country mountain bike racing in the US has tended to be dominated a
by a few big few big factory teams with backing from a major bike
brand. However, the husband and wife team of Daniel and Laura
Kindregan wanted to do something a bit different. Could they create a
team with a national presence that brought together dedicated
athletes and a mix of sponsors from both inside and outside the bike
result of that idea has been the Orbea-Tuff Shed Professional
Mountain Bike Team. For the last two years the team has been off to a
successful start, taking wins across the US. Team manager Laura
Kindregan was kind enough to take a few minutes to check in with
MTBRacenews about how the team started, this springs controversy over the UCI's proposed banning of pro racers in non-sanctioned races, and the challenges of
running an upstart pro team.
MTBRacenews.com:This is the team's second season, right? What was the impetus to
start Orbea Tuff Shed?
Laura Kindregan: It
is correct that this is the second year of the Orbea-Tuff Shed team.
The start of the team actually goes back to the first year of
the Pro XCT in 2009. Pro racer Daniel Kindregan travelled with
Kalan Biesel to Alabama for round two of the new USA Cycling Off Road
Series. When on the way home Kalan expressed his interest in racing
for an elite level national professional mountain bike racing team
the wheels started spinning. The fact was that there were only
a handful of elite level racing teams in the USA with many large
quality bicycle manufactures who were not being represented at the
races by top professionals. The fact is that building a ground
up mens professional racing team in the USA takes not only
creativity, yet also patience!
MTBRacenews.com:What are your team's goals for this season?
Laura Kindregan: This
year our team goals are rather simple, give back to our sponsors who
give us the opportunity to race the quality of products we use to win
races, while also bringing Tuff Shed into the world of sports.
Bringing in Tuff Shed was really the key to the team as far as
finding a sponsor outside of the industry that would actually have a
true return on their investment by reaching a new market by way of
our professional mountain bike racing team.
MTBRacenews.com:Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? Had you managed
teams before Tuff Shed? Why did you get into the team management
Laura Kindregan: I
grew up in sports, competing in tennis and following my dad play
squash at the national level. I have been in management roles
for a long time. I managed professional musicians and ran my own
public relations firm that I started from the ground up with my
husband Daniel, which we currently run, called Go Ahead Public
Relations. These experiences really gave me the confidence to
be able to grow with the team while having the willingness to reach
out to people in the industry and build a top level professional team
that was different than the traditional sponsorship formula that
mountain bike racing in the USA had fallen victim to.
MTBRacenews.com:Your riders enter a lot of unsanctioned races, how nervous were
you about USA Cycling's potential enforcement of UCI rules banning pro racers from attending non-sanctioned events?
Laura Kindregan: Our
riders do indeed enter numerous non-USA Cycling sanctioned races and
do very well at these events while also having a blast to boot. I
would say that we were not nervous about the UCI rule 1.2.019 in the
sense that our pursuit of the sport comes from a love for the sport
and not a need to put food on the table. We strongly support
USA Cycling and applaud their efforts to continue to keep a national
series, while also hosting numerous national championships on dirt
that are in a multitude of marvelous locations full of beautiful
trails (not to mention the effort that so many other individuals,
especially the volunteers, invest in events).
MTBRacenews.com:Had the rule been enforced, would your riders have purchased USA
Cycling licenses this year?
Laura Kindregan: With
out a doubt our racers would have purchased USA Cycling licenses had
the UCI rule 1.2.019 been enforced. We as a team have faith in
the sanctioning body that comes from the same spring that has brought
forth our belief that we could build a top level men's professional
mountain bike racing team from hard work and discipline. Our
job is to have fun racing while selling our sponsors products by way
of wining, yet also explaining to prospective buyers why the products
we use are the best and how they can be used to make riders and
racers alike enjoy the entire cycling experience from riding to
storing their equipment.
MTBRacenews.com:At this point there is a one year reprieve, but both USA Cycling
and the UCI say it will be enforced next year? Do you see that
happening? What, in your mind, can be done to avoid creating a replay
of this spring?
Laura Kindregan: Our
focus is to race bikes this year and let the professional sanctioning
bodies come to terms with how racing in the United States of America,
the homeland of off-road racing, will be managed. We are certain that
the gap will be closed at some point, and we will be racing for many
years to come at whatever races are going to benefit our riders and
prospective buyers of our sponsors products.
MTBRacenews.com:How would you assess the state of sponsorship in American
Laura Kindregan: Unfortunately
we believe that the state of sponsorship in American mountain bike
racing is not what it could be or what it once was. What we are doing
is trying to set a precedent that the sport has value and provides
great returns for those who choose to invest their time in racing.
What we have chosen to do is lead by example in the sense that we as
a team have come together and used all of our resources to think
creatively and approach companies that could use the exposure of a
team that not only creates new concepts like the sports shed, but
also follows through with its proposed agenda.
MTBRacenews.com:Do you have any riders racing enduro this season? Is that
something you're looking at as a potential discipline?
Laura Kindregan: We
definitely see enduro as a discipline now. It is one of the
waves of the sport that sort of comes and goes from within. As
you have seen what used to be the 24 hour craze is now the enduro
scene. A couple of our riders, Tim Allen and Tyler Coplea, are
planning on racing some enduro races. The advantage of racing
for Orbea is that there deep selection of bikes to choose from. The
new twenty-nine inch Orbea Occam that comes in carbon is going to be
the choice weapon for the enduros for sure.
MTBRacenews.com:What do you look for in a race when working with riders to create
Laura Kindregan: Creating
a racing schedule is certainly easier said than done. I make
sure that I give racers more room to decide what they want to do than
other team owners. I believe that works out best for the riders and
sponsors in that most of our racers know what they want to train for
and how it works with their own travel and budget. The
advantage here is that when one of our racers is at a race that they
really want to be at, they glow with joy and are that much more of a
benefit to themselves, yet also our sponsors. Creating early season
team races is something that we strive for, so that the riders are
able to get to connect with one another and begin to create mutual
travel plans and really start to work as a team.
MTBRacenews.com:What direction do you see mountain bike racing in the US moving
in the next five years?
Laura Kindregan: Mountain
bike racing in the next five years is something that is bound to
twist and turn just like the trails that racers zip through. The
sport itself will continue to be a strong foundation for the weekend
warrior, as cycling in general is such a healthy lifestyle that
promotes and creates lifelong friendships as well as strong bodies
and minds. The nice thing about mountain bike racing in the USA is
that it is not tainted with outrageous overpaid superstars that are
out of this world. The sport here consists of down to earth, hard
working, dedicated athletes who love the sport for as many reasons as
there are racers. I am certain that festivals will continue to be a
mainstay for racing as it combines elite competition within a family
friendly environment, in all honesty my hope is that the sport itself
remains something of the legend it has become here.
MTBRacenews.com:What's been the biggest challenge for you in running the
Orbea-Tuff Shed team?
Laura Kindregan: Running
the Orbea-Tuff Shed team has been a challenge in many ways,
especially when it comes to mid-winter contracts with sponsors and
the racers who are anxious to get on their machines and kick up some
dust! I would say that the ability to see the value in the long hours
and travel needed to accomplish what we have has been difficult at
times when we are not where we thought project should be, which is
the case so often in every individual's life. But the fact of the
matter is that we are right on target here. Our team is well
recognized within the sport and our two main sponsors Orbea and
Tuffshed are seeing increased sales as a result of what we have
created. This is something that rarely happens in this sport, and we
are turning heads here early in the game as far as our existence is