From riders to team directors, to reporters, the cycling world mourns the loss of Axeon Hagens Berman's press officer Sean Weide.
Sean Weide worked off-camera, behind the scenes, writing without a byline. You may not know his name. Yet he was key to the telling of cycling’s great stories, more so than most cycling fans will ever know.
Sean died on Tuesday, in his home in Omaha, Nebraska. He was 49. He was the press officer for Axeon Hagens Berman and previously worked for Team Type 1, Toyota-United, Rock Racing, and BMC. Pro cycling flew him away from his daughters in Omaha to France for the Tour, to Italy for the Giro, to Dubai and Spain, and across the world.
Press officer is an odd job, one built on inherent conflict. The press wants its stories, the riders want their privacy, teams want both. It was Sean’s job to find a happy medium. Under this pressure, the profession tends to take on the personality of its inhabitant. Personal characteristics are amplified. There’s no hiding the man inside when everyone on all sides asks for so much so frequently.
And so to work with Sean was to feel like you knew him. Not “work” Sean, but “real” Sean. Professional, deeply dedicated, endlessly positive, humorous, effusively proud of his five daughters, and deeply fulfilled by the young men of Axeon, and BMC before them, and Team Type 1 before them.
Just weeks ago Sean helped me collect stories of Axeon’s Chad Young. In emailing back and forth, the topic turned from the logistics of tracking down friends and family to the unfairness of early death to the pain of loss and how best to release that pain. “This is very touching,” his last email said. “Thank you for making it happen.” I didn’t make it happen, of course. That was the press officer in him speaking. As with so many of the stories we write, that collection was another joint effort with my name on it. But that was Sean. Behind the scenes, off camera, writing without a byline. More important to the telling of cycling’s stories, the happy and the sad, than most will ever know.
This is a tribute to Sean Weide. These are stories of the man from across the cycling world. From riders, from co-workers, from press, and fans, and family. If you want to add your own, email me.
Before your read on, though, I have a favor to ask. Nothing on this planet was more important to Sean than his five daughters, his “princesses.” There’s a scholarship fund set up for them, which you can donate to here.
Photo: Bob Cullinan[/caption]
Photo: Bob Cullinan[/caption]
Brent Bookwalter, Team BMC
One of my favorite Weide memories is time we shared at our first edition of the Bookwalter Binge Fondo. We were such a small and new event, we had very little budget but Sean wanted to be there for the first edition and be part of what we were trying to create. He flew himself out there on his own dime and under his own ambition. He basically saved the day as we had a freak snow storm come in and weren’t able to do the ride. With classic Weide charm, charisma, energy and passion he MCeed our revised snow day party and turned what we thought was going to be a disaster into one of the most memorable days I’ve had through the sport. We had quite a hit squad of pro riders there and I think most attendees were equally or more eager to meet Sean and find out who he was after hearing him keep the show on the road and share stories of his unique and diverse career in the sport. Even with him jumping in at the last minute he was so prepared, so professional, organized and a lot of fun. He was watching the weather in the days and hours leading up and had press releases written for every possible scenario from continuing as planned to a full cancellation. He did all that not because it was his job or to get anything in return but because he loved being part of happenings and people that got him excited and left a meaningful impact greater than Any one person could alone. And whatever he did or was part of he took so much pride in doing his best that he would leave no stone unturned even if it meant sleepless nights and meals missed. I saw that through or days at BMC but was even more reinforced when he was with us at the Binge totally off the clock and out of the kindness of his own heart. Sean was the guy who was the first up, last to bed (if he slept at all) and would often skip team dinner or post-race celebrations because he was so focussed on finishing strong and getting into the next challenge that lay ahead. I could go on and on but those are a few thoughts that came to my mind today.
Peter Stetina, former BMC rider now at Trek-Segafredo
Sean was the guy who always put others first. He always went the extra mile and for me it was the little things that stood out. For example, he made sure he had your family members names memorized from day 1, and he would give thank you cards at the end of the season to all the riders. It was always us who should have been thanking him. My Dad had part of his brain injury rehab at QLI hospital in Omaha. As a local, Sean was familiar with the campus, called me and made sure I had my bearings and offered to help in any way he could. He also remembered my Dad and Uncle Wayne from their racing days and gave me an old VeloNews mag with them on the cover as a spontaneous gift. Sean was what made the cycling community a community.
