Norwegian sport director Martin Vestby will make his first appearance with Mitchelton-SCOTT this weekend at Omloop het Nieuwsblad having joined the outfit for the 2018 season to work alongside Gene Bates.
With extensive knowledge of women’s cycling, Vestby brings fresh ideas and a new input which Mitchelton-SCOTT believe will lift the team even further in the coming years.
“Certainly I can see this year that this team has a lot more strength and depth now,” Vestby said. “I know a lot of the girls from the start and then they were younger and learning, now they are stepping up and getting the big results themselves. You can expect a lot more from them now compared to just a couple of years ago.”
“The feeling I have is now these riders are developed enough to be able to control races, they don’t have to follow and can now execute tactics they want and are really able to win. What I can hope I can help with and where I see maybe there can be changes, is with this way of racing. It is also a bit of a mentality and something you have to learn so I hope I can play a part in developing that and help the girls to take those steps.
“It is also about knowledge, communication and having clear plans. It is the right time now for these girls, there’s more girls who can win races. This team is so established and settled which is good to step into but I know I will need to learn about everybody well and the systems they use. I have to create and earn my respect from the riders in the way I am working and I am really excited about this year.”
A former rider himself and the husband of former team rider Emma Johansson, Vestby has been a part of many successful performances and knows the team, staff and women´s cycling world well.
“It almost feels like coming home a little bit, those years when Emma was racing for the team I helped out a little bit sometimes with bottles and things, it is a team that is like a big family,” Vestby explained. “So for me it is relaxed but also a step up, it is a really good well organised team and it is bigger than what I am used to.”
“I was working last year with Wiggle-High5, also the Swedish national team combined with a continental team in Sweden, and with the Norwegian U23 and junior boys team. Before that with Hitec-Products for three years at the start, so I have done a little bit of everything really. I have been so close to women’s cycling for a while, you understand it and know a lot of the races and all these things.”
Like everyone, `opening weekend´ is the perfect opportunity for Vestby and Bates to take initial stock ahead of the 2018 European season.
“It is always surprising before the first race of the year, people are always wondering how other riders form is, riders are in new teams so there’s always something different and it makes the first races so special. I’ve seen what the riders did in Australian but coming here to Europe it is always a bit different with the field of riders and the rhythm of the races.”