Traveling the CX Circuit
Dispatch from CX Nats: SRAM’s Richard Breininger Part of Tech Crew that Keeps Pro Athletes Racing
Go to a major U.S. cyclocross race and you’ll likely see SRAM’s Richard Breininger. You’ll see him carrying a clean bike toward the pits. You’ll see him pounding in tent stakes or standing in a cloud of mist with a power washer. And you’ll definitely see him wrenching bikes.
This weekend, Richard is supporting SRAM-sponsored elite athletes at the USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championships in Asheville, N.C. He’s is part of a highly trained (and highly traveled) department within SRAM that helps add a human face and touch to the SRAM groupsets, Zipp wheels, and Quarq power meters provided to sponsored professional and select amateur teams and athletes in road racing, cyclocross, and triathlon. Richard and his compatriot Dan Stefiuk focus on teams/athletes in the United States, while Jason Phillips and Thorsten Wilhelms handle duties in Europe. As technical liaisons, these four play a crucial, multifaceted role helping pro athletes get the most out of SRAM components… and, in turn, helping SRAM develop more innovative components through product feedback provided by those professionals.
“Richard is just so thorough with everything he does,” said Elle Anderson, a pro cyclocross racer with SRAM-Strava. “He understands what an athlete needs mentally as well as logistically with equipment and everything. He’s someone I respect and have confidence in that he understands where I’m coming from.”
Richard at last fall's Derby City Cup in Louisville, Ky.
At a race such as U.S. CX Nationals, a single Elite racer on a smaller budget “fly in-fly out” program typically has two or three bikes. A bigger team like Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld, they have up to six bikes for each rider. That combined with a muddy course equals lots of work. One of the biggest factors to manage is the number of wheels and tire combos sometimes eight sets per rider.
“Cyclocross definitely is much more equipment intensive,” Richard said. “You’re tuning the bike up six to seven times a day, where with road racing it’s set up the night before and you’re usually good to go for the whole day.” Richard added that the transition to SRAM 1x Force 1 single-chain ring system has made maintaining bikes quicker and easier. “It simplifies the system and makes it a lot easier to maintain the bike.”
It’s a career Richard sought. The Chicago-area native first became interested in completive cycling as a sophomore at the University of Southern Illinois in Carbondale, Ill. “I had a college professor who got me into riding. It more or less pulled me away from the party scene,” Richard said. He raced road and cyclocross, and after college worked as a bike-shop mechanic in St. Louis and Dallas. In his role at SRAM, Richard travels 30 to 40 percent of the time. His duties back in SRAM HQ in Chicago include placing equipment orders for teams – no small task.
“He’s been there to help us,” said Stu Thorne, team manager for Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld. “He’s come to the shop sometimes when we’re doing bike builds. He’s helped out with getting us up to speed on certain things. He’s always been there to support us if we need parts. He’s knows his way around. He’s done this for a long time. It’s nice to have somebody with that capacity.”
At this weekend’s CX Nats in Asheville, just look for Richard near the red SRAM truck and trailer…
Photos by Wil Matthews Photo