Zipp News

Back 7.5.2018

Sho-Air TWENTY20’s Nicola Cranmer Refocused on Passion for Cycling

Nicola Cranmer steps up her hunt for sponsors and media coverage for her team’s ongoing quest for Olympic and World Championship medals. It’s a relentless task requiring relentless effort, behind which is an enduring--and recently rekindled--passion for riding.

The mission of Cranmer’s Team TWENTY20 is: “Pro Cycling and Junior Development Team. Turning Olympic Dreams into Olympic Reality.” Every four years (remember team TWENTY12?), the team’s name evolves to reflect its Olympic medal goal and TWENTY20 is now focused on the Tokyo Olympics. SRAM, Zipp and Quarq are longtime team sponsors.

At the Amgen Tour of California Women’s Race Empowered with SRAM in May we talked with Nicola about the team she founded and manages. She also told how she revived her own passion for cycling. Below is an edited transcript:

How is the team doing halfway between TWENTY16 and TWENTY20?
We’re looking forward to the Tokyo Olympics and adding to the medals we won in London 2012 and Rio 2016. Chloé Dygert Owen has been on the team since she was a junior and she is a favorite to medal in the individual time trial and the team pursuit. We have developed her training plan for maximum results by focusing on high performance goals in two disciplines. We have the same approach to build on Jennifer Valente’s world team pursuit championship by focusing on the omnium as well as team pursuit at the Olympics.

We have other Tokyo medal contenders with Canadians Jasmin Duehring, and Steph Roorda, 2018 Cuban National Time trial Champion Marlies Mejias, and Sofia Arreola multi-time Mexican National Champion.

How has women’s cycling evolved? Has it become more competitive to recruit riders? Conversely, what are the challenges facing women’s cycling?
Over the past 13 seasons, we’ve witnessed the impact of cord-cutting, how livestreaming is attracting new fans and the huge impact of social media. This new era for live sports and offers brands a perfect opportunity to support women’s cycling with more ability than ever to track the impact of their investment. One of the most rewarding aspects of my job is to develop new talent. It’s a critical component in the big picture pathway of women’s cycling in the U.S. and we are very proud to be leaders in this field.

Where is the team based?
We have two bases; Bay Area retail goliath Mike’s Bikes supports us in California. And we share a space in Idaho with boutique specialty custom builder Bauer Haus Bikes. We base in California for spring races and as the schedule heads east we move to Idaho.

When the team is on the road, do you stay at a mix of hotels and host families?
When we arrive in a town stay in a hotel, you’re really isolated from the community. The athletes just love to have a kitchen and have a relaxing place to stay other than just a hotel room. Building community around the races is really important for us and helps us to develop our fan base for the team and for women’s cycling.

When you see teenagers and young women coming into bike racing, have most of them focused on cycling from young ages or do they have backgrounds in other sports as well?
We have two athletes this year who are new to the team. They were both Division I rowers at Brown University. One was a junior national rowing champion, so they have great endurance and power. We’ve had runners/triathletes on the team who have sustained injuries from running, who all of a sudden are doing rehab on a bike and they’re like, “hey, this is pretty cool!”

The team van looks as if it’s been in service for a few years. It reminds us a bit of the team vans from early 7-Eleven teams or the movie “American Flyers”!
It has, but it’s not that old (2011) but it could tell a story or two. It’s served us well. It pulls the trailer and gets the girls around. But I think it’s time for a change!

As a team manager, when things don’t go according to plan—as with Chloe’s crash in California—how do you prepare the team for the next day? Those are tough situations.
To see something like that happen like that to Chloé is really heartbreaking. She typifies the kind of focused and determined athlete we develop and we all shared her disappointment. We are thankful that she is making great progress and following our strict concussion protocol.

You have a busy job working with sponsors and handling logistics. Have you been able to find time to simply enjoy cycling in the same way you did with you were new to it?
The recent RedHook crit in Brooklyn was a stimulating experience for me, and reawakened my personal passion for the sport. The RedHook scene and demographic with its fans and grassroots feeling inspired and motivated me to get back on the bike. Coming from a mountain biking background the community vibe there resonated with me, and also underscored the rising popularity of gravel racing.

All photos except for top image by Jordan Clark Haggard