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      Victorious at Paris Roubaix

      Victorious at Paris Roubaix

      sonny colbrelli of bahrain victorious wins hell of the north

      Sonny Colbrelli became the first Italian to win the Paris-Roubaix Monument classic in 22 years. Caked in mud, he outsprinted his breakaway companions, Mathieu van der Poel of the Netherlands and Belgian Florian Vermeersch to take the victory on the finishing line in the famous Roubaix Velodrome.

      Sonny Colbrelli winning Paris Roubaix 2021 wearing Rudy Project Cutline sunglasses & Nytron aero helmet

      Credit: Bettini Photo

      The legendary course, often called ‘The Hell of the North’, started in Compiègne and covered a total distance of 257.7 kilometers. Though flat, the race is often marked by wind, and this year rain, both of which can make the 55 kilometers of cobblestones brutally treacherous. And indeed, the rain on race day created conditions not seen since 2002, the last muddy edition of the race. Soupy mud and deep puddles challenged the riders and crashes marred the peloton as it raced across northern France.

      Sonny Colbrelli racing Paris Roubaix 2021 wearing Rudy Project Cutline sunglasses & Nytron aero helmet

      Credit: Bettini Photo

      On the Front

      In the Mud


      Paris-Roubaix was another in a string of victories for Colbrelli this season. He won the Italian National Championship Road Race earlier this summer, and was also crowned European Champion just a few weeks ago. Claiming the Paris-Roubaix cobblestone trophy, however, is an accomplishment that has put him in truly esteemed company and ensures his place in cycling history for all time.

      “It was my first Roubaix, and I can’t still believe I won it,” said Colbrelli after the race. “This morning I couldn’t think about a win. I started without any pressure, I just wanted to have fun on a race I always dreamt about. I felt well and better kilometer after kilometer. So I wanted to try to take my opportunity, attacking maybe a bit early, but I learned watching past editions that it was a good moment to try. I worked well with Van der Poel, and I was also lucky not to have any bad luck, any puncture or mechanical. I almost crashed a few times, but I was very focused to stay up. Then I gave everything that I had left to take the win. I’m speechless. I can’t believe I won the Roubaix. I want to dedicate it to my family, the whole team and my fans. It has been a fantastic season for me so far.”

      Colbrelli's sunglasses & helmet

      Rudy roubaix history

      The last Italian to win Paris Roubaix was Andrea Tafi. The year was 1999, he was Italian National Champion, and the sunglasses were Rudy Project Tayo. To see more Rudy history moments, click here.

      Women Making History

      Women Making History

      The long-anticipated, inaugural Paris Roubaix Femmes is on! Paris-Roubaix is one of the oldest running races on the men's calendar, making its debut in 1896 and hosting 117 editions since. Paris-Roubaix has never held a women's edition before, but after 125 years the wait is finally over!! As with so many events, this race was initially scheduled to debut in 2020, but that race was cancelled due to Covid and is now rescheduled this year with an October start.

      Rudy Project sponsored Team TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank will be one of the teams competing. "Being part of the inaugural women’s Paris Roubaix is something really special for the whole team," team director Rachel Hedderman said. "Not just the riders but also the staff, everyone involved, feels the magnitude of what we are a part of.”

      The Course

      The race will start in the city of Denain finishing with one and a half laps around the Roubaix's velodrome to crown the first Queen of ‘The Hell of the North’. They will face 116.5 kms of racing including 17 cobbled sectors, totalling 29.2 kms of punishing pavé. In addition to the cobbles, weather is shaping up to be a factor in the race as well, with the forecast calling for rain. In muddy conditions, the peloton will have a tremendous battle ahead on the Mons-en-Pévèle and the Carrefour de l'Arbre, two of the five famous ‘five-star’ cobbled pavé sectors located along the men's Paris Roubaix parcours.

      Who to Watch

      The Team TIBCO-SVB rider to look for in the closing kilometers will be current United States National Champion Lauren Stephens. Wearing the stars-and-stripes jersey and matching Spectrum helmet will give her a lift, but more importantly she is also an experienced gravel racer. She has raced to more than one podium in events like Unbound (formerly Dirty Kanza), SBT GRVL, and Mid South Gravel of which she said, “It was a mud pit...the longest day of my life.” That will be valuable experience for taking on a muddy Paris-Roubaix.