Andrew Hood, reporter
Working as team PR has to be a labor of love. On one side, you have nervous, sometimes paranoid and ego-centric cyclists, and the other, ornery, sometimes paranoid and always demanding journalists. Sean balanced both with deft. He was among the most professional team press officers I’ve ever worked with — he wouldn’t be afraid to call you out if you got something wrong in a story, but he was always first in line to help you get that story. He was a Huskers fan, and I’m a CU Boulder alum, so we’d always tease each other about football. He was always there with a smile and encouragement, always there for his riders. A huge loss for the cycling community.
Michael Sayers, former national team coach
Sean was simply one of the kindest, hardest working, nicest individuals I have ever had the pleasure to meet. He was a devoted, loving father that adored his five daughters — he made time for everyone and gave honest loving counsel to many, including myself. He understood me as a person and was there for me when I struggled with my work and life demons.
He was maybe the hardest working man I know and made cycling his passion — he slept little, worked always and cared endlessly. If you called he would make time, if not now, then 5min from now.
He was a fatherly role model and showed me what parental devotion was. He spread himself so thin but made it seem like you were all that mattered to him. This world is less without him. Cycling is less without him. I am less without him. He gave more than 40 years to this sport and cared so much it felt like a hundred. He treated a young U23 guy the same as Mario Cipollini. So many times, we just talked sports. It made my time with him feel like a day at a coffee shop even when all hell was breaking loose. We always had joke or some inside joke about SportsCenter or the Jim Rome Show. We were fans and that bonded us.
So, I will honor him by trying to be more like him. Weide, you were loved. People respected and cared about you. I will never forget my friend: Sean Weide
Dave Towle, race announcer
You just don’t meet people like Sean anymore. In the very best sense of the word, he was a throwback kind of person. Sean must have been raised by really good parents, because the way I saw him treat every single person that crossed his path was just awesome to behold. He had respect for everyone, and always tried to find the best in them. Racers, staff people, anyone who worked in cycling or with Sean in anyway felt that. It made everyone feel better. That’s an incredible gift, priceless really, and he had it. A lot of people will talk about his love for his daughters, and thats all real. I want people to remember Sean for the way he treated everyone. We need more people to embrace the kindness he always exuded. Working in the sport of cycling can be really tough and nobody did it with the grace and class that Sean did. I doubt anyone will ever meet his standard.
After every race that Sean worked as a PR person he would give me a handwritten and always thoughtful note. Every damn race. It would always thank me, and tell me I was amazing, and for a moment, with him saying it, I felt that way. Sean had a way of doing things that made me realize I can do better myself. I’m going to try to be more like Sean, seems like the best thing I can do.
Nick Shuley, press and marketing officer at Axeon Hagens Berman
In my 10 years of working in cycling I have never come across someone who cared more about the sport, its people, and its coverage than Sean. He was always working … and I’m not sure he considered it work because he enjoyed it so much. He made our team’s media and social presence the most professional it has ever been. Most importantly, he was an amazing person who truly cared about everyone he met. If you met Sean, you remembered him. He was that memorable and full of life.
Our van rides, team camps, and races will just not be the same without him. Love you and miss you buddy.
Reed McCalvin, Axeon soigneur and much, much more
Sean was one of my closest friends and Ana amazing man. He could outwork anyone and often did. He would get up and follow racing in Europe when start to post things for the Europeans waking up hours before America was up. Even when working part time. He believed that you did a job correctly despite your level of compensation.
He was a fan of the sport and many other sports. Loved his home state and wanted to get into acting as a man in his 40’s. He devoured information and was incredible at being professional even in the face of working with terrible people and non-professionals.
People had no idea where they stood with Weide as he treated everyone well and equally. Sometimes I wondered why we were friends as people that I don’t like know I don’t like them. But he would always be friendly to everyone.
We spoke often and talked about Axeon and development and he loved it. He missed being in the World Tour but was happy to work with me again after ten years.
I’ve never met another press officer like him. He worked tirelessly with Nick Shuley, our marketing manager, to exceed sponsor goals. He and I worked together to push some kids more than others who were aging out of our program and needed an awareness boost and he helped so many people with their personal brands.
