After a successful year being the sports director at WNT – ROTOR Pro Cycling, leading the team to victories at Setmana Ciclista Valenciana, Lotto Thüringen Ladies Tour and The Tour Series to name but a few, British sports director, Graeme Herd has decided to leave the team with immediate effect. Whilst we are very disappointed to lose Graeme as a member of staff, WNT – ROTOR Pro Cycling fully supports his decision.
The team have acted fast, with the spring classics just around the corner, and have recruited former professional, Dirk Baldinger from Freiburg, in the South of Germany.
Having ridden two editions of each, the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a Espana amongst many other major races in the professional world, Baldinger brings a wealth of experience both as a rider and as a sports director.
"I feel very comfortable that I will now be a part of the team. In my own career, I was a professional cyclist in the 90’s with an Italian team called Polti before spending two years at Team Telekom. After I retired from professional cycling in 2001, I was a Directeur Sportif for some smaller teams. However, in 2015 I went back to the cycling world, this time within women’s cycling, something which was new to me, because first, you only know the male world of cycling, then having worked with female professionals, it was very interesting for me. Women’s professional cycling is becoming more famous, with an increase of live coverage for races, I am glad to be here and be able to support the team.”
“I have a lot of ideas in my mind for 2018, having spent the last 3 days with the team, we have everything we need, maybe we need to make some small changes, because in their [riders] mind, everyone wants to be professional, so I want to help them be professional. Every year, we’ll make small changes to become better professional bike riders.”
Dirk will start working with the team with immediate effect, with his first race being Drentse Acht van Westerveld in the Netherlands.
“When I start next week, we’ll start slowly, with a good plan, and we’ll see what happens and what needs to be changed quickly or what things are already good, then step by step we want to grow the team.”
“Sometimes I know the races on the calendar having ridden them in my professional career, it’s always useful to know the roads, it gives us an advantage beforehand. You also must look at what assets you have in your team, if you have a sprinter, or general classification rider, or some young riders. You must learn a lot about the young riders because if they come directly from the junior ranks to a professional team, you must introduce a lot of small things to them, but these small things are important during your career to be a good pro. Within cycling there’s some un-written rules but everyone knows them, sometimes the younger riders don’t know this, they’re physically good, but they don’t know the ‘rules’ of pro cycling, ‘how can I win races or stages in a tour’, maybe you cycle every day at home in your region, then you go to race in Belgium, there are cobble stones, it’s a different style of riding to what you’re used to, bigger climbs and more kilometres, which you’ve never done before. These are the small things you need to learn being a professional, everybody has to learn.”
Dirk speaks 5 languages, and with 10 riders in the team, 6 nationalities, and multiple different languages spoken, he says
“First, I was a rider in Italy, I lived there 3 years, so my first language to speak from cycling was Italian, I learnt English because it was the second language at school in Germany, then I married my wife, she speaks Spanish, so I speak a lot of cycling languages. At home where I live, it’s around 10km to France, so a little bit of French, like numbers and the food. I also speak different dialect.”
When asked how women’s cycling has grown in the last few years, Dirk said,
“Few people support female cyclists, but the riders want to be professional, the world is watching now, in women’s sport generally, for example football, first male football was all you saw on television but now women’s football is becoming increasingly popular. Everybody accepts that women’s professional sport is increasing, it’s like a business, everyone can ride a bike, the family, with their children, everyone knows how to ride a bike. Women’s cycling is shorter in duration and kilometres, but everyone who wants to be a professional all want to do it with 100% effort, they are full time, you don’t have time for another job outside of cycling, you have to give 100% whilst following the rules of cycling, to train a lot, sleep, eat, all the good things which make you the best bike rider, it’s the same in the men, but only in female, it’s a little less kilometres but in the end to win races it’s the same process.”
WNT – ROTOR Pro Cycling welcomes Dirk to the team, and we look forward to working with him in 2018.