MEET THE METEOR // INTELLIGENTSIA TEAM
The Meteor // Intelligentsia Team has assembled a talented roster for its new-for-2018 elite women’s U.S. domestic road team. Based in New York City yet representing four countries, its riders will be competing in a variety of races across the U.S. We chatted with Team Manager and Racer BrittLee Bowman just as the season was about to get under way at the Chico Stage Race, where the team won the Sprinters' Jersey.
Stan’s NoTubes: How did the team come to be?
BrittLee Bowman: Some of the riders were teammates of mine in the past, and some have just joined us - we all bring different talents and skills. We have some riders who are already well known in the U.S. crit racing scene, plus we’ll try our hand at some stage races. Many of us have done UCI-categorized road races like in Gatineau, Philly and Winston-Salem in the past, so it’ll be interesting to see how we come together for the multi-day events. I can’t wait to see what we can do!
SNT: What are Meteor and Intelligentsia?
BB: Our title sponsors are Meteor Cafe, a bike studio and cafe serving wine, beer and coffee and Intelligentsia Coffee. In fact, the founder of Meteor is also a co-founder of Intelligentsia. The confluence of bikes and coffee is inevitable and obvious. It just makes sense, and we’re stoked to have them both onboard. SNT: What is The Meteor // Intelligentsia’s focus for 2018?
BB: We’re excited about the USA Crits series. The organizers have put on races for years, including Speedweek and other events, but this year, they are doing a whole new 10-race series plus a finale. There will be $100,000 in overall series prizes plus individual race prizes, and they’re giving out equal prize money for men and women. They’ll do their own livestream broadcasting of all 11 races. If you want to watch, you can buy a pass to view the entire series. The broadcasts will take turns featuring the top 10 division one men’s and women’s teams since there will be a teams series competition in addition to an individual series competition. Besides the USA Crits series, we’ll do some USA Cycling Pro Road Tour events and some UCI-categorized races. SNT: Will you please tell us more about your riders?
BB: The team includes three foreign riders: Jessica Mundy (Australia), Harriet Owen (United Kingdom) and Kirstie James (New Zealand). Jessica joins us from Colavita/Bianchi and is looking forward to her third season of U.S. racing. Harriet hails from Oxford, England, where she previously raced on Matrix Cycling, and she brings with her a rocket-like sprint. Kirstie is from New Zealand and comes from a track background. She’s ridden with the national team and completed in World Cups and World Championships. I’m excited to see Cynthia Frazier will do. She was my teammate last year and developed so much last season. She’s got strong crit legs and a good sprint in her. She’ll be fun to watch in the crits. Other team riders include three of my previous teammates with whom I'm pleased to work again: Nicole Mertz, Daphne Karagianis and Kristen Arnold. SNT: What would make 2018 successful for the team?
BB: Our success will be defined by having positive experiences and coming away from the season having learned a lot and progressed in our careers, having had a great time and having done well by our sponsors. Being on the top step of the podium isn’t always the end goal. Yes, we want to aim for that top step often because it’s amazing to be there, but you can also accomplish a bunch of things and learn a lot when you don’t win a race. We also want to be positive and powerful role models, on and off the race course. We are committed to teamwork, pushing athletic limits, building confidence, expanding horizons, setting and achieving goal and developing as individuals and a team. SNT: What wheels are you riding and racing?
BB: We’re excited to be using Stan’s Avions in both the rim and disc brake versions. The Avions are deep dish carbon wheels that are excellent for racing; with my previous team, I helped test the prototypes and had some great races on them. We’re also riding some new prototype alloy rims with a wider rim profile that are awesome especially on long dirt road rides. To be honest, I don’t think much about my wheels - which is exactly what I look for in my equipment. I just want my wheels to be right for the job, and they are. They feel good whether I’m pedaling or braking. SNT: What do you think about road tubeless?
BB: I love having road tubeless. It makes so much sense! I’ve been riding and racing it for six years and have had a total of four maybe five flats. It’s amazing. Sure, I’ve probably had other punctures, but Stan’s sealant worked so well that those did not affect my rides; I was always able to finish the ride home, pump the tires back up to full pressure and continue riding them for many more months with no issues. Road tubeless is awesome for both training and racing. When I’m traveling to a bike race, I no longer have to bring a training and racing set of wheels. I just bring my Avions and use them for everything, typically with 25 or 28mm tires.
SNT: What trends, if any, are you seeing with road tubeless?
BB: I’m seeing more tubeless tire options becoming available which I think will only steer more racers to choose tubeless. But let’s just say that if I were running a team with no wheel sponsor, I would tell everyone that we’re getting Stan’s wheels. Stan’s has the right products at the right price, and it just makes more sense to have tubeless wheels rather than tubulars and clinchers because each rider can have just one set of wheels. SNT: What trends are you seeing in women’s road racing?
BB: More promoters are understanding that equal prize money for men and women is important, so it’s happening more and more. As a woman doing the sport, I obviously put in just as much time and effort as the men, and I want to be compensated equally. Unfortunately, if you look at the Pro Road Tour calendar, there are still more races for men than for women. There’s a gap in the calendar at the end of the summer for the women.
SNT: What do you think can be done to get more women into racing their bikes?
BB: What will help is bringing more women into the sport at a young age so that they can see that cycling is an option for being part of their life. If more women discover cycling earlier, they are more likely to reach their athletic potential. More media coverage will help, too; it’s about showing young women what the sport is and getting them intrigued to try it and discover how fun it can be. Ultimately those women would eventually be the ones who would upgrade to cat. 1 and 2. But that doesn’t happen overnight; it takes dedication. Follow The Meteor // Intelligentsia Team Website www.matchestoburn.com Instagram: @themeteor_intelligentsia Facebook: www.facebook.com/MatchesToBurn/ Hashtag: #matchestoburn