29 July 2010

Club Nationals 2010

Club Nationals 2010 from Benny Devcich on Vimeo.

The annual Club Nationals, held in the sunny Hawkes Bay. Bici Vida sent a small team down to race it. Alex Ray, Shem Roger, Mark Langlands, Taylor Gunman, and Colin Cornberg.
The race was 170km in distance. With both the Elite Open Men and the U23 Men racing at the same time.
Small breakaway after the second of six laps saw Shem sitting good for the remainder of the race. A bunch of three til the end, with the rest of the race not able to catch them. Shem was 2nd overall, and won the U23 title.

Benchmark Series #3

Round #3 of the 2010 Benchmark Race Series. This round was from the very beautiful Hanmer Springs, to the coast stunning coast of Kaikoura. The race was fast and hard, an active team saw many casualties out the back of the race. A second place for Taylor and the Teams Prize for the day.

28 July 2010

Pure Black Racing Team Launch.

Looks like I am back in business with the blog, I have been working on quite a few project in the last six months. None more than Team Bici Vida. Tonight we had our Press launch for a new project 'Pure Black Racing'. And what do you know, my web address is published with the press release. Kind of works out fine, I needed a kick in the ass with my writing, time to refresh the blog, and time to start keeping you entertained with life behind the scenes of a Professional Cycling Team. But here is the news of the day. Keep posted, finally the blog is rolling again.

Here is what Pure Black announced tonight:

Pure Black Racing launched today, aiming to become New Zealand’s first international UCI ProTour road cycling team. Olympians, professional athletes, business figures, politicians and government agencies from around the country have shown strong support for the venture by attending the launch in Auckland.

Lead by America’s Cup yachtsman, Star Class World Champion and Olympian, Carl Williams, Pure Black Racing will compete in UCI’s US Continental Tour in 2011 with the ultimate aim of becoming a ProTour Team with entry to the Tour de France by 2015.

“The time is right for a New Zealand-based professional cycling team to compete at the highest level,” says Williams. “Cycling is the fastest growing sport in New Zealand and we have more cycling world champions than we have in any other sport. It’s a perfect time to establish what we hope will be an iconic Kiwi sports brand.”

“To prove yourself you have to compete against the best in the world,” says Williams. “That requires dedication, complete professionalism and a total team approach. We’re not in that position yet, but with the talent we have available, their commitment and the backing of a superb organisation, we know we can be.”

Williams caught the cycling bug while cross training for his America’s Cup campaigns and racing with a local club in Valencia. “In Europe team racing is where it’s at,” says Williams. “Regardless of level, riders race in teams. It’s a really big thing.

“My goal is to see Pure Black Racing competing in Europe against the world’s premiere cycling teams,” says Williams.

Team Pure Black Racing grew out of Team Bici Vida, a domestic high performance cycling team, which Williams launched on his return from Valencia. From day one Williams’ vision was to build a world-class international cycle team in New Zealand, establishing it as a fully professional sports organisation.

Bici Vida launched onto the New Zealand scene at the PowerNet Tour of New Zealand in November 2009. Starting with a core team of talented U23 riders, the team enjoyed exceptional success in New Zealand in its first year.

Achievements include Southland U23 classification winner, 1st and 2nd in the Hamilton Open, 1st in Taupo Street Race, 1st Taupo Avanti Classic, 1st Festival of Cycling Criterium, stage wins at Tour de Vineyards, U23 Road Champion, 1st SRAM Tour de Ranges, 1st The REV, wins at the BioSPORT City Criterium series and most recently 1st and 2nd in the four day BDO Twin Coast Cycle Challenge.

As the young Bici Vida team learned the benefits of making sacrifices for team success, their victories grew. Five of the Bici Vida team have crossed the line first this season alone. After the team’s success and watching New Zealand’s strong cycling showing during the Beijing Olympics, Williams knew the timing was perfect. “We just had a Kiwi take three podium finishes in the Tour de France. What better time to launch a New Zealand team to compete against the best in the world,” says Williams.

