We recently caught up with Kelvin Rundle, the man working hard behind the scenes as the team owner, primary sponsor and Directeur Sportif of National Road Series team Roxsolt-Attaquer
Words - Stu Moysey . Images - Supplied
The life of a team owner isn’t as glamorous as the name suggests, you will find him working hard behind the scenes fixing bikes, filling bidons, finding sponsors and acting as the team’s travel agent to make sure everyone gets where they need to be.
Now in their second year, Roxsolt-Attaquer are arguably one of the most vibrant teams in the Subaru NRS peloton with their bold fairy bread inspired, Attaquer designed kit they are unmissable in the bunch.
A passionate cyclist himself, Rundle has been a keen advocate, supporter and influencer on the Aussie domestic racing scene aiming to raise the standard and define what it means to manage an NRS team whilst providing his riders with pathways to help launch their career.
He has been able to attract some big name guest riders to his team, including Tiff Cromwell, Chloe Hosking, Lauren Kitchen, Peta Mullens and Valentina Scandolara!
The team finished up a promising European campaign last week with Rylee McMullen, in her first year of racing, finishing 27th in the general classification out of 183 riders. The team finished 9th out of 29 teams in total.
Every race day in Europe they 3-4 riders in the front group and the fact Roxsolt-Attaquer was able to just turn up and race a 5-stage, 4-day tour and be competitive against the strong European teams really showcases the depth of talent in Australian women's cycling.
Why did you decide to start a women’s racing team?
I started the team because I felt that we needed another strong, competitive team in Australia to help grow the sport of cycling and to make racing interesting. The first few seasons we just raced the summer of cycling, and we were the 3rd team up against the likes of Orica-SCOTT and Wiggle.
We are not a big team in terms of funding like some of those around us, but I was hoping we could show the potential of what running a team could offer and also encourage others to get involved in the sport either as supporters or to start racing themselves. To have a vibrant NRS we really need 5 or 6 strong teams.
Since then we have done OK, being the only team (male or female) to win Shimano Super Crit 3 times and we have also won a stage of the Mitchelton Bay Classic. In 2016 we evolved the team to racing year round and our focus has changed to supporting development riders who for whatever reason don't fit into the more established High Performance pathway. We have already raced in Europe and had our first UCI Stage race podium.
Favourite post-ride coffee spot?
I don't get to ride outside often and when I do it is usually with the team. We are about to head back to Europe so there is only one coffee shop in Varnsdorf where we stay in the Czech Republic but luckily for us its a pretty decent one. It's called Hosana Cafe.
Closer to home I really enjoy hanging out at the Bright Brewery each year when we go down for the Tour of Bright. I also like to call into the cellar door at Sam Miranda in the King Valley and see Marty and Sam when we are passing through. They are both big supporters of the sport and the coffee and food is amazing. If it's a sunny day you can sit outside and look out over the vines.
Who’s your favourite local rider and why?
That's a tough question, especially since if I don't answer one of my riders I'm sure I will be in all sorts of trouble! However, I have never been the one to take the easy option. From Roxsolt Attaquer it is Sharlotte Lucas. I really think she is the next big rider to come from Oceania onto the world stage.
Pretty much the entire Holden team are killing it at the moment on the bike and they are all super nice off the bike as well. They always say hello whenever we see each other at races and their race report videos are always fun to watch. Likewise Madeleine Fasnacht is defiantly a young rider to watch, she is the U19 Oceania Road Champion. However, I am going to say Rebecca Wiasak. I know so many women who have gotten into racing inspired by Bec and her success!
What are your focuses for Roxsolt-Attaquer?
For our riders, it is all about given them a platform to hopefully launch overseas cycling careers and to represent their country. More broadly we hope we inspire and motivate others to get involved in the sport. For our race hosts we really enjoy travelling around the world and sharing the great places we get to race on Instagram. For our sponsors we actually hand pick all our sponsors, we use their products because we believe they are the best and we want to share that with everyone so they can also benefit from this.