      Stephens will have several teammates to support her. Fellow American Kristen Faulkner from Alaska is no stranger to cool, damp conditions and has ridden strongly this season. Dutch powerhouse Nina Kessler has raced in northern Europe her entire career and will be a key player in the team’s strategy on this flat, windswept course. Veronica Ewers, Nicole Frain, and Tanja Erath round out the squad.

      Nina Kessler & Lauren Stephens

      "We've become better every race riding together as a team, which helps our positioning into critical sections," Kristen Faulkner said. "Positioning will be essential for Paris Roubaix because the roads are narrow and flat, which means there won't be much opportunity to move forward if one of us is stuck in the back. The cobbles are pretty gnarly, so I imagine there will be mechanicals throughout the peloton, and it is important to stay towards the front, so none of us get caught behind a standstill.

      "This will be an iconic race with many fans out to watch the first-ever women's edition, so I expect to have a lot of fun too."

      How to watch

      The race will be broadcast live on Eurosport 1 and Global Cycling Network at 3:15 p.m. CEST (6:15 a.m. PST). Follow the race and cheer on Team TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank!

      Team TIBCO-SVB rider in Paris-Roubaix Femmes locker room

      Rudy Project Goes Beyond Giving Back

      Rudy Project Goes Beyond Giving Back

      The motivation behind a 15+ year partnership with USA Triathlon

      Most business partnerships begin as a calculation, as each party hopes that it receives as much out of the relationship as it gives. Adam Grant, an organizational psychologist who wrote Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success, would call the partners “matchers,” where each side is willing to give as long as their partners reciprocate. When Rudy Project North America partnered with USA Triathlon 15 years ago, becoming the governing body’s official helmet and eyewear partner, the motivation was purely business-oriented: USA Triathlon needed gear and financial support, and Rudy Project needed an avenue through which to promote its products to a large and enthusiastic audience. Over time, however, as most relationships do, the partnership matured and deepened, and today both USA Triathlon and Rudy Project seek to support each other’s missions instead of simply focusing on their own self-interests. The relationship is a true partnership.

      “Rudy Project has been a trusted partner for the past 15 years, continuing to innovate and consistently turning out high-performance, cutting-edge gear. Just as importantly, Rudy Project has been an invaluable partner in providing access and service to USA Triathlon members while supporting USA Triathlon’s key programs and initiatives, such as our Power Within marketing campaign to reposition the sport of triathlon,” said Victoria Brumfield, USA Triathlon Chief of Staff and Chief Sport Development Officer. “Through storytelling with Power Within, we are communicating to current and future triathletes how inspiring, empowering, and transformative triathlon can be, and partners such as Rudy Project give us the ability to deliver that message.”

      The Power Within initiative, launched in 2020, aims to communicate the unifying message of the governing body, catching the attention of potential participants, young or old, and drawing them into the sport.

      Rudy Project sunglasses and bike helmets worn by two young girls

      “Triathlon serves to inspire, empower, and transform the power within all of us,” the initiative promises, and the sport made good on that promise, as evidenced by the experience of Brad Shapiro, Principal of Rudy Project North America. “I took part in my first triathlon six years ago,” Shapiro says. “And triathlon transformed my sense of health, well-being, and personal identity, and has introduced me to an entirely new community with whom I have become friends. That personal experience is why I am so passionate about the sport and supporting USA Triathlon in its quest to grow, starting at the youth level.

      What does that support look like, fueled by a belief in USA Triathlon’s power to transform? Rudy Project, during its 15-year partnership with USA Triathlon, has delivered:

      • Financial support to the governing body
      • An annual product allotment of sunglasses and helmets, which USA Triathlon uses for its athlete development program, event prizes, and fundraising efforts
      • USA Triathlon co-branded helmets and sunglasses (see below); a portion of those sales goes directly to USA Triathlon
      • Attendance at many of USA Triathlon’s marquee events, such as the annual Toyota Age Group National Championships
      • Support for USA Triathlon’s efforts to grow youth participation in the sport

      That last bullet point, growing youth participation, carries significant weight for USA Triathlon and the entire triathlon industry. We know triathletes are loyal and are staying with the sport as they age – that makes it even more important and valuable to capture the attention of our youngest generation now.

