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The Victory Brewing Pro Cycling Team Profile
 
By Marianne Werz O'Brien
Date: 6/22/2004
The Victory Brewing Pro Cycling Team Profile
 

Summary of the Victory Brewing teams season so far

The ladies of Victory Brewing started their season under a little black cloud with their first races marred by crashes and mechanicals, but the skies have cleared and it’s been smooth sailing for the past couple months!

In Pomona Valley Victory Brewing racers landed on the podium three times. Nicole Demars won the 5th stage, and Gina Grain took 3rd in both stages 3 and 4. In Redlands again Gina took 3rd on a stage.

La Vuelta de Bisbee was Brooke Ourada’s turn to shine! Brooke won the prologue, and placed 2nd in stage 3 and the final overall GC. Sandy Espeseth placed 3rd on two stages.

Then came the Athen’s Twilight, first stop on the American Criterium Championship Series and Gina Grain was on the podium again in 3rd. Not one to settle happily for less than an outright victory, Gina won the second race in the series - the CSC Invitational!

At the Tour of Gila Brooke was once again proving she is a serious GC contender in stage races by placing second in stage 2 and in the overall! Lauren Franges decided it was her turn to take the top step of the podium at the Housatonic Criterium, and then Johanna Buick stepped up to the plate in a big way. At TriPeaks Johanna won two stages on her way to sealing the overall victory!

The girls raced magnificently in the Liberty Classic, where Gina placed 2nd. Most recently Victory Brewing strutted their stuff at Nature Valley where Gina won the second stage and the overall Sprinters classification.

Gina Grain is currently leading the Women’s Prestige Cycling Series Sprint competition, and is ranked second in the women’s Pro Cycling Tour. She is also ranked third in the American Criterium Championship Series, with teammate Lauren Franges in 5th.


Lauren at Housatonic, courtesy of Victory Brewing website

Team Director Mike Tamayo

Mike, one thing I noticed immediately when looking at the bio’s of your riders is the wide age range.

“I don’t focus on age when I look for additions to the team. I look instead for women who will fit with the chemistry of the group. We don’t have a single rider focus at Victory Brewing. We have many women who can make the podium at races – Johanna, Gina, Sandy. Nicole has been getting a lot of exposure, Brooke has been riding really well and getting on the podium in Alabama. It’s always a team effort, so because of that it’s more important to select riders who will get along, so they will be willing to devote 100% to one another.”

“When we hired Brooke, she’s young in cycling but our thinking was long range. Our thought was that we could perhaps develop her into a future Lyne Bessette, not only a GC rider but also a rider who can perform solidly all year. Brooke has already proven this year that she can be a GC rider by taking second at Gila.”

“Our team captain Sandy Espeseth is 41 years old, but with her you get a lot of experience. Sandy has six years of racing under her belt but prior to that she was a professional basketball player! She comes from a teamwork oriented sport, whereas several of our girls come from running backgrounds. Sandy is able to instill the teamwork ethic into these girls, show them how to function as one. She’s a strong leader, and she keeps everyone focused on the team effort.”

You had a rough start to the season this year.

“Oh yes – but it was good for us. The adversity brought the girls closer together. The problems actually helped the team. When “Plan A” falls apart, you have to come together, change goals and go for “Plan B”. For instance - when your GC leader crashes out you have to be able to quickly switch gears, and the girls learned how to do that.”

Mike’s signature Victory Brewing beverage? Workhorse Porter, of course!


Nicole, Sandy, Lauren, Gina, Emma, Brooke, Kirsten, and Johanna
Photo by Marianne Werz OBrien

Meet the Ladies of Victory Brewing

Sandy Espeseth
Racing Age: 41
Date of Birth: March 28, 1963
Born: Maple Ridge, BC Canada

Former Canadian National Champion, Sandy is in her 7th season road racing. She started racing the year after a solo 10 month long cycle touring trip to New Zealand and Australia where she rode over 10,000 Kilometers. Sandy says that seemed like a lot at the time but now just seems like a decent amount of base miles!