While Bici Vida’s success on the road came down to having the best people in the right places on the bikes, the team’s rapid and successful development came from having the right people off the bikes. Carl was joined by investor and entrepreneur, Greg Cross, as Business Director; former Executive Director at Owens Group, Rick Ellis, as Chairman; and cycling veteran Benny Devcich, as Director Sportif. That same team is now the driving force behind Pure Black Racing.

Greg affirms the team’s professionalism. “Carl’s relationships have enabled us to secure international gear sponsorships from Spanish cycling company Orbea and USA’s George Hincapie. Those relationships extend to the circuit: four of Bici Vida’s eight riders have been placed with the US continental team Rubicon-Orbea for the 2010 US season while we establish Team Pure Black Racing for the 2011 season.”

Benny ‘Wrenchman’ Devcich is a passionate and obsessive cyclist who has served with Batusi Racing, Flexpoint, T-Mobile, Highroad, HTC Columbia, Swedish National and New Zealand National teams. Benny’s international experience, his understanding of team dynamics and his uncompromising professionalism are all important factors in developing and balancing the team’s wealth of young talent.

“There is still a lot of work to do to get Pure Black Racing in the winner’s circle,” says Cross. “Ultimately, to be successful we need the support of not only the New Zealand people, but Kiwi businesses as well.
As an international team, we’re looking to partner with the New Zealand export community as we take a highly visible Kiwi team to the world.”

Announcements on sponsorship, team members and team kit will be made over the coming months. Pure Black Racing is set to debut at New Zealand’s Tour of Southland in November. More information about supporting, following or joining the team can be found at: www.bicivida.com, www.pureblackracing.com.

18 March 2009

GP Brissago, Switzerland

I might get a chance to write a report on the Brissago race in the next couple of days. But in the meantime here is a couple of videos for you to have a look at. Both of them are just a test with my new editing software. And now I think I have some sort of harness hooked up in the car for filming a little bit more stable. But in the meantime enjoy the simple edits.

GP Brissago from Benny Devcich on Vimeo.

With the new software from Apple, the effects and graphics are pretty cool. Here I was just messing around a bit, and the effects are going to come in to a few more vids in the future. But think I could get inspired, stay tuned.

Test reel from Benny Devcich on Vimeo.

17 March 2009

Tour of Majorca

With a little bit of time up our sleeve we managed to get a few of the riders away from the cold of the northern part of Europe to the sunny isle of Majorca (Ibiza is the island next door). This is an island off the coast of Spain, and it’s one of the those popular places that thousands of riders and many teams head to sooner or later when the winter in Europe gets too bad to ride. I had not been there before, but almost all of the riders I had ever met here were familiar with the island, so I was hanging out to ride around it. I had a road bike ready, and the weather was looking good on the island, a much better option than the 0’c, rain and snow we were getting in Holland at the time. First we had a small drive up to Denmark in the sleet and snow, to meet up with Susanne and Trine. Klas was dropping off a car that had to go back to Sweden, and we had another trip to make to our bike guys at Stevens, so it was a multi purpose trip. We flew from Copenhagen, but that’s after waiting for a few hours for the plane to get de-iced in Berlin, before it picked us up, I was look forward to getting some more sunshine, it had been a week since the seeing the sun Qatar, and my endless summer was looking like it was in jeopardy.

