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Tiffany Cromwell interview part 2: Wanting to do well in ALL the races!

In Part 1 of our interview with Tiffany Cromwell, she told us about the Omloop het Nieuwsblad, racing in Qatar and descending with Vos. In part two we talk more about what it's been like joining Specialized-lululemon, which races she'd most like to win (clue: most of them!) and what she's working on off the bike.

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PdC: You're back in an American team, and you started your elite career in the USA, with Colavita.  How was your training camp in the States?

Tiffany: I loved it!  It's fun being back!  It's a bit different, because we're an American team, but we're so international - we're got four Americans, two Australians, a Dutchie, a Canadian, a French and two Germans, so you can't really call us American, it's just our sponsors, and lululemon's Canadian anyway.  But I enjoyed it, California's a great place and we go spoilt with the weather, we got to spend a lot of time with our sponsors. It was fun, I loved it!  America's good value, it's an easy place and California's a happy place.  I went to the Exergy Tour in 2012, and that was the last time I'd been back since I raced there with Colavita, and this was the first time I'd been back in California since 2010.

PdC: I liked your instagram photos from the camp, you made it look like the happiest, loveliest, team-iest time!

Tiffany: It was, it was a blast!  I've been on GreenEdge for the last couple of years, and their camps are a bit more serious, much more about training than having fun, but with this team….. we got in some really good training, but we also did some yoga, obviously with the lululemon influence, and did some hanging out with our sponsors, and doing cook-ups, we went to an ice-hockey game.  It was good, it was much less stressful than the training camps I've been to in the past.

It's a different approach - and with GreenEdge we had the Australian races we had to be good for, so we had different targets, but this was nice and really relaxed.  It was just like one big family, with no stress, which is what you want at the start of the year, you want to be able to get to know everyone off the bike, and have a good time and not be worried about whether your form's good, because it's a long season, and it's very easy to burn out if you're too serious too early.  I enjoyed it!

PdC: One of the things we always see from the team camps are the yoga - had you done yoga before?

Tiffany: I have, very on and off, I did a lot when I used to live in America, and I've done classes in Australia and Europe.  I'm good if I have classes, but not so good if I have to do it by myself.

PdC: I've always wondered, with the team, what it's like - the team seems to embrace yoga, but what if you don't like it?

Tiffany: I'm sure that would be hard, and some people find it harder than others because they may not be so flexible, but it's an important part of training, to be able to be flexible and to stretch, and it's an easy way to do it.  lululemon arranged to have different instructors throughout the camp, so we had that reason to be able to do it, and some of the girls absolutely love it, but we all enjoyed it, and you realise when you're doing it regularly, how much better you feel, on and off the bike.

PdC: Do you know what your role is going to be in the team, or is it not sorted out yet?

Tiffany: We've sort of talked about our places in the team, and they're looking at me to step up, but the thing with Specialized, it's been fantastic already.  They've been a great team, I feel like I've slipped in there perfectly already.  It's a team where they want everyone to step up and win bike races, which I think is really good, but they'll be looking at me for the Classics.  And I've talked about wanting to have the chance to be a bit more of a leader, and to say "if you back me, I want to produce the goods", so it's now about trying to prove I'm capable of doing that, and having those opportunities, which I think is exciting.  I have a very good race programme, with a nice amount of balance and recovery.  It's a big year for stepping up for me, and they're willing to support that, and obviously we're a team that are always going to work together and support each other, whoever's there in the position to do something.

PdC: That must be really relaxing - it must take the pressure off, knowing you can kill it and always try, but if you don't get away, your team-mate can, rather than have a set plan - or not having the problem of wanting to be able to attack if the plan is only to work for a team leader. 

Tiffany: It's good, and I really respect the way they race, they want to go into big races and make the race, not be following and just waiting for it to pan out, and let the likes of Marianne Vos and Emma Johansson make the race.  They want us to show what women's cycling is all about, and why it is exciting.  That's what creates the opportunities and the good rides - and obviously we'll all have different areas where we can work, and put our energy into.  It's nice to have that responsibility to be a leader, but also, particularly if it's your first year stepping into that role, like it will be for me, you don't want to have it in every single race and always be stressed and worrying about your form - but you always know you will have that support.

PdC: So if everything else was equal and you had your choice of whichever race you could win this year, which would it be?