Prior to cycling she was a professional basketball player, first with the Canadian National team and then in Germany. Her experience in team sports parlays well into her position as Captain of the Victory Brewing squad. As she told me, “Cycling is very much a team sport. Sometimes you don’t realize how much knowledge you do have to share, until you start working with your teammates.”

Sandy has a wealth of experience to share. She has raced the women’s Tour de France, the Fleche Wallone, the World Championships, the Tour de l’Aude and many more races on the European calendar. Just last year she raced la Fleche Wallone and Amstel Gold for the Canadian National Team.


Lauren Franges, Gina Grain, Sandy Espeseth photo by Marianne Werz OBrien

How do you decide how to split your time between racing with the Canadian National team and your trade team?

“In order for it to work well there has to be communication between the trade team and the national team. It was a little bit of a problem this year. Mike was in touch with the Canadian National team early on, asking them what races they would need us for, but got no answer. So when it came time for the Tour de l’Aude and the National team wanted several women from our team to go, Mike was in a quandry. He had already committed to some races here and as I had done the Tour de l’Aude before I stayed behind to race here.”

Sandy describes the team in her diaries.
The team dynamic is great this year, the long hours in the van as we head to and fro all over the state pass pretty easily and we genuinely enjoy one another’s company. We are fortunate to have such a compatible group. The mix of cultures, experiences, accents and AGES make for some pretty good humour- there have been several times I’ve had tears in my eyes and a sore stomach from laughing so hard. Brooke is the unintentional, “accidental” comedienne in the bunch, simply by sharing her day to day experiences with us!

The “accidental” comedienne? Can you give us an example?

“One of the funniest stories Brooke has told us was about the first bicycle race she was in, since she came from a running background she pinned her numbers on her front and one on her back! I mean, it never occurred to her that on a bike it would be different than running.”

You list your hobbies as cooking and drinking beer?

“Also gardening when I’m home, and baking bread too!”

How much are you home during the racing season?

“I go on the road for three or four weeks and then I’m home for two, then on the road again. My season ends in late September and then I’m home until the beginning of March.”

September through February is not exactly prime gardening season in Canada, is it?

“No! Actually I’m not doing much gardening now because I hate to go home and find my plants have shriveled up and died from neglect!”

In the off season Sandy works in a small veterinary clinic as an Animal Health Technician.

Sandy’s signature Victory Brewing beverage? Victory Festbier- Seductively smooth, this medium-bodied amber beauty is akin to the great Oktoberfest beers of Munich. All German hops make this lager true to style. Patient cold aging makes it wonderfully smooth on the finish.

Gina Grain
Racing Age: 30
Date of Birth: June 16, 1974
Born: Lachine, Quebec Canada

Always physically active, Gina turned to cycling after suffering a knee injury that ended her soccer career. When she started racing Gina was a mountain biker. She only turned to road racing in 2001, and the next year she was selected to be a member of the Canadian National Cycling Team.

Gina is a registered kinesiologist in British Columbia, and she does exercise therapy/ strength and conditioning, and ergonomic consulting in the off- season.

In her bio Gina says, “It is a great field to work in as I can share my knowledge and experience to help motivate others to live an active lifestyle or help them return to activity after an injury. The great thing about working in this field is that you are giving somebody else the skill and knowledge that they can use for the rest of their lives.”

I wish I had a photo of Gina’s grin as she enthusiastically described the action in pack sprints! This girl is a firecracker who clearly loves cycling with a passion!


Gina
Photo by Marianne Werz OBrien

I haven’t seen you wearing the national champions jersey at the crits. Aren’t you the Canadian Crit National Champion?

“I won the race, but as of last year the women’s criterium is no longer a National Championship event, so they no longer give a Canadian National jersey for the women’s winner.”

Going into the Sommerville crit you were the leader in the American Criterium Championship Series. After Sommerville you were ranked third. What happened in that race?”

