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Interview With Orbea-Tuff Shed Team Manager Laura Kindregan

Posted by: Matt Williams |July 15, 2013 11:46 PM
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Cross 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 industry?

The 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 business?

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 mountain biking?

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 their schedules?

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 concerned.






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