Tiffany: Certainly Flanders, I love that race, and it's one of the biggest ones on the women's calendar.  Flanders is the big, big one, if I could have any race that's not a world title, obviously!  There's a few others - I'd like to do well at the Tour of Britain, I think that's going to be really big and exciting, one I'd like to target.  I want to get into the Team Time Trial squad, that's the big goal, because we're going for [World title] number three within the team.  I've been a good time triallist before, it's just trying to get back to that, and slot into the team.  It's such a cool event, where you get to do everything as a team, and get rewarded as a team.  Then some of the World Cups, later in the year - I've got all kinds of ideas, a stage of the Giro would be nice, too!  Ultimately, I want to do well in every race. The Commonwealth Games, too, that's a target.  It's a race that can pan out in a lot of different ways, but it's not a trade team race. 

PdC: Austalia should be the strongest team going into the Commonwealths, for sure

Tiffany: We'll have numbers, and we'll have different cards, we can take a sprinter and different types.  If you look at the GB Nationals, it was a race of attrition, but it can go either way - but obviously we won't want to come to the pinch with Lizzie [Armitstead] because she'll be targeting it as hard as well.

PdC: So, moving off the bike... you were instagramming like crazy in America, and then you took over the Bicycling Instagram account when you were in Qatar - how did that come about?

Tiffany: Leah [Flickinger] from Bicycling was up at our training camp, and asked if I was interested - so why not, I love taking pictures.  After the first day I started I was getting a bit over the top, bouncing between three instagram accounts, my own, theirs and the Specialized-lululemon account which we all contribute to it as a team.  I love photography, and I enjoy trying to take artistic shots, I like to make it a bit funky.  I'm always looking for detail, and I got a GoPro for Christmas, so I was playing with that and uploading it to instagram too.  So that came about, and they loved it, and they're talking about maybe potentially doing it again at other races throughout the season.  I love doing it on my own, but it's also fun to share it with a bigger audience, getting people involved.  People have told me they like seeing what it's like off the bike, all the behind-the scenes action.

PdC: That's one of the things that separates out the women from the men in the peloton, you are so much in control of your own media and creating your own media, so we more from the women about what racing is really like, and that's what people want.

Tiffany: It's because we have to do it, to get ourselves out there and get more exposure, so we're always looking for a different angle.  I think that's what makes it special as well, because then you do get a greater insight, whereas with the men, they're more established, so they don't need to make the effort unless they have the passion for photography, for example.

PdC: You've always been creative and into visual arts, haven't you, because you trained as a fashion designer didn't you?  And you're keeping your hand in with kit design?

Tiffany: Yes, I still dabble, and I'm still trying to get my own stuff up and running, so it's one of those things, getting there slowly.  But it's good, I get kit designs because people ask me to do their kit, and that gets me re-inspired and ambitious to get designing again. It's a nice little side project, I do enjoy it, and if I have a deadline I get inspired.  I really like the design side of things, I love trying to create spaces, and drawing, on the computer mainly.  I enjoy having something different to the bike, and having to use a different part of the brain that's open to personal expression, I guess you can say.  it teaches you more about yourself, and other people about yourself, the kind of ideas that some people might have.

PdC: With your team manager Kristy Scrymgeour starting her own clothing label,, will there be a chance to collaborate with that?

Tiffany: It's potentially another competitor for me!  But I think it's really great, she's done a really, really good job with it, it's simple and classy and really good fabrics - the same sort of ideas that I have, but mine's different of course.  You never know, maybe we could have a collaboration - or maybe I finally get mine up and running as a competitor!  It's cool, the more we can get out there the better, because it's definitely a growing market, with more women getting into bikes.  It's exciting, when she told us about it at the training camp it's great.

PdC: It sounds like you're in a really good place at the moment

Tiffany: I am, it's good now.  Last year was an interesting year, you could say - I did really well on the bike, but off the bike there was quite a lot of different things going on, but this year it's all settled down.  New team, living arrangements are good, off the bike is good.  Hopefully I'll have an amazing year on the bike - you never know!  I've got lots of things going on, all my design projects and looking to do a little bit more of that, if people want more designs.  And we're potentially going to get my Tiffany Jane brand up and running, that's the plan.  I'd say I'm in a really good place!

PdC: I have one last cheeky question for you…..  I'm still finishing my team in the Podium Café virtual DS game, and I'm trying to decide between you and Trixi Worrack - which should I pick?

Tiffany: That is an interesting one!  I'd say me because I want to promote myself!  But Trixi is very crafty as well, she's a good rider.  I'd say either of us are very good options - toss a coin and that will give you the answer!


Follow Tiffany through the season on her website, twitter, instagram and her facebook fan-page - and follow Specialized-lululemon on their website and twitter.

For more on the Specialized-lululemon team camp, watch this video, and have a look at the photo gallery on their team website, and more beautiful team camp photos by Emily Maye on the Specialized Women facebook