Stevens p/b Pactimo is one of a handful of women’s development teams that has stepped in to fill the void left by the Webcor Alto Velo Women’s team which folded for good at the end of last year. The early season win at Cal Aggie Crit came as a happy surprise to the team founder, Bill Nicely. I always told Bill I’d do an interview with him as the NCNCA president but never got around to it. Now that’s he’s leading up and outfit to support NorCal women I figured it was time to catch up with him.
After some time on the NCNCA board you’ve decided to get into funding and managing a team – what inspired the shift?
I had the tremendous opportunity to help a woman with a great deal of talent, Mary Maroon, realize her dream to bridge the gap from top Elite racing in NorCal to racing as a Professional woman. I wondered why it took so long and learned that you have to get results in races where the other Professional Women race. Accomplishing this on a team with one or two women at that level is very difficult. In a way this inspired me to create a team that allowed for those racing (and results) opportunities. California Giant Racing Team is a model on the men’s side. Stevens Bikes p/b Pactimo seeks to provide the women in NorCal with a similar path.
Has the experience been harder or easier than you expected?
Much easier. I was very fortunate to convince Susannah Breen, 2011 NCNCA Premier Series Winner, to be Team Captain and help form the team. Susannah is well-respected and was able to recruit every woman we identified in NorCal for our first season except for two women who both landed professional rides. Several of the women have wanted to race together on the same team for some time. On the planning side, I was very fortunate to recruit Judd Van Sickle to DS for the team. Judd has forgotten more about racing than I know.
What races will your team target this year?
We have a mixture of NCNCA and NRC races on which we are focusing. The NCNCA Premier Series, which has added a team category for Elites, is a serious goal this season. These should also be the well-attended and competitive races in NorCal this year. In addition we are racing Merco, San Dimas, Sea Otter and Cascade Classic. We anticipate invitations to guest ride at NRC races.
Even though you love your entire squad a few of the names are new – who should we watch?
That is a tough one. Every woman on our team can win a top NorCal race. I could write a paragraph about the awesomeness of every team member but I’ll limit my comments to those who will improve the most this season. Mary Ellen Ash is an amazing talent and although a proven winner in NorCal I think she is about to have a big year. We have two women who are fairly new to racing that have huge talent and an unknown upside, Fiona Strouts and Heather Lipana (Heather won Cal Aggie Criterium today against some big names in NorCal – a victory from teamwork). Those are just three. Any of the remaining five could be a stand out this year. That is the benefit of a strong and talented team.
You’ve had a long history on the volunteer side – how does it feel to be “In control” so to speak?
In a way, the two are internally consistent as they are both driven by love for the sport. Funding the team seems right as it allows me to insure that the mission of the team related to cooperative tactical racing and placing women in the professional peloton do not get lost among divided interests. In a way, this is probably the best investment I have ever made as I already have a pay-off. Every woman on this team is an individual that I respect as a person first, a woman and a bike racer. I have truly bought a front row seat to one of the best events in NorCal history, the development of an awesome women’s team.
Lot’s of people think about putting a team together – do you have any skills from you day job that apply?
I have been fortunate enough to be an executive-level employee at many companies and have developed and/or acquired two management skills that are most relevant. Ability to define a clear goal/vision and communicate the same is key to getting buy-in and commitment. Confidence in leadership comes from management experience. These skills transfer.
What have you enjoyed most about this experience so far?
Watching the girls bond and get excited about racing together. Although some have raced for years, their enthusiasm, common admiration and mutual trust far exceeds anything I have seen from a men’s team (I have seen pretty cool men’s teams). These women are fun and I am having fun watching them play.
Do you have a new or existing elite team that is going to make waves this year? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can tell your story.
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