“Everything was going great initially. The team was working really hard, actively covering attacks and protecting me. The intermediate sprint came - that was worth $500 which is more than the finish is worth at Sommerville. We contested that, and I got the prime - which felt great! I knew where to go, and what to do to take the win and then with two laps to go I got a flat. The free laps for mechanicals had ended already, so I knew the race was over for me. I pulled into the pit and got a wheel change and just finished the race. There were 88 people starting the race, and only 47 finished.”

You also race as part of the Canadian National team.

"The Canadian National team is good because they give lots of riders the chance to race overseas. They send different riders to the events. It’s a little different than the US system that way."

"Canada sends some of the same core people to the World Cup events and international races but they do give other riders a chance to filter in there and get the experience. I really respect the association for that, for giving us the opportunity to go over there. Without the national team backing us and sending us, it would be really hard to get a chance to race internationally. The experience racing over there is just so much different than racing in America."

How so?

"It’s different because of the courses, the roads, the cobbles. It’s a lot more technical. They have narrow little roads winding through medieval villages. It’s very technical, which I love. The more technical and difficult the better!”

“The riders are more aggressive. It’s hard to compare the two... I don’t want to make it sound like racing here is a walk in the park either. The riders stateside are good and the racing is hard, but the style is different. For instance in the first stage of the Tour de l’Aude there were crazy crosswinds gusting at 75k per hour, in the first kilometers a rider attacks, and then another rider attacks and the peloton responds. But here people would settle in and say “ooh, there’s a big crosswind”. We would go a bit easier. Typically it’s just a lot more aggressive right off the bat over there.”

“Of course, there’s also a bit of culture shock. The traveling between stages and the transfers can be difficult sometimes. The transfers sound like such a small thing – before I did stage races in Europe I thought “So, you get to drive and see the beautiful countryside” but in reality you are too tired to even notice it.”

“In the peloton over there they say that if you’re not going forward, you are going backwards. If you are not constantly focused on staying in the top twenty riders then you are losing ground because people are constantly fighting for position throughout the race. Here with the nice open roads you can sit comfortably for ten minutes or so just chilling out and not lose position. In Europe if you rest for even a minute you can be spit out of the pack.

“I actually tested that out once too. One time when we were just rolling around, I thought I am just going to relax for a moment and the next thing I knew I was fifteen riders back!”

You started out racing mountain bikes. Do you think your mountain biking experience helps you on the road?

“Mountain biking is the best background a road racer can have. Your bike handling skills are more advanced after racing single track, your balance and reaction times are better.”

Pack sprints look like a boxing match on wheels to me. Is that an accurate description?

“Yeah, that’s pretty much the way it is. There’s not a lot of headbutting going on in the women’s sprints, but there is a lot more physical activity than most people realize. I love it! I really love it! Pack sprints are dangerous, it’s a dangerous time of the race but I love it. People fighting for position, literally.”

“To help me prepare for the jostling on sprints and work on balance my coach has me ride on the rollers while he throws one of those big exercise balls at me! He bounces it off my shoulder, hip, even my head as I ride!”

NO WAY!

“Oh, yeah!”

Gina’s signature Victory Brewing beverage? St. Victorious is a dark, rich lager of sublime complexity and character. Long, cold aging mellows the strong temperament of this subtle beer. Celebrate with a warming draft of St.Victorious Doppelbock!

Emma Rickards
Racing Age: 31
Date of Birth: November 17, 1973
Born: Manchester, United Kingdom

Emma was a national class lightweight rower with a career in education, teaching Physical Education and Science at a secondary school level. She injured her right wrist weight training in September 1998 and surgery was required to repair damaged cartilage and bone. As she puts it in her bio, “This little inconvenience put me out of action for a couple of months and during this time I decided to take up cycling, PURELY as a method of keeping fit while I was unable to row. It soon became apparent that my rowing days were over as cycling sparked an interest I was keen to explore.”

