2008 U.S. National Criterium and Road Champion, Brooke Miller (Team TIBCO/To The Top), is thinking of Europe…and right now her focus is on the upcoming Ronde van Vlaanderen Vrouwen, the Women’s Tour of Flanders.
“Tour of Flanders is a huge goal for me,” said Miller of her upcoming European schedule. “It is my favorite race of all time. It was the first race I did in Europe in 2007. It was a sprint for 6th that she was going for and then hit the deck. It was such an epic race. It’s historic, it’s burly, it’s hard, it’s grueling, it doesn’t do great for little waifs who go flying up hill and humiliate me (laughs). It’s just Flanders….gritty, raw and so much fun! It’s a magical race.”
Tour of Flanders is often rated as the toughest Classic race with a 119.3km course and nine steep cobbled climbs. The women will ride the Kluisberg followed by the Knokteberg. Then join the men’s Ronde course in the approach to the Eikenberg. For the remaining 60 kilometres, the women will share the same roads as the men taking in the Molenberg, Leberg, Berendries, Tenbosse, Muur-Kapelmuur and Bosberg en route to the finish. Weather is always a factor at Flanders, and this year there is a 50% chance of rain
Joining Miller in Belgium will be Team TIBCO teammates; Ruth Corset, Jo Kiesanowski, Megan Guarnier, Emma Mackie, and Devon Haskell. (See Flanders Start List)
“Most of the races we are doing in Europe this year are good power sprint type races. You are on the rivet for 3-4 hours and then you have to sprint. Those are all big focuses for me. Flanders is very much the shining star.”
Team TIBCO is the only American women’s UCI registered team, a long time goal for team founder Linda Jackson. “When the team was first getting started I helped Linda with the sponsorship materials. I learned a lot about how hard it is to build and grow a team,” commented Miller. “The fact that she has been able to do this is nothing short of astounding. I have a great appreciation of how hard Linda has worked to get the license. I don’t think there is a person out there better equipped to put together something like this than Linda.”
“I am so euphoric about the team’s UCI license,” continued Miller. “It has been a goal for the team for a couple of years now. This year we will be in Europe part time but full-time next year to prep for the London Olympic Games. The ultimate goal is the London Games.”
“I am going to be in Europe until the 26th of April. I am not slated to do Tour de l’Aude this year. We have other rider who will fly out to that race. They took me out of the Tour de l’Aude because it’s such a climber’s course and we have some riders who can make a bigger impact. I am scheduled to do Tour of Gila. For 2010, we just have one spring block in Europe.
Miller came into Merco Cycling Classic and Redlands Bicycle Classic extremely fit and looking less like a sprinter and more like a climber. “In my off season I go into ‘fat camp’ mode,” explained Miller. “I try to lose weight. ‘Fat camp’ for me is no alcohol, no desserts, no fried food, and no recreational butter (laughs). I eat really healthy anyway. I think it’s unhealthy to worry about what you eat once the season starts. It can put you on that slippery slope of too much food obsession. It’s not mentally healthy. I am very careful of what I eat in the off season and during the season I simply listen to my body. I eat when I am hungry and I don’t eat when I am not hungry. I brought my body weight down but do not want to lose any more. I was trying to lean down but not to the point of losing my power. I am always working on my climbing and I am working on my time trialing because it is a weakness of mine. I never want to sacrifice my sprints…my power.”
Miller has also been very active working with Team TIBCO’s developmental squad. “It’s so much fun mentoring our developmental squad,” said Miller with a huge smile. “These are women who all have careers, who live in the Bay Area, older women. They are very remarkable women. I like them all personally a lot. In the local races, which I do for training, I can tell and show them how to race. For me it’s s much fun. The reason I do this and ride and is because I love my bike so much. I love cycling so much. When we are racing at this level, not every day is a good day in the office. There are times when it’s good to be around people who are 100% positive. Our developmental riders are very enthusiastic. Every single race is exciting for them and it’s great to be reminded of this. For selfish reasons….I just absorb their positive energy.”
“Domestically I will shift back to Gila to support my team and of course Philly. Philly is always high on the list of races that matter to me.”
“The ultimate goal this year is to qualify for Worlds. I hear rumor that it is a power sprinter’s course. (Geelong Road Circuit is 15.9km. Women do 8 laps.) That is perfect for me. I am focused to be on form for Worlds.”