But we were soon on our way, and the week’s weather report in Majorca was looking great, fine weather and sun for the week. I was keen on a bit of riding, it had been a few weeks since my last ride, and so I was keen to stretch the old legs again. The riding was sweet, after a couple of days I took a day off the training, to be a tourist for the day, a good chance to get a good look around the place. The city was dripping with history, a very old Roman city was still in place (amongst some newer buildings) after all the centuries gone by, most of it still stands. The streets were fantastic to ride around, just wide enough for a small car to drive slowly down, the bike was perfect for a good reconnoitre, and for taking a few pics on of course. The towns Cathedral was pretty amazing, and with my addiction to churches (mostly the outsides) I was in heaven. This was a pretty impressive building to say the least, and the surrounding areas looked pretty original as well, with the small streets packed closely in to the Cathedral, it was a great day. As always, while looking for that ultimate shot, I stumbled on to a wicked old furniture workshop, it looked like it had been there for hundreds of years, unchanged to this day. I have seen a few of these similar looking workshops around my travels, I dream of the day when I find on old bike workshop that looks as old as this. With clutter and spares in every nook and cranny possible, with an old man in an old leather apron with his head down, concentrating on his work. If I don’t find one, maybe I can make one for myself to retire to, and people wandering by just like me, poking their cameras inside to capture a slice of life you don’t often see in this modern world anymore.

The riding was fantastic as well, with small country roads leading all over the place, there was something for everyone, and some great sights to see. I didn’t take my camera with me on the bike, except for one day (I was trying to save weight as there was some big climbs to contend with, I was not that fit yet), so you will just have to take my word for it. I did manage a video of a days ride around the very beautiful coast, but you will have to wait until I find some faster Internet before I post it up for your pleasure.

In the meantime have a look at a few shot of the city and surrounds HERE.

Found some, so have a look at a bumpy ride.

Tour of Majorca from Benny Devcich on Vimeo.

Or here if you have the right viewer for a higher quality view.

5 March 2009

Teams Presentation

With all the new clothes and the new bikes we had an official engagement to attend finally, our Teams Presentation. This is where we present the team and ourselves to the media and sponsors for the year. It’s kind of a drag, but an important part of any teams existence. It gives us a chance to take some press quality photos (we had hired professionals for this) of the girls and the team as a whole. These will be used for promotions, websites and assorted other uses throughout the season. It’s one of those times when a cyclist is really out of there comfort zone, having to look good standing still, feeling naked without a bike and helmet to hide themselves.

But I suppose there are some of the team that like to show their feminine side of their character for a change, and come out with full makeup and hair do’s, I hardly recognise some of them sometimes. Unfortunately Susanne was sick up in Sweden, so she had decided to stay at home, rather than infect all the rest of the team with her bugs. So we had the other nine riders to deal with for the day. But it all worked out well, after a bit of lounging around, waiting for the press to conduct interviews, and some talking with some of our favourite sponsors, the photos were all done. Now just the crowded room to deal with, as they called us one by one up on to the stage, for our introductions. I thought I had escaped the show by hiding near the front of the stage, taking a few photo’s of my own, but near the time I was due to go up, the events lady dragged my from my hiding place, into the limelight, for my 5 minutes on stage. But it was nice, as the crowd was silently stunned with such a fantastic looking team.

From the left, Trine, Loes M, Loes G, Saskia,Mirjam, Iris, Jacobien, Elisabeth and Anna (Susanne missing).

We looked good, new riding kits, two very clean shiny bikes, flanking the stage, what more could the media and public ask for. A good meal, with a team member on every table for added entertainment value, and it was getting late, a very long day for the girls. I had plenty of wheels and bikes to prepare in the coming days so we all looked to each-other to get out of there, our job was done for another year. I gathered the bikes and equipment up and made a dash for it, the girls were start to get a bit grumpy, so it was a good time to leave.

Some more phots HERE.

Het Nieuwsblad

After spending a week putting the new machines together, it was finally time to give them a bit of a spin, and what a great test, with the first race of the European season, Het Nieuwsblad (renamed Het Volk). I have a lot faith in my own mechanical work, and I wouldn’t be human if I wasn’t a bit worried, with eight new bikes, being raced over some pretty shit roads. Also to top that, we had four or five sections of pretty bad cobblestones, some of them up to 3km long, and these are a real test for any machine, let alone a lightweight race bike. But I was feeling confident, I had checked the bikes over twice, and then a third time for good luck, I could relax in the car, knowing there was nothing more I could do. We had a bit of colour on the bike this season, so they were looking all new and pretty, lined up before the start. The new team clothing had arrived during the week as well, so the public would get their first look of our new colours for the season. We would be spending the day in the team car, trying to spot the girls in amongst the 150 riders or so in the peloton, at least the back of the uniform was simple, three bold colours, and dark shorts. It is always a bit of a challenge at the start of the season when most teams change their colours and riders, it can make for a bit of added confusion as to who is who, and which team are they riding for now, initially. But with in a couple of races, we have our eyes calibrated, and no one rider escapes our attention, unless of course they are getting dropped in the first half an hour, and we are trying not to look at the sorry faces, as they hurtle to the rear of the caravan.