In July 2001, Emma became a full time cyclist and began to seriously pursue a road cycling career. In her diary Emma recounts her feelings on being sent up to race in this years Montreal World Cup.

I am classified as one of the sprinters on the team (climbing is not my forte) but some recent and interesting circumstances have brought me to Canada and this particular race. I think Sandy was quietly pleased, as it enabled her to stay back with Lauren and Gina to race Bike Jam, Clarendon and Somerville all crits that are right up my alley.


Emma Photo by Scott Schaffrick

So, Emma - what was the Montreal WC race like for you?

“It was actually very good. It was hard, but I finished it, which was a bit of a surprise! I think going into it with no expectations helped. Knowing my one job was to look after Brooke, make sure she was in good position before the climb. So I didn’t worry about the race so much, and when I lost contact with the peloton I found out there were only three laps to go. I’m actually glad I did it.”

Why do you list the Liberty Cup as your favorite race when you also freely state that hills are not your forte?

“I think it’s because of the atmosphere. Last year was the first year I raced it, and it was the biggest race I’d ever been in. Just the size of the peloton, and the crowds on the wall, the deafening noise, the energy. It puts so much adrenaline in your legs that you say to yourself “I’m NOT going to get dropped on this hill!” The crowd noise just really pushes you up the hill. It’s just fabulous!”

“I’ve only been riding for four years, I was a rower on the national team before. When you’re on the river you never hear the crowds. I had an idea of what the crowds could be like from watching the Tour de France on the telly, but it’s really spectacular to experience it myself.”

“It’s so nice to go to races as part of a team as well. Previously I raced solo, but now when we go to a race I know my teammates are there for me. You can try different things and know you have teammates there to support you and back you up. It makes you work harder in those races as well because you know other people are counting on you.”

Emma’s signature Victory Brewing beverage? Scarlet Fire - Exotic yet mild lager... Sublime complexity and intriguing malt character glow from this traditional amber lager. Overall mild and mellow, this one's a fascinating treat!

Lauren Franges
Racing Age: 21
Date of Birth: October 25, 1983
Born: Bethlehem, Pa United States

Always active in sports, Lauren started racing at Trexlertown when she was thirteen years old. She has earned four US National Championship titles already, and has won the Meiji Roech title three times. (Meiji Roech is an honor given to the first American U23 racer to finish the Liberty Classic race.) According to her teammates, Lauren is the level headed one, and from what I’ve seen of her I agree.


Lauren Photo by Chris OBrien

Earlier this season Lauren’s years of track racing paid off in the Tour of Connecticut. She got into a two woman break on the first lap, and stayed away, sprinting to victory in the end! In 2002 she won Superweek International, in 2003 she won at Wendy’s International Grandview. I suspect we will hear much about Lauren’s racing exploits in the coming years.

Lauren – what can you tell us about your training this year?

“This year I’ve changed my schedule some. I’m racing less than before. I think previously I raced too much, so I was more tired. Now that I’m racing less I feel fresher. Racing is good training for me, but I think it was good that we’ve backed my schedule off a bit, giving me a little more time to rest and to have some fun.”

Plans for the immediate future?

“After our next couple of races I get two weeks off! I’m going to go to the beach, relax, go shopping, and spend a lot of time in bed sleeping!”

Lauren’s signature Victory Brewing beverage? St. Boisterous, the harbinger of Spring, a refreshing draft of warmth and mirth.

Brooke Ourada
Racing Age: 27
Date of Birth: June 2, 1977
Born: Boise, Idaho

Brooke ran cross-country and track in college, where she graduated with a BS in Exercise and Sport Science. She has only been riding for just under three years, and her progress as a racer is phenomenal. This year she has proven herself to be a strong GC rider, taking 2nd overall at Gila and at Bisbee. She also won the Prologue at Bisbee. Brooke says “Cycling has been a gift in my life, for it has sent me on an amazing and unexpected journey.”

