For Giorgia Bronzini, being a professional rider was relatively simple. Eat healthily, rest well, train hard, and race to win. And win she did – the Italian amassing over 80 wins on the road and the track during her 16-year career.
She took the decision to retire last summer. While she still loved racing, and guiding her team out on the road as race captain, training had become a chore. And in true Bronzini style, the double road world champion bowed out with a sensational sprint victory in the second stage of the Madrid Challenge, for the defunct Cylance Pro Cycling.
Now the second chapter of the 35-year-old’s career begins as directeur sportif of new super team Trek Segafredo, alongside her once sprint rival Ina-Yoko Teutenberg. And Bronzini admits, life has suddenly become that little bit more complicated.
She laughed: “As a rider it was simple, we went to races, training camps, and were given training to do. I was never one of those who was passionate about looking at the maps or uploading the route to my Garmin. I just followed the crew, and when you’re told to work, I work. Now I realise there is so much that goes on behind the scenes and I have to direct and say where we are going!
“That is hard for me. I am really old-school with technology and now there are all these apps and websites. I missed a lot! Elisa (Longo Borghini, former Wiggle High5 teammate and Trek rider) says ‘Hey Giorgia come on, there is a website for this. It’s on this app.’
“I got a new laptop and I only opened it at the end of September – I should have opened it earlier. I was so lost – I should take lessons, really!”
Despite technology nightmares, the transition from road captain to sports director is relatively seamless for Bronzini, who has won eight stages of the Giro Rosa, 10 stages of the Route de France and the Tour of Chongming World Cup.
And she believes women need women to lead them.
“I wanted to stay in the sport, girls need some former riders in charge of them,” she argues. “We can be more sensitive to their doubts, their needs, their problems as women working with women.
“Men don’t think about women having periods – but really they are quite important. They can change your humour, your emotions, your moods, depending on how we manage it. And men sometimes don’t understand, they don’t live through it. We can understand.”
And working with Ina?
“I look at her as an idol. When I was younger I wanted to do as she was on the bike, and then I started to beat her, and I was over the moon. And this team will work how she did, her style – be honest and correct with your opponents, respect them and they will respect you too. I would be sad if anyone ever said a bad word about the team – that is not our style.”
Bronzini’s first race will be Setmana Ciclista Valenciana, where the points race world champion will be behind the wheel guiding the riders for the first time. And she is looking forward to not just seeing the established stars excel, but also the developing riders getting their chance to shine.
She said: “I’m looking forward to the younger riders performing. Tayler Wiles has huge potential, a huge engine and with some advice, she will do it. Trixi Worrack for me has a talent to win a race, and I would like to give her the opportunity. I want to make a difference and give everyone a chance.”
And sitting in the convoy, will Bronzini miss racing and training or has she put her racing instinct to sleep?
“Normally I am active in the day, I never sit on the sofa. Now I have to sit in the car or at my computer. I want a treadmill at my desk! I don’t miss the training, but I want to sweat a little – that’s been my life for the last 20 years. Now when do I take a shower?!” she laughs.
“But this is the right time for me – I wanted to stop racing still winning. And that was a dream come true for me, and one of the best wins of my career. Everything was perfect. No regrets.”