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Now burlier, capable of deadlifting more than 300 pounds, Jonathan Vaughters looks far removed from the man who once set speed records up America’s toughest climbs and guided GC contenders to grand tour victories. And in many ways, he is far removed from his life as a professional cyclist. “My job is to not look back; it’s to look forward,” says the general manager of EF Education-EasyPost, one of the longest-running outfits in professional cycling.
Also listen to: Bobby & Jens: Fabian Cancellara
Managing a pro cycling team has occupied the greater part of Vaughters’ waking hours since 2005. On this week’s episode of Bobby & Jens, he takes us through the broad strokes of his job. Learn about what it takes to keep a professional cycling team running for well over a decade and all the challenges this entails. “We’ve had to be really creative to keep the team going as long as we have,” he says.
There are many ins and outs of Vaughters’ job. He discusses the factors that go into creating a roster and identifying talent — and the arguably harder task of holding on to it against well-heeled teams with outsized budgets. To that point, Jens raises the question of borrowing the transfer fee system from professional soccer where a team poaching a player pays a fee to the team that developed the athlete. Listen to Vaughters’ thoughts on that system.
And then, there’s actually running the team during the season. This year has been particularly tough for EF. Vaughters discusses managing through constant setbacks this season with widespread illness, crashes, and a playbook for the season that has long since been thrown out and still needs to be rewritten.
There’s another challenge this year in the form of running, for the first time in the team’s history, a women’s team as well. The EF Education team boss takes us through how the women’s EF Education–Tibco–SVB team came to be, and what they were looking for in an existing team to partner with. He also fills us in on what they’re hoping to accomplish with women’s cycling and the accomplishments they’ve already achieved with the team.
Finally, the discussion turns to Paris-Roubaix this weekend, which Vaughter is no stranger to, as a manager with a rider who won the race in 2011 — Johan Vansummeren. He takes us through that race and explains why it’s one of his favorites. Plus, we get his predictions for the race — which feel refreshingly unbiased given that there’s no mention of his own riders.
Listen to this week’s episode for the full discussion.
“Bobby & Jens” is a weekly VeloNews podcast. It stars former pros Bobby Julich and Jens Voigt and features conversations with top athletes, coaches, emerging stars, and other newsmakers from the wide world of cycling. Subscribe now wherever you get your podcasts.