On the road with SRAM NRS at the Amgen Tour of Calfifornia...
Ask SRAM NRS chief Mark Niemiec how big of a staff he has at the Amgen Tour of California and he flashes a small wry smile. “Thousands,” he said.
It just seems that way.
Throughout the weeklong men’s race as well as the Amgen Tour of California Women’s Race empowered with SRAM, the distinctive red SRAM NRS cars and motorcycles with their red-clad technicians seem to be everywhere. At the race start interacting with fans. In the race caravan. Behind the breakaway. By the time trial start house.
All Photos by Jordan Clark Haggard
SRAM NRS – for SRAM Neutral Race Support – is at the ready to help any rider, regardless of what team he or she is on, or what gear he or she rides, with any technical need. This is especially crucial when a rider’s team car is not nearby for a needed wheel change or mechanical issue. Simply put, SRAM NRS saves riders’ races. We tasked photographer Jordan Clark Haggard with roaming California along with SRAM NRS this week to capture some of the faces and images of this amazing crew at work.
At the Amgen Tour of California, SRAM NRS has a crew of 12 pro drivers and technicians for the men’s race and six for the women’s race. The men’s race is covered by three cars and two motorcycles. The women's race is covered with two cars and one motorcycle.
Planning is crucial in preparation to service the mechanical needs of the modern peloton. SRAM NRS techs study the equipment used by each team in the race. This includes whether they are riding rim or disc-brake bikes, or both. They also must be prepared to change wheels with different sized brake rotors and both quick releases and thru axle. SRAM NRS provides complete bikes with Canyon Ultimate framesets, SRAM RED eTap, Zipp rim and disc-brake wheels, Zipp Service Course SL handlebars, stems, seatposts, and Zipp’s Tangente tires. The crew also has a full array of wheels for inevitable flat tires. The “jumper” is the crew member who jumps out of the car or moto to help the rider.
SRAM NRS is led by veteran technician Mark Niemiec, who has more than 20 years' experience.
SRAM NRS not only services pro races including the Amgen Tour of California. The crew is present at cycling events across the country. If you’ve ever raced a bike, there’s a chance TJ Grove has saved your day more than once.
Crew member Roger Bennett has 15 years’ experience in NRS work, including not just bike races but events such as the Kona Ironman World Championship in Hawaii. He’s a former Division I track athlete who still tries to get out for early morning runs amid his busy schedule working neutral race support.
NRS work involves many hours behind the wheel, or the bars.
SRAM NRS’ flashy new Zipp wheels attract plenty of attention. In the end, cycling is about being outdoors having fun. We thank all of the racers and fans for all of the fun interactions over the years.