always am telling the girls that don’t expect this to be easy. Yeah, we are in a really, really
Dede Barry 32:02
hard sport. And it takes a really high level of determination. Yeah, mentally
hard, physically hard. You get out of bed and everything hurts. I think back now, people you want to do a comeback? No way. No way. I don’t want to train that hard. It’s really, really tough. And I don’t miss crashing, I don’t miss getting up every morning and having to shovel in food in the stage race. I don’t miss that part of the sport. So it’s really hard. And you have to be really, really tough girl to do well on it.
Julie Young 32:35
And then another thing, Didi and I spent most of our careers in Europe, in my opinion, most Americans don’t understand how gnarly it is in Europe. It’s just you felt like every day was a fight for your life. And, you know, to your point, it’s just yeah, it’s the bike handling. It’s dealing with 60 mile per hour cross winds and rain, and 140 women on a like a bike path, size Road, all those factors. And then, of course, the cultural differences too.
Yeah, it’s a huge challenge, you know, and that’s what I really tried to get the foreigners to understand like for Americans to come over. It’s not just racing, it is so much more. It’s like, if you didn’t grow up focusing for three, four hour bike race the whole time, because it’s the mental focus, especially racing in Holland. It’s a nightmare with all the road furniture positioning, and it’s not a physical problem. It’s actually a mental problem. For those races. You’re so mentally fatigued at the end, then they wonder why are she crashing all the time? Well, yeah, she’s so mentally destroyed at this point. She can’t focus anymore. So she crashes into the back of everyone. You know, it’s not as simple as like, Oh, she just can’t ride her bike. Well, no, she’s on her limit, probably physically as well. So now she’s a has no control. So it’s really, really tough and living over here. And I always tell the Americans that want to come over. Like the best thing you can do is you need to come over commit setup home base in Europe, make it comfortable, make it that you’re going home from the races, you’re not just going to go live out of your bag again, take away at least that and then you’re already at a step ahead. You know, so it’s really, really challenging. Coming over here to race which you have to do it if you want to be the best in the world. You have to be in with the best in the world, which is European racing. So it’s definitely a bigger commitment. And I would say no, it’s a Holland, Belgium riders. I mean, you have also the Australians and New Zealand riders, the Canadians who are dealing with the same thing. So it’s not just for Americans, but yeah, it’s a big obstacle for sure.
Julie Young 34:55
I agree with you like it really is about immersing yourself in that culture. You’re and I think DeeDee and I both really loved that, you know, we’d loved the culture of it, versus I think a lot of Americans really resist that. And I agree with you, you really do have to make it your home.
Yeah. And it’s hard because some have families at home somehow for husbands or kids, even in homeless being in the US or Canadia, or wherever. So it’s hard to make that transition. And some people just can’t do it. But I think then you really set yourself up for another obstacle to have to overcome. It’s really challenging. Also, it’s like, I don’t think it’s fair that you could just do time trials in the US and then come to World Championships and race. I think that just because you can do with it for the criteria, if that states that. But this isn’t bike racing, sorry. But you know, bike racing is a full 360 degree thing. It’s not just okay, I can do a time trial fast possible. And, and fortunately, Americans are really good at it. I get that. But I think with the the World Championships in this the higher level stuff, we need to take bike racers, not just time trial lists.
Dede Barry 36:08
Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Julie, do you have any further questions?
Julie Young 36:12
Yeah, I mean, I just wanted to kind of back up a little bit and just talk about I think, which is so valuable, what you all are doing with the younger riders, because that does seem to be a big gap or big conversation piece right now, in terms of and to your point about, like, there’s been this big acceleration to move everybody to World Tour, yet there really aren’t the riders to fill all those places. And that really needs to happen with development. And so to your point, you third Junior riders, and then they have to make this big leap to World Tour, but you’re really filling that gap, it seems like
Yeah, and you know, the UCI needs to adjust a bit because we have a huge gap there. If you look at the races that juniors are doing, it’s 62. I think the longest is around 80 kilometers. We race 170 and 150. On average, a lot of our races are around 150. This is almost double. So the turnaround. So you have whatever i don’t know i Let’s just say 50 juniors, that will go to elite right then which is high. Okay, we’ll just take 50 as an example. The girls that actually can complete these races are maybe 10. You know, and can you imagine going into, okay, I’m a good Junior rider, you know, in the top 20. And now I go into elite and I can’t even finish a race. Because I’ve been basically set up for failure. I mean, this isn’t growing the sport, this is making it actually go down.
