Strength In Numbers
BORA - hansgrohe, Pro Cycling UCI World Tour Team
In the wake of a global pandemic, the BORA - hansgrohe cycling team knows that a lifelong passion will always override a momentary set-back. They’re dialing in on the power, precision, and teamwork that gives them their edge as one of the world’s premiere cycling teams.
Photography by Kody Kohlman, Instagram: @kokody
Despite postponed races amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, cycling teams continue to train in anticipation of a delayed start. Just a few short months ago, we were in Medellín, Colombia filming the BORA - hansgrohe team as they prepared for another Spring Classics campaign that has now been postponed to the fall. Despite the challenges of stay at home orders, the team has made it clear that their dedication to their sport far outweighs any temporary setbacks.
Back in February 2020, lead rider Peter Sagan, had one singular goal in mind: Help prepare the team for a victorious season ahead. “Everything that happens during a race is a result of training. And every rider is different. One needs to focus on sprints while another spends more time on climbs. But while training camp challenges us physically, the main reason we go is to strengthen our unity. Spending time training together gets us dialed in on what it means to be a team, or a ‘band of brothers’ as we call ourselves.”
“Spending time training together gets us dialed in on what it means to be a team, or a ‘band of brothers’ as we call ourselves.”
Peter Sagan, 3x World Champion
Colombia was a unique but fitting choice for the elite cyclists who typically train in Europe. Sitting at an elevation of 1,500 meters (4,900 feet), the city features colorful streets and is surrounded by vast mountainous landscapes. A picturesque setting ripe for rigorous rides, not dissimilar to those they would face in the then upcoming Spring Classics. In other words, the type of environment that builds the agility and speed needed to win.
During the multi-week intensive, the team undergoes daily training practices. Each morning, a mechanic checks and fixes their equipment, while their coach sets the daily route. By 10:00am the team arrives, kitted up and ready to go. They ride four to seven hours with minimal breaks, through high altitude and rough terrain, building their endurance and strength and preparing themselves for when their personal limits will be challenged in pursuit of a collective victory.
In cycling, every race requires each rider on the team to execute their individual role at the peak of performance to position their lead rider for victory. And Daniel Oss, BORA - hansgrohe all-rounder and key lieutenant and confidant to Peter Sagan, says it’s that “band of brothers” mentality that makes victory that much sweeter. “In those last five hundred meters everything goes blank. The pain, the crowd, all feeling at all ceases to exist. And then one cyclist—just one of us, crosses that finish line first. And it’s the best feeling in the world. Because we all know that it was the result of the power and precision of the entire team working together as one.”
“In those last five hundred meters everything goes blank. The pain, the crowd, all feeling at all ceases to exist. And then one cyclist—just one of us, crosses that finish line first.”
– Daniel Oss
Fast forward three months later and the Spring Classics are postponed, while the rest of the season has been pushed out to the later half of 2020. Thousands of hours spent training for a postponed season and several months of uncertainty, as the team awaited word on when they would ride again. But it’s that strength-in-numbers mentality that encouraged the team to power through. When stay at home orders prevented the cyclists from training outdoors, manager Ralph Denk says the team devised new ways to maintain the endurance they fought so hard to establish at training camp: “They’ve relied a lot on their trainers and have ramped up cross-training efforts. They’re determined to stay in peak-performance shape because while this season might be delayed, it definitely isn’t over.”
And over it certainly isn’t. After a few precarious months, the team’s calendar has been officially re-set with races beginning at the end of July. And to prepare, the band of brothers are headed back to training camp, this time a bit closer to home. They leave for Ötzal, Austria in mid-June where they will undergo hours of sprints, climbs and of course, plenty of bonding.
Extreme ventilation doesn’t come at the expense of performance. The BORA - hansgrohe team dials in on the World Tour with the advantage of dual S3 BOA dials—delivering precision micro-adjustability for every sprint.