From Brooke’s diary-
”When I left on March 10th to meet my Victory Brewing cycling team in California for the first time, I was equally nervous and excited. I was thrilled to be part of such a strong team of women, but also a bit intimidated by my teammates’ experience and superior knowledge of the sport. A month later, I can tell you that after meeting the girls and spending the month of March racing with them, my nerves have vanished, and I am even more optimistic about racing this season. In just that short amount of time, being patiently yet firmly tutored by my team, I feel like I have begun a transformation into becoming a real bike racer!”

Brooke in your diary you refer to your time at Victory Brewing as “Bike racing 101”, so tell me how are you progressing halfway through the season?

"Well, I can honestly say I still learn something new in every race. I owe everything to the girls on my team, they help me so much. I’m definitely the inexperienced one on the team. I’ve only been riding for about two and a half years, and racing for two."

What were you involved in before, because obviously you were in shape already when you started riding?

"I was a runner before, but had to stop after an injury. I kind of got into riding really fast, and initially I raced with a local club. I never had anyone telling me what to do, or how to improve. I went to races alone, and didn’t really know what was going on. My style was to kind of sit in the back of the peloton, because there is where I felt safer?"

"Anyhow, this is my first year being on a team, and it has been amazing! The team has been teaching me about tactics, what to watch for, how to “read” what is going on in the race. I have learned so much from my teammates, and we always have so much fun together!"

You had a good uphill time trial in Pomona. You were 2nd overall in the Tour of Gila. What do you consider to be your strength or specialty?

"I think I’m best at climbing and time trialling. I love time trials because it’s a lot like running where you just go all out from the beginning. The hard part of the races for me is learning to pace myself – the drafting, being patient to not go out too early, how to position myself to be at the right place at the right time. A time trial is just so much simpler, it’s just “Go hard!” right from the start. Just like running, so it’s the easiest for me mentally and physically."

In the off-season you work as an activities coordinator in a local elementary school?

"It was just awesome! I work at the school once a week when I’m home during the school year, more just to keep in touch with the kids than anything else. They are so sweet!"

Brooke’s signature Victory Brewing beverage? Whirlwind Wit Offering a tamed tempest of flavors both spicy and sublime, this softly fermented ale greets the nose and tingles the tongue. Imported Belgian yeast charges Whirlwind with an energy all its own.

Kirsten Robbins
Racing Age: 25
Date of Birth: April 28, 1978
Born: Canada

Before the cycling bug bit her Kirsten was a runner at the national level in Canada. She was four-time York University Cross country and Track and Field MVP and OUA All-Star. She was given her first road bike in 1999, and competed in her first races that year! She has raced with Victory Brewing since 2002.

In her bio Kirsten explains her love of cycling:
I enjoy cycling because it is a dynamic sport. It is not enough to be only fit (strong, fast, or powerful), or tactically gifted, or technically sound, or talented. All areas must be developed. Cycling is a sport where learning is always taking place and for me, is continually motivating. Cycling has satisfied my needs for competition, training, traveling, discovering new friendships and personal limits.


Kirsten Photo by Marianne Werz OBrien

One of your teammates wrote in her diary that at TriPeaks “Kirsten visited Graceland on the way up” – Can you explain that?

"Actually that’s Sandy’s quote “Once you see Graceland you’ll meet Elvis” and I was definitely seeing Graceland on Mt Nebo. It was a really hard climb. Actually my boyfriend told me he really saw Elvis on Brasstown Bald during the Tour de Georgia. There was an Elvis impersonator there! He also said people were giving pushes to riders, I wish they’d done that at TriPeaks!"

"I come from a running background where races are always about attrition. In bike racing it’s a lot less about attrition. You have to have the technical skills, you have to be able to conserve your energy, and to know when to expend it. Sometimes riding the easiest allows you to win the race, by saving the energy until the very end. There’s a lot of strategy involved in bike racing."

What is your speciality?

"Well, one thing is to be the first lead out on the mountains, when there are Queen of the Mountain points to be had. I love the climbs, I know it sounds grueling but, hey – the harder the better! You know – the harder the race the better you feel about your result."