Dede Barry 37:41
Karma and I agree with you completely. It seems to me that the UCI is rules around Junior racing is really antiquated. Especially given that kids are maturing from a younger age, they have access to data and power meters and training and nutrition advice at a much younger age. And they’re they’re advancing, and many of them are showing power numbers that are competitive with the elites from a very young age. So I don’t understand right now why the UCI isn’t adapting. And I’d like to get your thoughts on on how they should be adopting, like, what are the changes that they need to make? Yeah, it’s
really crazy at Creek COVID, they had a rule that I think it was point two races, either there was only allowed for World Tour teams, or three or no World Tour teams, I don’t really remember the exact rule it was so long ago now. And my brain is not functioning right anymore. But anyways, it was a really good rule because it allowed these middle teams to come in and do actually nice state races or races and not have to compete with a world tour team. So a lot of these junior riders could go to these teams and develop in a somewhat normal way, because they’re not dealing with, you know, eight World Tour teams now. I mean, forlenza is in February, it might as well have been a World Tour race. And it wasn’t it was should have been. First, you know, it was supposed to be a development race. For development teams. It was always a point one or point two and now it’s grown out of control that all the World Tour teams want to go into the level already in February super high. So these teams don’t have anywhere to go one there needs to be invited to the races, which they’re not getting the invite because of course they’re going to invite the World Tour teams over the smaller continental teams. So it’s it’s really a problem that UCI has. So one they need to redo the rules, figuring out how to bake this intermediate step because we don’t also want to see these smaller teams go away because that is our foundation. That is where girls are going for after juniors because we have no youth 23 So they have a place to go because also how can you justify paying 18 or 19 year old a minimum set salary, they live with their parents. They don’t need a minimum salary yet, and they’re barely finishing the World Tour races. So like to justify that is also really difficult. So I like that Jumbo visma is taking the responsibility in developing some riders. But we also know that we have to do it, because we want to also keep riders. So if we can help shape them, mold them into better riders better for us, because hopefully then they also stay on Jumbo visma. But I think more teams are going to have to do it also canyons RAM, they do a really good job. They have their development team. So I think teams seem to also start taking it into their own hands to help this problem because it is actually going to be our problem in a few years because there’s going to be no Junior writers because they can’t. I mean, we have Linda on the team. First year junior, she came to Valencia, I think we had one stage at 160. She goes Carmen, my longest race was 90 kilometers. And I was like, oh, yeah, that’s correct. So what is the goal for the race? The goal literally in February was like, let’s get Linda through the race, like just completion, because the amount of kilometers is crazy and the amount of climbing that they’re doing.
Dede Barry 41:23
Yeah, but there’s no doubt in my mind that there’s juniors out there first year elite riders that that could be competitive, just like in the men, you’ve got Magna Sheffield, and wanna yo. So they’re podium mean, in the top level World Tour races right out of the juniors. And that’s because they’re coming prepared. They’re basically prepared because they bypass some of the UCI rules by doing things like gravel races, or mountain bike races or training and regular gears instead of junior gears. It’s good. They’re finally doing away with the gear limit. Because that’s another antiquated rule that really didn’t make any physiological sense. No,
and it’s good that they’re now reevaluating that. I mean, they need to reevaluate the rules point. I mean, also, you know, but going back to that with Linda, she was fourth that battle the north, it’s a world to erase. So even the steps that she was able to gain with being with a team in six months is huge. You know, can you imagine if they just did like a small step with the juniors or had some in like, they could race longer? Oh, definitely. Yeah, they can race longer. So like the gearing reevaluate the kilometers. I mean, it’s not relevant anymore. Yeah. Also with the women. I mean, we also don’t need to keep going further. They don’t need to race longer than 151 70. It’s enough. You know, we don’t need to do 200 Kilometer races, it’s not necessary. You can see when we do 170 races, no one is racing their bikes, it’s not necessary to do long races for us. So it seems like there’s no balance there. You know, like, they’re extreme on one thing. And then with the other thing where they could be a little bit more like, okay, we’re evolving a bit. Let’s increase the kilometers here.
Julie Young 43:16
Carmen, do you think that having more designated you 23 races for the females would help with development? So create more of that stepping stone?
Yes. And no, I mean, the problem is, is are like what Didi is saying? They’re competitive with the elite riders. So we have if you look at the result, I always put the age on Pro Cycling stats, a lot of the top 10 riders are you 23 riders right now. So do they need their own race? I don’t think so. Because they’re very competitive in the elite. The problem is that juniors and juniors need to come up more than what they’re doing now. They need to have also more racist. I mean, it’s not enough racist for them. Okay. Yeah. COVID happened in so they’re readjusting and it’s getting better, but they’d need more race days. They need longer races.