      While the COVID-19 pandemic adversely impacted youth participation (somewhat obviously) across all sports, we’re already seeing a swift return to the sport as more than 1,000 athletes starting at age 7 competed in the Zone3 Youth and Junior Nationals and a pair of teenagers won the overall men’s and women’s sprint distance titles at Toyota Age Group National Championships this past August. And USA Triathlon, with Rudy Project’s support, has started several initiatives in the past five years to expand interest in triathlon at the youth level, including:

      • The American Development Model (ADM), which creates a framework for coaching youth athletes, focusing first on enjoyment and engagement before transitioning to dedicated training and competition
      • The NCAA Women’s Varsity program, which began in 2014 and has expanded to 37 colleges and universities nationwide; the NCAA program has lifted club triathlon at colleges and universities, too: over 120 collegiate club programs exist across the United States, with more appearing each year
      • The youth Splash and Dash series, which saw its third straight year of record participation in 2019, with 2,532 youth athletes competing in 50 events nationwide

      Ask any kid what they’re excited about when they begin a new sport, and somewhere in the first few sentences you will probably hear something about their new uniform, or the stuff the new sport requires for participation. In helping USA Triathlon standardize the look of their youth program through co-branded helmets and sunglasses, Rudy Project cements the image of triathlon for kids, conveying the message that the sport is cool and fun, and robust and durable - a pastime they can pursue for the rest of their lives.

      To some degree, one can look at any business partnership cynically: a calculated play aimed at leveraging the partner’s money, participants, marketing reach, or image for one’s own gain, but to believe that is to ignore how some relationships mature and grow over time. Are you the same person you were when you began your current job? Your best friendship? Your life partnership? Consider how the other person or entity has changed due to your influence: are they kinder, more capable, stronger, better prepared to meet the challenges they face? If so, then congratulations—you’ve found a true partnership, where both parties improve each other, acknowledging the benefits each receives, but prouder of the impacts their generosity has made possible. That is the relationship today between Rudy Project and USA Triathlon, a partnership that benefits each, certainly, but contributes something more to the sport itself: carrying that feeling of possibility, adventure, and excitement we all felt at our first races to an ever-widening audience of budding triathletes.

      Rudy Project & USA Triathlon Partner Products

      The Best of the Best, When They're at Their Best

      The Best of the Best, When They're at Their Best

      “Yo Yo Yo” Sam Long is mature beyond his years

      Sam Long, the young triathlon star from Boulder, Colorado known for his “Yo Yo Yo” salutations, his unblushing “Big Unit” nickname, and his public and positive rivalry with Lionel Sanders qualified for this year’s Ironman World Championships way back in 2019 when he won Ironman Chattanooga, but between May and June of this year, he almost decided to turn down his slot. “I sat down with my coach and said ‘I would rather skip Kona entirely and focus on St. George with what just happened at Tulsa,’ and that’s how Coeur d’Alene was born. I needed to prove to myself that I can compete at an Ironman.” For anyone unfamiliar with triathlon news coverage, Long proved that and more on an historically hot day in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho in late June, riding away from Sanders and then dropping the Canadian again on the run, as he went on to record his second Ironman victory and validate (in his own mind) his place at the top of long-distance triathlon.

      An Off Day in Tulsa

      Tulsa, to wind the clock back a little bit to late May, certainly hadn’t gone badly, but the 13th place finish—even in a championship field—stood out from Long’s consistent climb to the top of results over the past three seasons. “I had a great swim,” Long recalls, “probably my best swim yet in, like, low 52 or something, and I still ran 2:56. Lots of people said things like ‘Sam had a terrible day, but it was still an 8:08 on an off-day in a strong field.” Long had focused on Tulsa, though, as a chance to see where he would finish against athletes he would likely see in Hawaii, and the result shook his confidence.

      Long spent most of the day leading a chase pack of almost 20 athletes, surging many times in an effort to bridge across to the front group, and by the time he came to the run he had spent a few too many bullets. “I was frustrated, but ultimately what I took out of Tulsa is that it was my own fault for how I raced. I let the race play out the way it did rather than put my own stamp on it. To be honest, what I would do now would be just climb off my bike, let that group go, and then just do my own thing.”

