Tiffany Cromwell: Riding on gravel ‘brought back my enthusiasm’ for the road

HARELBEKE, Belgium (VN) — Racing gravel helped Tiffany Cromwell rediscover her love of road racing.

The Aussie who rides for Canyon-SRAM got into gravel racing late last year with rides at SBT GRVL, Belgian Waffle Ride in North Carolina, Big Sugar and several others.

Replacing asphalt with dirt was a good break for Cromwell and gave him the opportunity to get away from the pressure of the road. Although she wants to continue riding on gravel this year and beyond, she isn’t leaving the road behind.

“I always want to balance it with the road aspect. I still have a lot of big ambitions on the road,” said Cromwell BikeNews. “Last year, having a much stronger year, it brought back my enthusiasm. I got back some of the parts that I may have lost in those years, but at the same time I like the idea to not have such a full schedule and to be able to have those little breaks because then you’re fresher for the road, I think.”

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Cromwell has raced road bikes for most of her life and she has been a pro for 12 years after signing for the women’s Lotto team in 2010. Adding gravel to her schedule last year has given her a chance to break what can be a very demanding road racing schedule.

“I worked there for a long time and I had ups and downs and I think [Ronny Lauke] knew I needed something else,” she said. “From a partner perspective, gravel is a very interesting area, so he came up with the idea and said maybe it could be for me personally for my performance and also for the team and our partners. I adopted him and I still like to do different things.

As well as giving him a mental break from the relentlessness of it and providing some variety in his season, Cromwell believes the discipline will help him get some road racing.

“There are certain things like time on the pedals and hours on the bike. As long as you recover properly it will benefit my power on the road,” Cromwell said. on the side of the road and I want to be part of it. I don’t want to go completely gravel. It’s a good position to have both sides.

Cromwell had planned to travel to the United States earlier this month, after a stint on the road at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Strade Bianche. However, with many key races coming on the road during the sprint, it was decided that the quick visit across the Atlantic was not a good idea.

In the end, Cromwell didn’t ride Omloop Het Nieuwsblad – her team wanted to start Chloé Dygert – and she made her season debut at Strade Bianche. She has since ridden Bruges-De Panne and Ghent-Wevelgem and will compete in the Tour of Flanders and the Amstel Gold Race before finally hitting the gravel in May.

This will be the first of two stints on land for Cromwell, who will return to the United States at the end of the summer. In addition to the variety of his races, Cromwell enjoys the camaraderie of the discipline.

“I’ll do BWR San Diago, it’s April 30, and then I’ll do Grinduro California. The month of May I will spend on the gravel then I will return to the road. I’ll do a few European races and then I’ll do another stint [on gravel] in August,” she said.

“I enjoy it but the gravel season is quite new to me and last year was the first year to try it but I only did a handful of races but after practicing this sport for so long, I enjoy having a month or two of it just focusing on the road and then breathing off the stress of the WorldTour and spending time doing gravel. It’s a different approach, and it’s It’s a lot more relaxed. The races are super tough because they’re long and quite physically demanding, but it’s a different mindset. It’s a lot calmer away from the race and it’s a great community . I’m enjoying it.”

On the road this year, Cromwell has modest ambitions. Although she would like to run for herself when she can, she also wants to be a good team player.

“I hope to be a major asset to the team. If I have opportunities for me I will take them, but I want to continue the growth I had last year and see what opportunities I can take.