Dede Barry 44:06
I completely agree with that. I think more racing at the junior level, longer races, harder races, would bring them up to be competitive right out of the juniors. Yeah. And it’d be prepared.
Yeah. And I think that is the key is this the preparation part? Because they of course, you don’t want to get dropped every race I will also quit like, it’s not fun. So I need to be somewhat successful, like at least finishing. And given them again, the education and the resources, whether it’s coming from the Federation’s or some trade teams, I don’t know but they also miss a big piece of the education.
Dede Barry 44:41
I want to come back to recruitment a little bit. I know you said you’re not doing the contracts but you do have a little bit of a say you can make recommendations on riders and whatnot. In our generation. Riders were recruited often based on roles what they could contribute to the team. So you know, sometimes they’re would be, the team would be missing a sprinter or they need to beef up their sprinters or domestiques, or climbers. It seems like now with this youth revolution, definitely in the men’s peloton, you’re seeing strong riders with really good numbers and a lot of grit getting signed to these long contracts. And the teams are perhaps looking at them more as an opportunity to take on a rider that’s malleable. And they’re not filling necessarily a super specific role early on. But they’re allowing them to develop and see what role they’re going to best fit into. They know they’re talented, they know they’re strong. And is that something that you think that women’s teams are starting to do as well,
some like we are like, we took a row or amber. She came from rowing in the last year. They I wasn’t a part of this, but they’ve recruited her from rowing. And she’s turned it to really incredible. Cyclists actually, she was second employ. And she’s developing, just like what you said she had good numbers, she was overall strong, tough girl. Now we’re shifting to fit. So I think you have to do that on on the women’s side. But before even the men were doing it, because one you can get riders who are older. I think that’s also we can’t stop looking there. Because if they’re coming from another sport, and they’re an older rider, it’s still okay, they can still develop, they still have 10 year career, even if they’re or come into the sport late. And then also the younger riders same thing, what you’re saying is what they’re looking at numbers, but we can’t say okay, you’re just a sprinter. We have we don’t know actually how they’re gonna develop. And I think that’s really, really important to keep that and be open minded. Because you don’t know I mean, look at Annemieke atomique wasn’t a climber necessarily when she first started also, Mariana Voss, Varian of us, I think one three times the Giro people forget that. And she’s one of the best sprinters in the world. So, you know, you can shape and mold yourself. Not everybody, of course, Kiersten wild, I don’t think she was ever going to be a top climber. It’s not in the cards, but an incredible sprinter. So I think some people you have to keep open. And then of course, we still look like, you know, if we’re missing a sprinter, which, of course our team is not but also with a climber, we’re really missing a GC type climber for the Giro for the Vuelta, you know, how do we fill that spot? Is that finding a new talent and molding them into this person that we need? Or is it recruiting someone that’s already good?
Dede Barry 47:33
That’s really good.
Julie Young 47:34
You know, I was thinking, reflecting Carmine on what you had said about the team and all the amazing resources available, but to me, it’s, it’s really, people like you, you’re the glue to me, and you’re passionate. And it’s that caring for the athlete and that empathy and, you know, people around you providing that invaluable perspective and support. Like that is, to me a huge part of the equation to
know for sure. I mean, I think, you know, the other coaches, as well, we all said, sat down the other day and kind of reflected on the season and the highs and the lows. But all of us said the same thing. Like we’re doing this sport, because we’re passionate about it point, like, Okay, we get a salary, we have a paycheck, but really, we’re only in it because we really love it. And we love to see the riders be successful. I mean, some of my most favorite memories are other riders not even enough my own success. It’s of like, you know, what did we do as a team and other, you know, writers that I have on the team, their wins, and just the different things like that. So I think it’s, you know, it’s in us and we need to keep people like myself, or at least a lot of American sport, because I think they’re really like what you said, it’s what holds the team together. It’s the glue that holds the team together, but also, you know, people outside the sport like it a slap Adele, I mean, she’s a huge advocate for women and I admire her a ton, because she’s just a voice and she’s same thing really passionate about the sport about women in sport. So to keep these people around, I think is key.
Julie Young 49:13
Yeah, I just think when you’re in a situation like that, where you have that really strong sincere sense of team it’s so powerful.
