When I started telling people that the track world championships had been moved from Turkmenistan to Roubaix, the initial response I got was always some version of, “Man, I didn’t think you could run a track race on that velodrome.” Then I’d have to explain that not only does Roubaix have the most iconic velodrome in all of cycling, they also have a brand new indoor 250-meter track right next door.
For all of us on Team USA, a trip to Roubaix and a visit to the iconic velodrome seemed like a much easier trip than one to Turkmenistan, although I was slightly disappointed to miss a chance to visit somewhere I’d never have any other reason to go to.
With just an eight-week turnaround from the Olympics to the world championships, we went with a reduced squad, built more around the bunch racing and only composed of people that wanted to race again so quickly after the five-year cycle that led into Tokyo.
We had the newly crowned Olympic champion with Jennifer Valente as well as Ashton Lambie fresh off the individual pursuit world record and chasing the world title that’s eluded him the last four years.
I raced the Omnium at the Olympics but haven’t had a ton of exposure to high-level bunch racing before, so I competed in every opportunity I had in Roubaix, racing the Scratch, Points, Elimination, and Omnium races across four days.
Despite the pressure and heavy fatigue of four days of racing, I wanted to try and capture some of what happens inside the team on these trips and show the atmosphere of elite track racing. So here is a look inside the trip on a more personal level, some of the day-to-day minutia that defines periods of time away from home.
Getting to Europe from the States is never an easy task. We had a small team of seven for worlds, which was still enough to overwhelm most airport check-in desks.
We landed in Brussels and were met by staff from the USAC house in Sittard with vans to transport everything to Roubaix.
Ashton Lambie and Maddie Godby experiencing the strain of a transatlantic flight and some bike-box Tetris.
Mechanic Zane Godby doing his best to get everything into the back of the sprinter.
Jennifer Valente had a special paint job for her first race as Olympic champion.
Ashton Lambie is responsible for morale on the team, masked up in the track but still grinning.
Masks were required any time we weren’t on the bikes inside the velodrome.
Godby working on getting the bikes dialed with separate training and race chains.
Space can be pretty limited sharing a small hotel room in France. Ashton came up with a few interesting ways to get some mobility work in.
Kendall Ryan and Lily Williams kitting up for their Madison race.
Days at the track get long for everyone, especially the mechanics who are there first and leave last. Lunch has to be taken whenever the opportunity allows.
The trick to getting through races stress free is to make friends with the local liaison the UCI provides. We adopted ours and kept him well fed with M&Ms at the track.
The support staff play a key role throughout the racing. Felice is the person to ask if you want a coffee.
Kendall after what has to have been the busiest open training session in history.
The pits get pretty cramped. It’s a skill to work around your teammates and keep your stuff contained to your seat.
Lily Williams waiting to ride back to the hotel from the velodrome.
Ashton loves a bit of exploration on race trips and he led the charge to find something a little more interesting than the hotel catering.
Kendall Ryan more than a little excited with what Ashton billed as “one of the best pieces of cake I’ve ever had.”
Lily Williams enjoying a pastry.
Anytime we were out in pubic we were wearing masks. Getting into a coffee shop, we had to show our vaccination cards and make sure we were staying safe.
All my races took place in the evening, so most mornings I was riding rollers in the hallway to flush the legs and open my body up a bit.
Riding to and from the track provides a nice change from the roller hallway sets.
Zane Godby looking a bit tired after the last day of racing and packing everything up to head home.
USAC Coach Rob Stanley was equally keen to head home after a long week of racing.
Packing up in the velodrome parking lot an hour after my last race ended.
Newly crowned world champion Ashton Lambie making sure everyone knows fame won’t change him.