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What do a professional surfer, an ultra-runner and an Olympic medalist have in common? No, it’s not a trick question. They all ride a Pinarello gravel bike. New for 2021, Pinarello U.S. has started the Scuderia Pinarello, an ambassador program shaking up the norms of who represents the sport of cycling, with faces both familiar and fresh.
In Italian, Scuderia means, appropriately enough for a group of gravel riders backed by a legendary Italian cycling brand, “stable” or “team.” The outfit brings together eight athletes from diverse backgrounds. Some are primarily known for cycling, including gravel cyclist and winner of the DK 200 (now called UNBOUND Gravel) Amity Rockwell, Olympic time trial silver medalist and UCI time trial world champion Mari Holden, multiple-time Canadian national champion Adam Roberge and former professional rider Jess Cerra. Jamie Bestwick adds cycling experience of a different flavor, having won 14 X Games gold medals in BMX. And a couple of the athletes are best known for other pursuits, but also love riding. Meredith Edwards has found success as an elite ski mountaineer and ultra-runner, having podiumed at events like the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc. And while you’re likely to find surfer Kai Lenny tearing up big waves in Hawaii, fewer people know that he is also a passionate cyclist.
There’s good reason for the eclectic mix. “Our mission with the Scuderia is to welcome all people to discover their potential on a bike,” said Kim Rogers, senior marketing manager at Pinarello. “We very intentionally selected a team of ambassadors who represent a wide swath of the cycling spectrum and who are committed to helping motivate others to tap into the power of riding bikes.”
That focus beyond just results, on motivating more people to take up cycling, means ambassadors like Anthony Carter are a perfect fit. Carter is the director of the Getting It In Cyclists club, a club in the Baltimore area supporting Black cyclists, which has over 5,000 people in its meetup.com group. This year, Carter is focusing on becoming a certified USA Cycling Coach, while training for the UNBOUND Gravel 100.
Support for fellow cyclists is happening within the Scuderia Pinarello, as well. This year, Carter will be mentored by Mari Holden. “He’s just starting in the sport but he has a great club system out there in Baltimore,” said the former Olympian. “I’m going to be mentoring him with his coaching program and his club and his personal development as a cyclist. That for me is really fun because it touches on a lot of the things I care about.”
With her professional racing days behind her, Holden, 49, says this partnership is perfectly aligned with what she wants to accomplish at this stage in her life. She says she has the freedom “to highlight the things I’m interested in, which is getting kids on bikes, more women in the sport and diversifying our sport.”
Each of the eight ambassadors brings their own goals to the ambassador program. “That’s what attracted me to it initially, is that we’re not out to find the people who can occupy the top three podium spots of the races,” said Amity Rockwell, 27. “That being said, obviously as somebody trying to make some headway into the sport, the number one priority for me is results.”
It’s not all about racing for Rockwell, though. She will also be working on a personal project this year, “Fast Friends,” a Discord server (a kind of non-work-related Slack channel or forum) for women and nonbinary cyclists to share tips and information. “I just wanted a way for women and nonbinary people to communicate on a very basic level, because I think it’s that simple,” she said. “If more of us talked to each other, if more of us shared things, whether it’s advice or like actual physical things, I think that’s where progress happens on a faster scale.”
Look for Scuderia members at a number of gravel events big and small in 2021, including The Last Best Ride, organized by Scuderia member Jess Cerra, TransRockies Gravel Royale and UNBOUND Gravel.