Your favorite result this year?

"This year I was fifth in the final stage of the Tour of Gila. I had always wanted to race the Tour of Gila so I was really excited to be there! The last stage is called the Gila Monster and it’s a really hard road race, especially because it comes at the end of a long, mountainous stage race. The final day I got into a good break, and we stayed away for seventy miles and then I was fifth in the stage! For me that race is legendary, because I’ve heard so much about it. So to finish fifth on the Gila Monster was my most exciting moment so far this year!"

Impressions on the Liberty Cup?

"If you were to climb Manayunk on a regular day with none of the fans there, your legs would hurt and you’ld really suffer. But on race day because the fans are there, cheering so loud that you can’t even hear you heart beat, you just want to go harder and harder. It really gives you energy! It’s just a really cool feeling."

Kirsten’s signature Victory Brewing beverage? Golden Monkey Enchanting and enlightening, this golden, frothy ale boasts an intriguing herbal aroma, warming alcohol esters on the tongue and light, but firm body to finish. Exotic spices add subtle notes to both the aroma and flavor. Strong, sensual and satisfying.

Nicole Demars
Racing Age: 33
Date of Birth: August 17, 1970
Born: Calgary, Alberta Canada

Cyclo-tourism leads yet another woman to racing! Nicole spent a year riding through South and North America prior to starting her racing career. This year, she has captured the Queen of the Mountain title at the Pomona Valley Stage Race, won the 6th stage at Redlands, and racing on the Canadian National team she placed 2nd on stage 10 at the Tour de l’Aude.

Tell me about the year touring South and North America?

“My husband and I came down to America after University to earn some money so we could go traveling. We flew down to Tierra del Fuego and then bike toured all through South America. Our flight back to Canada had a stop in LA, and since we still had money left over we decided to ride from LA to Mexico and then up to Calgary. All in all about nine months of bike touring. It’s just the best way to travel!”

I’ld like to know how you earn enough money for nine months of biking!

“Well, aside from our flight to get there, everything in South America is remarkably inexpensive. Six months of travel in South America, including 5 or 6 flights because we hopped around a bit, was under $5,000 for the two of us. We camped a lot, and the menu of the day is usually about seventy-five cents. It was really a great trip though.”

Obviously you are a mountain goat. What about sprinting?

“Yes, I love climbing. When it comes to sprints I can hold my own in a small group but I am definitely not the one to pick in a pack sprint.”

You list gardening as a hobby. How much gardening do you actually get to do being on the road as much as you are?

“I haven’t been home since April 15th and am not due to return home til mid June. Since I miss all the prime times for planting I’ve made my husband a list of all the starts to pick up. For instance I want a Brandywine tomato, so it goes on the list, then I make him a list of the dates to plant everything, and tell him where they should go... And that’s my garden!”

Brilliant! You get to pick and choose, and then enjoy the results! He gets to plant, weed and feed. Absolutely brilliant! I think you have gardening down pat, the perfect plan!

“Thank you!” (she laughs)

Nicole’s signature Victory Brewing beverage? HopDevil Ale - Bold, spicy and menacingly delicious, this American-hopped India Pale Ale offers an aromatic punch and then follows through with a lasting, full-bodied finish.

Johanna Buick
Racing Age: 28
Date of Birth: December 23, 1976
Born: Johannesburg, South Africa

Johanna started riding at the end of 1999 after completing her studies at University. Working full-time and training part-time, her riding progressed enough that she was selected to the New Zealand National Team in 2002. Unfortunately her career was sidelined that year as she was critically injured when struck by a car. Hard work and perseverance had her in top form and racing again the following year. She placed second in the New Zealand Time Trial championships in 2003.

You had two stage wins and overall victory at TriPeaks. I wrote a preview of that race and the climbs sounded brutal. You speak enthusiastically about those climbs in your diary – are you a natural climber?

“I like climbing, and also time trialing. I’m a strong climber, it is something I enjoy. I like pushing myself.”