The new bikes ready to race

The girls were happy with the new bikes and clothes, a few of the team had already given the bikes a test run earlier in the week, but more than half were riding a fresh bike. The eight girls (80% of the team) lined up before the race with the bikes and new uniforms for a few pics. They all looked pretty impressive, the bikes I mean, and the girls didn’t look too bad either, the race was about to start, so my work was about to slowdown for the day I hoped. I loaded the car, and attempted to turn the race radios on, but it was not happening. We had double-checked everything this week for our first Euro race, all except the radios, stupid I know, but they have never been a problem, until now. The two radios were just not working, so I checked all the fuses I could find (a modern car is unbelievable for the amount of electronics it has) in three different places in the car, but no luck. The radios were very important, first the race radio, so we can hear what is going on during the race, the action on the front, the rear, and everything in-between. Second, the rider’s radio, so we can talk to the girls and hear them when there are problems, and to direct them during the race. This was going to be difficult, with such bad road conditions, we would have to be very alert, and the girls would have to think a little bit more for themselves for the tactics if we were out of range. After a bit of messing around (my half hour of peace while the girls were warming up was lost, I am no auto electrician, that’s for sure), we could not get them going. Klas rushed to the organisation to borrow a race radio, and we would have to do with one of the small riders radio for our tactical directions.

What a fantastic lineup, new bikes, new riding kit.

The course was different than previous years, and this time we would be following the last 128 km of the men’s race, which would be raced in behind us, later on in the day. The race started, and before I could relax for the first time all morning, the first crash call came over the radio. Everyone from the team were safe, but it was a bad omen for the day, and before most of the girls were back in the bunch, crash number two for the day. One of our girls were down the radio said, a bit of stress, but Iris was down and up just as fast. But there was a real mess over the road with all the race cars scattered everywhere, too many club teams here today, they don’t have the experience like the UCI teams have. Iris had a bit of a nice gash on her calf, and some chainring punctures on her shin, but otherwise she and the bike were fine. Some really sharp corners, and a few more crashes later, Loes M got caught in another crash, she was not too good, a bit of a hit to the head and shoulder when she hit the road, so she battled on for a bit longer, then hitched a ride back to the finish with us. But just as she flipped the front seat back into position, and sat down, the borrowed race radios power lead got squashed underneath it, and severed our race info again. A bit of a cleanup and splicing on the wires and I was ready to plug it back in for some sound, but the shock must have shorted another fuse to the auxiliary power plug, so we were back to square one, I gave up, we would have to rely on the other cars for some race info now.

Loes M not looking too happy after her crash.

A few more crashes later, and the race was getting near to the end, there was a breakaway of about 26 riders, and we had four of our team in there. But we could do nothing, the speed was high, and our attacks were not successful at all. The race came into the finish chute for sprint, the girls went for it, but not being the sprinting type, we did not manage to beat the winner, Susanne DeGoede from Nurenburger. It was not a bad day after all that drama, (it was at least warm 13’c, and no rain) the girls performed pretty well so early in the season. Some nice riding from all the team, and some great efforts from the younger riders, a couple of crashes with the team in, and only one puncture (thanks to a nice big pothole), a few scratches on the new shifters, and no other damage for the day. The radios we won’t mention again for a while I hope. We were pretty lucky looking around at the damage and punctures that other teams suffered during the race. I kind of had to laugh when three members of one team crashed into each other at the back of the peloton. The three of them in the middle of the road, trying to get their bikes apart, crying and looking ahead to the disappearing bunch, oh well, maybe they should be concentrating a bit more next time.

