The Breakaway

The Race Behind the Races

How the Trek-Segafredo support team backs its riders.
By Stefanie Hoffman

When Trek-Segafredo came to the Amgen Tour of California, the largest stage race in the United States, they fielded a team of elite professionals. Yes, the seven riders waiting for the starting pistol, but also a hard-working support staff whose races begin where the cyclists’ ends.
At the starting line of Stage 7 in Santa Clarita — the final stage and last chance to place — the tension is almost palpable as team members wait on bikes gleaming in the sun. The racers fidget with their gears, sip water, adjust their helmets. Then the countdown from five, the gunshot, and hundreds of riders surge forward in a massive collage of red, green, yellow and hot pink lycra.
The focus is different, however, for the rest of the Trek staff working in the background. As soon as the riders start their 78-mile ride into the Angeles National Forest, Trek staffers hurry to meet them at the finish line in Pasadena. Two Trek cars follow the riders, carrying a coach or director, mechanic, and doctor, along with food, water and extra clothing. The rest of the staffers are in the tents near the starting and finish lines. In black jackets emblazoned with the white and red Trek-Segafredo logo, they hover anxiously in small circles, eating catered barbecue chicken sliders, following race coverage.
steven de jongh

Trek-Segafredo team staffer Steven De Jongh passes water to a rider during the 2019 Tour of California

This is their downtime. For Trek-Segafredo staffers, the race is between the races — the only time they slow down is when the cyclists are going full tilt. But when the last Trek rider crosses the finish line, support staff are already in motion, preparing for the next race. There will be new plans, new calculations and new strategies — from choosing the right bike for each rider to gauging the intensity of the course, from managing budgets to procuring the right vehicles for team travel.
There are, in fact, hundreds of constantly moving parts that have to be managed and executed flawlessly after each race. And the next. And the next.
Technology Opens New Doors
To even participate in the Tour of California, riders need to know that their equipment is in top shape. That’s where Matt Shriver, Trek technical director, comes in. “If we have problems at the race, then I haven’t done my job,” he says.
matt shriver
From where he sits in the Trek tent, Shriver side-eyes the TVs showing the mob of riders as they glide over the winding two-lane race course, while simultaneously talking over the noise of cheering crowds lining the course and the announcer’s booming voice over the loudspeaker outside.
But Shriver is accustomed to multitasking, especially with a lot of distractions. Before each stage of the Tour of California, he had already made sure that the cyclists have everything they needed — working Trek bikes, helmets, Garmin devices and other components, the right footgear and functioning lights. And on race day, he’s working with the mechanics to resolve last-minute problems in a constant pursuit of a performance edge.
Part of that strategy includes technology — choosing the right equipment, or the best tool for the race stage. “If it’s a timed trial, and they have questions about what’s the fastest wheel today, I can look at the course profile, do some analysis based off their power and wattages, and combine that with weather data and aerodynamic data, and we can really predict their time,” Shriver says. “That’s where Splunk helps us, really understanding what new opportunities there are to use that data.”
With power data mined from Garmin devices on the riders’ bikes, for example, the Splunk platform helps analyze a rider’s maximum power and how long they can sustain it so Shriver and other staff can determine pacing strategy.
“We need to know what they’re capable of, so from the data, we know their maximum power and how long they can sustain that,” Shriver says. “If your wattage is too high, you won’t make it to the finish.”
Man Behind the Curtain
Long before riders even get to the start line of Tour of California or any other race, all logistical, administrative and financial details need to be running smoothly. Freddie Stouffer, operations manager for Trek Segafredo, is the person responsible for making sure all that invisible, behind-the-scenes work comes together, with a daily agenda that includes everything from bill paying and staff logistics to budgetary needs and rider contracts.
“At any given moment, we have four race programs simultaneously running in every part of the world, and I have a large, glorified spreadsheet that puts all the moving pieces of that puzzle together,” Stouffer says from the Trek company car in between Tour of California race stages.
That’s no small feat. For Trek, like many competitive cycling teams, he has to manage an extensive, ever-growing amount of information, including training data, logistics data, race data and nutrition data, which the staff is just starting to process and analyze. “We have different data that we’ve collected over the years — how many soigneurs, how many mechanics and where the cars are kept,” Stouffer says. “But right now, I have to spell all that out. I have to put it on Excel.”
He’s not the only staffer overwhelmed by data. Currently, doctors and coaches look at this data for the riders and make well-educated guesses about what kind of care, food or training curriculum the riders need.
Stouffer says Splunk is helping to improve riders’ health and nutrition. While still in early stages of implementation, the Splunk platform has already helped staff create a more accurate picture of Trek riders, with the ability to compile and analyze basic data such as the riders’ heart rate, distance traveled, calorie needs, medical history, and race and training environment. All to help support staff improve care and predict (and prevent) injury.
“It’s really just having a deeper dive into the riders’ physical well-being, and having a deeper, and broader look at their physical capabilities,” Stouffer says. “You overlay all that data and see where it’s generating something useful for our staff, who can help those athletes succeed the next day.”
One Race Ends...
After the race, the riders convene in the Trek RV, parked in a reserved lot close to the course. They strip off gear, eat sushi and pasta, and chat with riders they know from other teams — a brief respite before it’s back to training and the next race.

Trek-Segafredo staffers watch the race pass a hospital tent on the 2019 Tour of California.

But for the support team, that next race has already begun. As the riders eat and stretch, a small army is checking over equipment and mobilizing to get the cyclists to their next starting line.
“It’s a lot of little things, but our whole job is to be there for the athlete,” Stouffer says. “We’re all there to help the athlete to go fast on race day.”
About the Author

Stefanie Hoffman is associate editor of the Splunk-Trek newsletter, The Breakaway. She covered the Tour of California live at the Morgan Hill and Pasadena stages.