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Giorgia Bronzini is no ordinary team director.
The Trek-Segafredo staffer has two road world championships gold medals and a stack of stage and one-day race victories in her illustrious palmarès. And having only retired in 2018, the 37-year-old Italian has raced shoulder-to-shoulder with many of the riders she now directs.
Alongside retired Olympian and legendary sprinter Ina-Yoko Teutenenberg, Bronzini took an all-star team including the likes of Elisa Longo Borghini and Lizzie Deignan to the top of the WorldTour table in 2020, and they’re aiming to repeat the feat this year.
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VeloNews caught up with Bronzini about how her background helps bring brilliance to Trek-Segafredo:
VeloNews: How does it feel to direct riders not much younger than you and that you so recently raced with?
Giorgia Bronzini: To start it was strange telling a rider like Ellen van Dijk, a girl I’d hidden behind in an echelon, what to do. But the girls are so professional that even a girl like [Elisa] Longo Borghini or [Audrey] Cordon Ragot that I raced with for years – and Elisa who is very close to me – they never try to go around me or ask favors from me. They always work in a professional way with me and like me guiding them. They recognize me as a friend but also respect my position, and that helps me because if I need to be hard on them, I can be. They gave me confidence step-by-step when I started here. When I was doing better they’d come and thank me for the help and that would make me know I’m doing better. So step-by-step I got more confident and that reflected in how I could direct them.
VN: What do you feel having two women’s directors on the team brings to Trek-Segafredo that may not be possible at a women’s team directed by men?
GB: I think me and Ina can be more sensible of some things than men directors. For a woman to open up to a woman is perhaps more easy than it would be if it was a man, so if riders have a problem or something they need to talk about personally, the connection is more easy. So I think I can talk to the riders differently and more easily than a man.
And me and Ina learn from each other. I’m Italian, she’s German, we grew up in different ways, so we have a different culture and way to try things, and that’s good for balance. And me and Ina collaborate really well, we’re really close and share anything. Because we both have different ways of handling things, some riders prefer to talk to one or the other, so one rider may prefer to call me rather than Ina, and vice versa. And that’s more relaxing for the riders. We’ve got the best of it because we’re both different.
VN: How does your recent experience as an active rider impact your current role?
GB: I think me and Ina were so long in the peloton, we know nearly all the peloton except the very young and new ones. So I think sometimes we understand the tactics and dynamics better than the men because we’ve been in that battle. Being a former rider I know how it feels to race, and a lot of the team were my opponents in the peloton. So I examined them then as a rider and a rival, and I learned their weakness points to try to beat them. And now I try to use that so that I can help them,
VN: And how does having the shared resource of the men’s team affect things?
GB: Working alongside the men’s team for us, and having men directors working with us, like Steven de Jongh, Kim Andersen, they teach me a lot. Me and Ina can learn the things that we don’t consider or are less good at than the guys who have worked in the men’s peloton, which can be quite different. And they help us to look at things we maybe didn’t do before because they have different experiences. But it’s the same for them, they learn from us.