And look HERE for a few more pics of the day.

21 February 2009

New Seasons Bikes

With the sunshine of Qatar gone for another year, we headed back to the cold weather of Holland. Winter was still there, it had not gone anywhere, but we had a bit of work to do, so at least I would be busy and warm for a few days. The bikes were ready for delivery, or more importantly, ready for us to pick up. Stevens Bike Company was in the north of Germany, in the city of Hamburg only about 600km away. We decided it would be quicker to pick everything up at once, rather than waiting around for delivery. As well as the bikes, there was a stack of new wheels for the season as well. Normally we use Bontrager wheels in the season, but this year there is a bit of a change of wheel sponsor. Stevens has stepped in, with a custom built wheel, very nice in three sizes. We still have a lot of good Bontrager wheels still in house, so a combination of the both will be used for the various races.

The van half loaded with 20 bikes, doesn't look like much, but it's a big van

We hit the road early for the trip to Hamburg, with the weather on our side, it was going to be an easy trip. We encountered a little snow half way up, but we still arrived just on lunchtime. After waiting for the warehouse staff to finish their own lunch, we organised the pile of bikes and equipment into the van. We were perfectly on time to pick up the last wheel being built in front of us. It looked like the old guy had been doing it for years, and it was nice to see him run a tensionometer over every spoke before he gave us the last wheel to pack away. Now a small drive home, and then we could start to build our new machines for the year. Not too far from Hamburg, there seemed to be a bit of a block on the autobahn. After moving less than a kilometre in an hour, we were herded off the highway, on to a very small road. Seems there was a problem further down the road, so thousands of cars and trucks were just sent off on their own devices, thank god for the GPS. But it didn’t help too much, within a half hour, we thought we had found an on-ramp, but it was blocked as well. We then had a great idea to head cross-country, to miss all the traffic, this was our first fatal mistake. With in a few minutes, we were heading down some very small country roads, every time we thought we were back on track, there was another bridge or road closed for repair. It was killing us as the highway was in full view the whole time, but as yet the van could not jump the barriers onto the highway. Finally after three hours, we found our way onto the right road, and were off again. It was a long day, but we had the bikes, the group-sets, wheels etc, so it was not all bad. Now to unpack everything, and start the mission of building the new bikes, it was exciting, even though it can be a drag sometimes.

A small part of the Steven's warehouse

The next day, we organised all the new equipment into the ‘service course’, and started organising the build. Building bikes is not really the hard bit, getting all the setups right for every rider, can get a bit tricky first up. But I had managed to decipher and measure all the setups for most of the girls, so the building began. We only had a few days before we were leaving Holland for the warmer climate of the island of Majorca, a larger than I thought island, off the coast of Spain. Near the island of Ibiza, very popular for cyclists wanting to escape the cold winter of Europe. So finishing nine of the teams bikes was the plan, two days later they were done. It’s always nice building the bikes at the start of the season, at least they will be done properly, and up to my very high standard. It’s always nice to have them built of course, but now I know the inside and out of every bike we will race, it’s a good feeling. I forgot to take any pictures of the new bikes, so you will have to wait till I get back to base for a look at them.

Facing off the Stems with Klas's 'Top Secret' tool. Designed to make sure the stem is providing the perfect pressure on the headset bearings. Crooked stems are half the problem with bearing failures. And when you see how much material comes off one side of the stem, you tend to agree pretty quick. More on this tool later.

Next race for the team is the ‘Omloop Het Nieuwsblad’ on 28.02.2009. Renamed ‘Omloop Het Volk’ (a newspaper ‘The People’ sponsored the race for years, now it’s sold, thus the name change). Normally the start of the racing in Europe, and signifies the real start to the season. The race starts Gent in Belgium, so it’s nice and close to get to. I just hope the weather gets a bit better before we race.