Where does the team's kit design come from?
For the first few years Tiffany Cromwell designed our kit. This season Attaquer designed it. I had this concept of the riders being so fast that the Roxsolt logo dissolved and fell apart due to the friction of the air. Also we really like fairy bread and hundreds and thousands so I think a bit of that came into it.
The salmon colour is really bold and I wanted something that was easy to spot in the bunch. Attaquer did a limited edition of the kit, but without the sponsor logos. It sold out really quickly and I don't think we have any plans on bringing it back. It pretty out there so thanks to those who jumped in and bought it, I get a big smile when I see photos turn up on Instagram of someone riding in our kit!
Your team features riders from New Zealand and Australia, tell us about the selection process and why you have a trans-Tasman split?
Sadly New Zealand doesn't have a women's road development program at all. It's a real shame. The number of NZ riders has just grown organically from last year, NZ seems to be producing some great riders at the moment, I already have my eye on a couple for next year that I am hoping to add to the team. It's much easier being an Aussie rider, all the races are local and you can get on a team pretty easily. It's a much tougher proposition having NZ riders, it actually adds a lot of extra cost to our budget as well as complexity in terms of sponsorship and equipment. But I saw some photos the other week of some U17 women racing in our old team kit at their local club races, the next generation of road riders are coming and they are probably going to be from New Zealand!
You just finished racing in the USA and Europe, why did you chose to race there?
We run the team a bit like a co-op. All the riders get to have say in what races we do. A couple of the riders really wanted to race in the USA. We have heard so many great things about the US and how well run the races are and how good the racing is.
In addition the prize money is very attractive. Here in Australia we are lucky to get any prize money for a race these days, whereas the US races have big prize money and pay down to 15th or 20th place. I have been to the US a lot and I know how friendly America is, and some of the race locations are spectacular. We are really grateful to the organisers of the races for inviting us, especially Winston-Salem and Saint Francis Tulsa Tough. It's a big opportunity to go race, all up the team was away for nearly 3 months. The logistics (and sadly the expense) is mind boggling! We raced Winston-Salem, the Oklahoma Pro-Am, Saint Francis Tulsa Tough and the Tour of America's Dairyland. The team then heads to Europe for some more racing before back to Australia for the back end of the NRS season.
What are some of the challenges you've faced as a team? ie. attracting sponsorship dollars, work conflict with a semi-professional team etc.
Our biggest issue is the safety of our riders. We have had our riders abused and run off the road during training, we even had one rider hit by a car during training! We are big supporters of the Amy Gillett Foundation and we actually donated back our prize money from Amy's Otway Tour last year back to the AGF.
I have visited Amy's memorial in the Thuringen region in Germany on the anniversary of the accident. This is a challenge as a team owner I hope to never have to face and that no one should have to face.
Any sponsors or partners you'd like to thank for contributing to the team?
My mum. She is the silent partner of the team. Stevan and Greg from Attaquer for saying F*ck Yeah and sponsoring a women's team, the team at SRAM for setting us up with the best mech and electro group sets, the best looking bars, seatposts and stems and some sweet Zipp wheels, Pedalit for keep us clean with premium bike and body care, Cervelo for making high end bikes for small and tall riders, Davide & Brock from Italiatech for the Kask lids and Sponser sports food, Tom from Pave the Way for building bikes and fitting riders, Oakley for some custom sunnies in team colours and every rider has their name on them so no one should ever misplace theirs and Chloe McLeod who does all the teams nutrition and meal plans down to the gram!
Adrian and the team from Singapore Airlines for flying us and all our bikes around, Josephine who does all our social media and race flyers, James who helps run the team and Loren Rowney for being our super DS in the US and Europe. I also want to thank all the pro riders who have ridden for the team; Loren Rowney, Kimberley Wells, Carlee Taylor, Lucy Martin, Tiff Cromwell, Chloe Hosking, Julie Leth, Jo Hogan, Lauren Kitchen and of course Peta Mullens and Valentina Scandolara!