      Tweaking for Coeur d’Alene

      Between Tulsa and Coeur d’Alene, Long and his coach, Ryan Bolton, sat down to discuss the race and to plan some changes. Bolton assured his charge that he would compete at Kona, but Long wanted to know. “‘You don’t have to race an Ironman,’ my coach told me,” Long says. “‘I’ve seen your numbers, I know what you can do,’ but I was like ‘I don’t really care.’ I need to know it in my heart and in my feelings, not just that I’ve had good Ironman races in the past and that my fat burning numbers are good. That stuff, to an emotional athlete, doesn’t mean anything.” Long’s first change between Tulsa and CDA was his mental approach. As a big, brash, loud American, many don’t associate an intellectual and emotionally intelligent approach with Long, but he has done extensive mental training with his mother, Bette Long, psychologist and Ph.D., and on his own. As Long has improved, he’s discovered that he needs to address his mental game in parallel with his physical training. “When I get better in performance, I’ve found that I need to make sure I also level up in mindset. If I don’t do that, my next race is usually a bad one. Expectations change, there’s more attention from age groupers and the media, and being aware of that and preparing for it makes me better when the gun goes off.”

      In addition to his mindset, Long addressed a strength limitation that held him back at Tulsa, a painful lower back. “I’d been arching my back while swimming, and I was in a lot of pain by the time the run came around, so I shifted from traditional weight training to 20 minutes of core work each day, and I think that helped quite a bit.” Finally, he and Bolton shifted the nature of Long’s taper to more accurately reflect the demands of an Ironman. As a Big Unit with a significant amount of muscle mass, Long can mobilize large anaerobic reserves in his training and racing. That ability dumps rocket fuel on his short- and middle-distance racing, but can hobble him late in an Ironman. “Instead of 3x20’ at 370 watts where I’m taking in lots of carbohydrates, we’ll make it 3x20’ at 300 watts with limited carbohydrate intake,” he describes.

      Sam Long holding finishing tape as he wins Coeur d’Alene triathlon

      The result? Long “paced, paced, paced” himself to a patient Coeur d’Alene where he put Sanders on the ropes, forcing the Canadian to chase for the first nine miles of the run. “I was running 6:07/mile, and he had to run 5:54 in 100° heat for nine miles to catch me. Lo and behold, what happened? He started to struggle with GI distress.” Long went on to set the course record in those extreme temperatures, a testament to his racing maturity.

      An Off-Road Holiday

      After Coeur d’Alene, Long went on a short holiday to Crested Butte, Colorado, where he...swam and biked and ran. When you love your job, why not do it on your breaks? “There was no training plan at all. I rode my mountain bike every day, did some trail running, and swam in this high-altitude lake at 10,000 feet.” Long’s first entrée into endurance sport was on the mountain bike, which surprises those who don’t know him. “When I was ten years old, I didn’t really like riding my bike,” Long remembers. “I liked going fast downhill, so I would ride like a maniac to get the uphills done as fast as possible. Turns out I was training pretty well for a 10-year-old!” That holiday led directly into Xterra Beaver Creek, one of the oldest off-road races on the North American circuit, and one that sat conveniently in Long’s backyard of the Colorado Rockies. What happened? Well, he didn’t win, but he did come in second, along Xterra royalty Sam Osbourne and 7-time Beaver Creek champion Josiah Middaugh. Long raced with his dad, Big Unit, Sr., saying “Truthfully, it makes me feel like everybody else out there. The result was great, but I was there to love racing and feel the love for triathlon.” Next up, Long has the double World Championship schedule, with 70.3 Worlds next month and then Kona after that. His 2021 season thus far? “It’s been going well. I’ve seen that I can compete on the world stage and really be up there with the best of the best when they’re at the best of their best.” It’s been 19 years since an American last stood atop the podium in Hawaii, but a confident Sam Long wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility.

      sam's go long gear

      Rudy Project Teams Double Up at Nats

      Rudy Project Teams Double Up at Nats

      TIBCO-SVB Women’s Pro Cycling’s Lauren Stephens and Rally Cycling’s Joey Rosskopf claim jerseys at USA Cycling National Championships

      Cyclists often say that pain is temporary, but glory is forever. To extend that saying, glory fades, but a champion’s jersey hangs on one’s wall forever, a palpable reminder of the effort expended and a great victory claimed. Larger wins abound than a country’s national championships, but to riders of that particular country, no other result will carry as much weight as pulling on a jersey adorned with the colors of their flag. Last month, two Rudy Project teams claimed the top step at the USA Cycling National Championships, capping two races of near-perfect execution.