“The final day at TriPeaks we rode the 9 mile climb up Mt Magazine. This was one of the most magnificent climbs I have ever ascended. Mt. Nebo was brutally steep but I managed to gain the stage win and cement 1st on GC.”

You were out of competition for most of 2002 after being hit by a car. How long did it take you to recover your confidence on the road?

“It took a while to feel comfortable again, but during the time I was forced off of my bike I realized how much I loved racing so I returned to it with renewed enthusiasm and determination.”

“Then I had eight weeks of riding on a trainer, so by the time I was healed and able to get out on the road again I was so grateful just to be outside riding, I was just loving it. Riding on the wind trainer is just so boring.”

In Johanna’s diary she describes the nomadic life of a pro cyclist:

It is really a lengthy circuit of barbeques occasionally interupted by some racing. After attending four b.b.q.s in five days, my iron intake is looking good but my race weight isn't. It's all Mike's fault. He needs to be a mean, nasty and strict director (Euro style), and come out with statements like "You will eat yourself off the team". Instead he just laughs and asks us to pass the brownies.”
In a later entry she says:
“Paul and I entertained the other guests at the Econo Lodge somewhere in Missouri. We set up windtrainers on the concrete outside our room and rode for half an hour. Paul was somewhat of a novelty to the locals ... shaved legs and all that spandex....luckily for him, I was there to act as his body guard.

Johanna’s signature Victory Brewing beverage? Prima Pils - Heaps o' hops are hiding under the full, frothy head of this elegant Pils. All German malt subtleties linger beneath a long dry finish of this classy quencher.

Sophie St-Jacques
Racing Age: 27
Date of Birth: June 7, 1976
Born: Montreal, Canada

Sophie is a long time cycling fan. She remembers watching Steve Bauer in the maillot jeune in the Tour de France, and the year Greg Lemond won. She says “I thought it was the best sport in the world, so I decided to start racing as well. I just found and advertisement in the newspaper about a local cycling club, so I joined!! Nobody in my family knew about cycling.”

She is a strong climber, and a hard team worker whose idea of the perfect post-race food is a huge burrito and a Martini! She is an outdoors gal from the word go, who enjoys mountain biking, cross country skiing, hiking, snow shoeing, and football!

“I am just so passionate about this sport!!” Sophie says, “I just love being on a bike and I love riding.”

Sophie’s signature Victory Brewing beverage? Hop Wallop Pure gold of color, this ale offers its heady bounty of hops to the adventurous of taste. Bold, bracing and surprisingly refreshing.

Please visit the team website here.

For more about the American Criterium Championship Series, please visit their website here.


V for Victory! Photo by Marianne Werz OBrien

The last member of the Victory Brewing team to be interviewed is possibly one of the most important. Bill Covaleski, President of Victory Brewing. Bill – First off, thank you for sponsoring a women's pro-cycling team!

How has this sponsorship benefited Victory Brewing?

"Victory Brewing’s chief asset is our diversified line of flavorful beers. No billboard or radio ad can convey these great flavors. Therefore, with our limited marketing budget we look to create sampling opportunities and/or events to emphasize our beers."

"We are part of the cycling community and we know that it’s a thirsty crowd. Also the cycling community prefers things of quality over bland products and our Victory Brewing team members are sincere, enthusiastic advocates of our beers."

Do you feel you are getting more name recognition? Increased sales?

"I think we are getting exposure primarily, which should lead to product trials, which should lead to sales, if the consumer agrees with us that our beer is great."

Okay sports fans, it’s time to show our support for the team! It’s really pretty easy too, just go hoist a tall, cold Victory Brewing beverage. We get to drink exquisitely delicious microbrew beer and feel good about it. After all – we’re just doing our part to support women’s cycling, eh? Supporting pro cycling should always be this enjoyable!

Please visit the Victory Brewing webpage for more information.

For independent reviews of Victory Brewing beverages check out the Beer Advocate here.

 
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