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I always tell the girls like maybe we’re not the best you know on paper but as a team you guys are the most strong here if you guys racist the team, and he will absolutely kill everyone. That’s awesome.
Dede Barry 49:37
Harmon as we wrap up, what are your key takeaways from our conversation today?
That we can talk a long time about women’s cycling. Yeah, I think it is actually good that you guys are here and getting the voice out as well because, you know, I don’t know what’s happening so much in US cycling because I’m so far out. I’m really only in Europe. I haven’t been home. I’m in a year home is in Durango. So, but I think it’s, you know, I always say I’m always open, please contact me. If someone needs advice someone needs to ask a question. I’m always someone that will answer or try to answer as fast as possible. At least I’m busy sometimes. But um, you know, I really like helping up and coming writers, I really like helping Americans who want to come to Europe and make that a thing. So, you know, I think it’s important to, to always put that out there. And also with you guys like, having a voice and talking about the women’s issues and in cycling and how to grow the sport, I think is really valuable.
Dede Barry 50:43
We really appreciate that comment. I think for Julie and I, our biggest goal in doing this is addressing female issues that aren’t necessarily addressed by physiologists and nutritionists enough, so much of what we are guided by during our generation was based on scientific studies that were done with men, and, you know, training we were told to train like the men and I think now we’re finally starting to evolve and we want to just carry the conversation forward and we really appreciate your openness to discussing all this with us it’s it’s nice to to learn and hear about your ideas and your program. It’s been really amazing to watch what you’ve done at Jambo
yeah, thanks that’s been really a nice blessing to come back to that and and get that passion pack because for a little bit of there I lost it. So it’s definitely a good environment and I think that’s important too. Is that mental well being Hey Carmen,
Julie Young 51:41
to I think it’s super nice of you to offer yourself as a resource because I know just you know how it is when you’re trying to get into something you don’t even know where to start. It’s really hard to get your toe in. If people would like to contact you what’s the best way for them to contact you?
Yeah, I would say just Instagram is fine smalls coaching. So I always am checking out you know, once in a while so it’s probably the easiest.
Chris Case 52:09
Altar exploration is an adventure cycling tour company created by me fast talk labs co founder Chris case, alter explorations journey are as much about finding joy as they are about changing people’s perception of what’s possible. When you explore with alter, you’ll have a stunning, safe and supportive environment for physical and mental transformation. You’ll have opportunities to hone humility, through challenge, and you’ll have the freedom to test your limits while respecting your absolutes. If altar had a catchy slogan, it would probably go something like this, the assurance of adventure, the guarantee of beauty, the satisfaction of exhaustion, prepare to be altered. Learn more about my favorite adventure destinations and start dreaming at Alter exploration.com.
Julie Young 52:54
So one final question for you, Carmen. If you could give one piece of advice to an up and coming female cyclist? What would it be?
I would say to them, which which I tell the girls on the team actually all the time, you’re able to accomplish much more than you think you are. It’s really, really mental, or sport.
Dede Barry 53:15
Yeah, it is. It’s amazing. When I look back, I mean, I raced for 16 years. And I looked back on our career, Julie, and I think it is amazing how there were so many talented athletes that came and went because they didn’t have the mental fortitude to stick it out. And then there were a lot of like marginally talented athletes that that got a lot out of themselves. It is amazing to at the top level of the sport, the numbers aren’t that different. Right. It’s ultimately it’s who’s got the grit and the mindset and the fortitude to just keep going.
Yeah, absolutely. I would take 100 Mediocre riders with a really mentally tough attitude than one really talented rider with non mental capacity. Because you will win bike races just because you’re mentally stronger point. And it’s crazy. I always tell the girls, remember if you’re suffering, everyone else is suffering too. It’s who is going to give up fastest here.
Julie Young 54:20
I love that. Carmen, thank you so much for taking time. Really appreciate it.
Yeah. Thanks for having me. No, I will go ride my bike. Joy. Thanks, Carmen.
Dede Barry 54:29
That was another episode of Fast Talk Femme. Subscribe to Fast Talk Femme wherever you prefer to find your favorite podcast. Be sure to leave us a rating and review. The thoughts and opinions expressed on Fast Talk Femme are those of the individual. As always, we love your feedback. Get in touch via social! You can find Fast Talk Labs on Twitter and Instagram @fasttalklabs, where you’ll also find all of our episodes. You can also check them out on the web at fasttalklabs.com. For Carmen Small and Julie Young, I’m Dede Barry thanks for listening!