When he and I worked together in 2007 at Toyota the media impact went from 8 million dollars to 17.8 or 18. That year we lost JJ Haedo to the world tour. We won fewer races. Sean was the reason. We went from a multi-million dollar ad agency with 4 people on our account to Weide. Our numbers doubled.
I’ll miss him so very much I cannot even say. He’s one of the best men and fathers I’ve come across of on my 40 plus years on the planet.
Anthony McCrossan, race announcer and commentator
I woke up yesterday morning, read the news, didnt believe it, realised it was true and just shed some tears. Why? He was one of the guys on the circuit I just enjoyed bumping into. He was always smiling, he understood what this sport is about and he cared about all of us working all over the world. We worked at the same races, taking us to wonderful places. In this sport everything is so busy you just passed a few moments here and there, catching up on news and how each other were. Sean stood out. He stood out for one distinct reason. He looked at the press and asked himself “How do I make these guys life’s easier so they talk about my team.” He cared deeply about the teams he represented and as a commentator or a speaker he made sure that you had everything you needed to talk about his guys. And you did… he armed you with more information than anyone else so you couldn’t help it. I messaged him many times to just say “thanks, Sean” or, “That’s a cool new innovation, no one else has ever done that.” He worked really hard but he was always available to answer something. He knew everyone and everyone knew him. He will be missed, he made this sport more accessible, more fun and more interesting. RIP Sean.
Koos Moerenhout, Axeon director sportif
Since I entered the team this January, I only worked with Sean for a short time. His passion for cycling and interest in people was easy to see. As the Axeon DS for mostly the European races, we were in contact after every race the team rode. This meant that Sean was still working in the middle of the night (difference European – US time), waiting for us to finish and to get our news out. We were lucky to talk about many good results by the team. I will miss these talks with him. Post race comments will not be the same. I can only thank him for his professional and passionate input to the team, next to his presence of that big friendly guy. Of course I wish his dearest ones a lot of strength during these hard times.
Ron Callahan, BikeWorldNews
Back in the early days that I was starting Bike World News, Sean reached out to me in his role as Press Officer for Team Type 1.
I was (and still am) a strong believer in that team’s mission and so I always made sure to cover them when the opportunity presented itself. Sean reached out to me directly to thank me for supporting the team. He eventually invited me out to one of their team camps, which was great experience for me, and later had me out to California again when he moved to the same role with the BMC Racing Team.
He was so generous of his time and his talent and he introduced me to so many people in the industry that I still am in regular contact with.
What’s more, when I was moving from an IT role in my day job to one in marketing and communications, Sean wrote a very kind and supportive endorsement for me on LinkedIn.
I was absolutely floored when I heard about Sean’s death. As many others have said, he was truly one of the good guys and such a strong supporter of the sport of cycling and all of those in and around it. He will be sorely missed by all of us that he touched.
Nicolò Canepara, Nickland Media
“The man with the shorts down there” – he has been introduced to me this way many years ago, in a 8°C rainy day at Paris-Nice. Then I shook his hand and the story began! He was always with his bike with a sticker “Sean, the Social Media World Champion.” Two smartphones and a blackberry. A small piece of paper with tons of tiny notes written: TV live broadcast hours, riders involved, a couple of interesting stories to talk about. Lots of pics on the front row, many from the background. Smiles, kindness, and a minute for everybody; that was Sean at work. And then that collection of hotel room key pictures, just like a mantra. It was a privilege for him to travel around the world, keeping busy aronud the clock and in the meanwhile think of them, his princesses.
I was a newbie in professional cycling at that time, but he trusted me, giving me advice, opportunities, and constructive criticism; and how many people you introduced me: riders, photographers, insiders. Thanks, Sean!
Julie Timms, cycling fan
In 2011, my then 14 year old son and I joined the Twitter cycling community. I had the good fortune of meeting Anita, a wonderful southern woman who introduced me to her cycling family. She told me about Tour Chats, where I first met Sean. He found out my son Conner was a big BMC fan and took us under his wing.
