PIRMIN LANG - FROM THE SADDLE TO SEAT.
FIRST RACE FOR SRA AND ITS FOUNDER.... AS DIRECTEUR SPORTIF.
Pirmin recently wrote the last page of his pro cyclist career of 8 years.
But this was just to start a new book, in the same collection, as founder and sport boss of the Swiss Racing Academy.
Going from rider to sports director (DS) is no easy task, and if you add to this the pressure of a first race with a new team it becomes an event
– which he tells us about in the following interview.
Piru, first race for the team, first race as DS, lots of first... how was it?
‘’Yes, it was such a momentum, a lot of new responsibilities, lots to think about and also a personal challenge to serve the team the best that I could.
Prior to the start I was running all over and it was quite stressful, but once all the bibs were on the jerseys and I was sitting in the car with the mechanic, I calmed down.
It’s funny, I spent so many hours on the bike, training and racing, that being comfortably sitting in a car and giving assistance and directions to our riders was somehow natural, but also strange and still kind of new at the same time. Thankfully (laughing) at the Elite level radios for riders are not allowed, so I only had to focus on the race radio, otherwise it would have been too much info at the same time.
Tell us about ‘’Annemasse-Bellegarde’’ and how you prepare for such races?
‘’Annemasse-Bellegarde’’ is a classic French Elite National race.
First 15 Km are flat but then the course is a ‘’leg breaking’’ 156 Km up and down all day, it’s not an easy race.
We prepare all the races in the same way. We plan them, secure an invitation or subscription, get the official info from the road book as soon as possible and then we try to gather as much information as possible from our riders, our entourage and friends, and in this particular case, I raced it also in the past, so I had some memories. Additionally, two of our riders did recognition rides earlier in the week, that was very useful to understand the key parts and challenges of ‘’Annemasse-Bellegarde’’.
So, once we understand precisely the profile of the race, we set up a tactic and strategy with our riders, it’s a collaboration.
The day of the race, we adapt it for the last briefing, considering the weather, the form, etc.
The better you are prepared, the less stress there is and the higher your chances are to perform. Like everything in life, you also need a little luck.
We had a visit from SRA friend and french champion Jérôme Coppel that day at the start, he was kind enough to have a chat with the team and he was right about one point: most of the team lining up (Chambéry, Etupes, Nice, etc.) already had 6 or 7 races on their early 2018 agenda, for us it was the first of the season, and that makes a difference. We knew we had to concentrate and work hard to get into the high tempo.
Still, the most important, on all races, is to ride as a team. It’s very rare to win alone in this sport.
Were you satisfied by this first racing weekend?
Overall yes, I’m already very proud of our SRA youngsters. It was full of learnings, on both sides, for the team, the staff and about our riders.
Making a team run smoothly is a never-ending task, we are a newly born organization and not everything is set yet, we are aware of it.
Of course, we don’t come on races to train, but we are also realistic that on some we can perform and target a win and that on some other ones,
it will be tougher.
You learn a lot about the state of mind and physical capacities of the athletes on such races. At the beginning, it was all flat, I didn’t even see our guys from the car, but once we got to the mountain part, the peloton exploded and you could easily tell who was ready and who still needed some training and a little time to get into racing mode.
Communication is crucial in cycling races, I need to understand what’s happening at all time, but even more important, the riders need to exchange
and always make sure they ‘’feel’’ and know where the others are and what work they can provide to their teammates.
It’s a 160 km long per 8 meters’ large game that lasts about 5 hours. You better be with your boys than alone to play this one.
The more rouleur and sprinter type of guys gave their best in the first part to protect and help the team and Damian, Fabian and Matthias pushed until the last meters to finish in a nice 19th position for Reutimann, the best placed SRA rider that day.
We still have a lot of work to do, but I would by lying to say I’m not happy with this start. It was race number one and we still have many more to come.
I’ll do and we’ll all do our best to be in perpetual evolution.’’