      Lauren Stephens Crushes the Competition

      In the women’s race, Team TIBCO-SVB played their cards perfectly, putting USA cyclocross champion Clara Honsinger in the early breakaway. Honsinger had countered the initial attack of another TIBCO-SVB rider, Emily Newsom, at the close of the third lap. Four other riders joined Honsinger and maintained a lead of almost two minutes until the waning kilometers of the race, when the breakaway, punished by the heat of Knoxville and the circuit’s unrelenting hills, began to come apart with three laps to go. Honsinger remained at the front with one other rider, while Stephens launched a bid to cross the gap. “I looked back and saw that Lauren was coming across,” Honsinger recalls. “I sat up until she arrived and then drove it as hard as I could to the final climb. From there she crushed it on her own and stayed away to the line.” Three other riders (Kristen Faulkner, Honsinger, and Newsom) stayed inside the top twenty, making the race a true team success along with Stephens’ solo victory.

      “We were amazing today,” Stephens says. “We had Clara [Honsinger] in the break from the beginning and we just made the race hard. I came across to Clara and she held me into that final climb. And then I just unleashed.”

      Joey Rosskopf Counters in Closing Kilometers

      On the men’s side, Rally Cycling’s Joey Rosskopf claimed the iconic team’s first national championship with a late attack from a rapidly dwindling field. Rosskopf’s victory, like Stephens’ on the women’s side, was set up by a true team effort, as Kyle Murphy attacked early and stayed off the front until the final few laps of the 13 kilometer circuit. Murphy’s heroics allowed Rally’s other contenders Rosskopf, Gavin Mannion, and Nathan Brown to sit and wait for their moment. The field in Knoxville was one of the largest and deepest ever assembled, with 146 riders on the start line, hailing from some of the biggest teams in the world. Team Bike Exchange, Education First-Nippo, and Team DSM (WorldTour teams all) placed riders in the top ten, but weren’t able to defeat Rally’s team tactics. “We had guys up front all day long,” recalls Rosskopf. “Every time a move went one of us was in it. I can’t believe Kyle’s race—to be off the front all day long and still finish third—that’s just unbelievable.” The pace of the race was unrelenting, with only 28 riders making it to the finish line.

      “Sometimes, when there is a decisive feature on a lapped course everyone is afraid of it, which can neutralize the race,” says Robin Carpenter, “fresh” off his 6th place finish at Unbound 200 in early June. “That didn’t happen in this race—the hill was the main focal point of the race. So we played a numbers game, trying to have as many strong riders represented at the front all day long. National championships races are unpredictable, so we didn’t have one leader—we had three or four guys saving themselves for the end of race: me, Joey, Ben, and Gavin. Everyone else was playing the numbers game, and they did a great job of staying out front, not feeling asleep, and making all of the splits.”

      An early move saw Rally well represented, with Colin Joyce and Magnus Sheffield making the selection. Murphy launched his all-day affair after Joyce and Sheffield were brought to heel with 138 kilometers to go, and when Education First-Nippo brought the gap down to under a minute, Rally helped shatter the peloton, allowing Rosskopf and Mannion to bridge the gap and join Murphy. With just over a lap to go, Rosskopf made his first move, attempting to solo home for the win. After ten kilometers off the front the breakaway reeled him in, and it looked like the responsibility would fall to Mannion or Murphy to defeat the other riders.

      Rosskopf has won two other jerseys before, in the time trial in 2017 and 2018. The plan had been for him to win solo all along, but when he was brought back to the group he wasn’t sure he’d have the legs. “He saw the other leaders looking at each other with 6.5k to go and decided to attack again,” said Clark Sheehan, Rally’s DS. “They didn’t follow. It was crisp and clean.”

      Rally Cycling has “been trying to win this race for 15 years,” says Jonas Carney, the team’s performance director. “We finally did it. The guys rode a superb race. Kyle Murphy was an absolute animal, and we couldn’t have done it without his amazing ride.”

      Rosskopf and Stephens will now wear their stars-and-bars jerseys in road races for the next year. Rudy Project congratulates the two riders and teams on their victories, proud to support athletes at the highest levels of the sport.

      Choices of Champions