We being newbies, had no clue of what a big deal he was in cycling. He never let on, to us he was simply Sean “YD” and a friend. We first met him in Bakersfield, CA where we met him at the BMC bus. He organized the meeting via DM on Twitter. He gave Conner a BMC cap that he still wears to this day. We have seen him every year at the US Pro race. He always made time to stop and chat especially with Conner. It’s sad to think, in just a few weeks with the race coming to our town, he won’t be here.
One funny story is from last year. In his excitement to see Sean, my son almost knocked over Sean’s bike. Thankfully our friend Viv saved the day and Sean never knew what was happening behind him.
Axel Merckx, manager of Axeon Hagens Berman
Sitting at the start of the 2013 Tour of California time trial in San Jose I was asked by a tall bald guy with BMC all over him if he could get a ride to the finish so he could be ready for the Tejay Van Garderen’s post-race interview.
I agreed under one condition: You have to cheer for Lawson Craddock on the way there.
That was my first real meeting with Sean Weide.
When a couple years later our marketing and sponsor relation, Nick Shuley, came and told me that it would be great if we could hire a press officer I asked him who he thought would fit in with our team. He heard that Sean was no longer going to be working for the BMC World Tour team and would be willing to talk to us.
I couldn’t come close to matching BMC’s salary but Sean agreed on working for us among other projects he had going.
From the first day working together at training camp it was as if he had been part of the team since day one. Always going over and beyond what was “expected” for his position, Sean was a guy that just loved cycling and his passion and dedication for the sport was very strong.
A proud father of five girls, Sean loved to tell stories about them. At the end of every year, he would give us a newsletter — just like an official press release — all about his daughters, their activities and a Q&A. If there is a best way for me to describe Sean it would be through his daughters and cycling.
May you rest in peace, Sean. Say hi to Chad if you run into him. I am sure you guys will talk cycling all day long.
Daniel Lee, SRAM and Zipp public relations content manager and author of “The Belgian Hammer”
Sean and I sat across the table from each other typing on our laptops and talking. We discussed cycling, writing, and family. My final in-person meeting with Sean Weide was in January at Axeon Hagens Berman training camp in Southern California. Sean was in full work mode with social media posts and rider promotions. Yet he also helped in small often-unseen ways. He cleared dishes from the breakfast table. That trip, he wowed our SRAM staff by quickly and efficiency organizing interviews with every Axeon rider and staff member. Every team member except himself – Sean so often stayed in the background as he advanced the sport he loved so deeply. The highlight of our last conversation, though, was him showing me the fun and creative Weide holiday newsletter in which he showcased his daughters, the loves of his life.
I first met Sean at the 2010 Philly race when he was with the BMC Racing Team. I was working on a book about young U.S. racers trying to break into European cycling, and he helped me every way he could to set up interviews, check grammar, and confirm facts. He even arranged for George Hincapie to write the foreword. Sean became a trusted friend I turned to for advice multiple times, including when I made a career change. In everything he did, Sean went above and beyond.
My first interaction with Sean was as an overeager 13 year old who wanted to write about cycling and interview its stars. I was inexperienced, but Sean gracefully took the time and patience to work with me and coordinate my first interview. Over the following three years, Sean continued help me during his time at BMC while also kindly and respectfully giving advice on how to be better. He was just that kind of person. His advice was greatly appreciated and helped me to improve a lot. It wasn’t until the 2014 US Nationals in Chattanooga when I met him in person. He was so kind, welcoming, and knowledgeable. I met him with my parents and we all recounted afterwards his friendliness and pleasantness that we had with him. The cycling world lost a great man this week. Rest In Peace, Sean, we all miss you.
I met Sean when he was press officer and I was team physician for Team Type 1 at Tour of Georgia. The support staff were working crazy long hours. I offered to take the athletes’ laundry to the laundromat one evening to give the soigneurs a break. I offered to take Sean’s laundry bag along as well. The laundromat was closing soon, and everyone’s mesh laundry bags were overstuffed and not drying quickly enough. I made the executive decision to take everyone’s kit, underwear etc, out of their mesh bags, memorize whose underwear was whose and get it all back in the correct bags once it was dry. This turned into a running private joke between Sean and me right up until couple days before he passed, the doctor folding the press officer’s whitey tighties. Sean was such a lovely man, consummate professional and loved his princesses with all his heart. Too young.