What does a Škoda Superb offer a women cyclists’ team?
It’s not just the stickers adorning the car that give it a unique look – it’s also the bicycles in special racks on the roof, up to 8 at a time. There’s even space on the roof for a set of spare bikes.
It’s inside the car that things get really busy, though. For the team’s sporting directors, the car is a kind of mobile coaching bench. The crew in the car escorts the cyclists from the start of a race to the finish. Sporting director no. 2 (SD2) drives, with sporting director no. 1 (SD1) beside him in the passenger seat. It is mainly the latter who keeps his eyes on the race at all times, while also using a mobile phone to see the latest weather forecast and a tablet with the VeloViewer app to check up on course information. Thanks to a satellite antenna on the roof, the car’s infotainment system also shows a live broadcast of the race. The sporting directors have two walkie-talkies, one for receiving information from the race director and the other for passing on information to the riders.
The team mechanic sits in the back. “In some rival teams’ cars the mechanic is hunched up in a cramped position, but our car has enough room to let our mechanic sit in comfort,” says Ronny Lauke, director of the Canyon//SRAM team. Next to the mechanic there is a set of spare wheels, a toolkit and other equipment. He can easily reach back into the luggage compartment, where there is a cool-box that can hold up to 55 drink bottles, more spare parts and tools, as well as bags containing “wet gear” the mechanic can give to the riders if it starts raining.
“We spend around seven or eight hours in the car on an average race day, so it’s important that it’s spacious and comfortable,” explains Lauke. The Škoda Superb iV satisfies those requirements perfectly – even though it’s full of equipment, it’s not bursting at the seams and everything is easy to reach. “We chose the Superb because it’s practical and reliable,” Lauke confirms. From February to September last year, the team notched up over 40,000 kilometres without any problems. The team director also appreciates the car’s LED Matrix headlights, sports seats and even the umbrella stored in a compartment in the door.
Ronny Lauke, director of the Canyon//SRAM team, with the fully loaded Škoda Superb Combi iV
Canyon//SRAM is a women’s professional cycling team that participates in the Women’s World Tour cycling events of the International Cycling Union (UCI), as well as other events. The team for the 2023 season consists of 15 cyclists from nine countries. They are: Ricarda Bauernfeind and Antonia Niedermaier (Germany), Shari Bossuyt (Belgium), Neve Bradbury, Tiffany Cromwell and Sarah Roy (Australia), Elise Chabbey (Switzerland), Chloé Dygert (USA), Alex Morrice and Alice Towers (Great Britain), Kasia Niewiadoma and Agnieszka Skalniak-Sójka (Poland), Soraya Paladin (Italy), and Pauliena Rooijakkers and Maike van der Duin (Netherlands).
Responsive and assured handling
A car that’s usually close to the peloton must be very responsive and have good handling, according to Lauke. And the adaptive chassis is a godsend: not only does it make the cobblestone surface of the Paris–Roubaix race bearable for the crew, but it also gives the driver confidence when negotiating the hairpins of Alpine roads. And you might be surprised to learn that at least one of the car’s driver assist systems is crucial as well. “Front Assist is a great help in race convoys and has come to our rescue on more than one occasion,” Lauke says.
The team’s Superb Combi iV was presented by former professional cyclist, coach and sports commentator Matt Stephens.
Of course, the power system is also a key factor. “It’s smooth and powerful. We can go electric when we need to, but at other times the combustion engine drive is more suitable – it’s up to us,” says Lauke. What’s more, the plug-in hybrid system is ideal given the infrastructure for the world of professional cycling.
The future is all-electric
For the future, though, the team is looking at the possibility of using all-electric cars. And some of the riders have already tried them out. “Spending a lot of time in the mountains has definitely made me think about my carbon footprint and how I can lead a greener life. An electric car seems like a great first step in that direction, and my research into this convinced me that the Škoda Enyaq iV was the best solution,” says team member Kasia Niewiadoma. She tried out the electric SUV herself and can’t praise it enough for its spaciousness, comfort and easy charging. Its powerful and smooth drive certainly wouldn’t be out of place in the racing stages.
The Škoda Superb is one of the Czech carmaker’s most important and visible models. Now in its third generation, the model that has been made at the Kvasiny plant since 2015 as a liftback and estate underwent a facelift in 2019. Based on the MQB platform, the spacious car offers a wide range of turbocharged powertrains with outputs ranging from 110 to 206 kW. Petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid versions are available. The Superb boasts unrivalled space for passengers and luggage, making it the ideal team car for a professional cycling tour.