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Saturday dawned on the Team Trakkers Camp in Austin, and as the squad prepared their bikes and bottles for a cruisy ride through the rolling hills, the team wondered: Would the Trek-KSwiss Tri Team take the bait?
With a tinge of audacity, the team launch Friday included a Twitter callout to America’s other new tri team. With a Twitter barrage, the squad, led by Michael Lovato, issued an upcoming $5,000 team challenge (details of which will be sorted shortly).
Rumor has it that there may be another $5,000 team bonus on offer by Trakkers for another event, as well as the possibilities of a global team series in the coming years, bringing together teams from Timex, Commerzbank, Abu Dhabi, TeamTBB, Specialized, Trek-KSwiss and others. But until then, the mano-a-mano Twitter battle between Trakkers and Trek-KSwiss raged. The weekend banter went kinda like this:
Michael Lovato: Team Trakkers is calling Trek-KSwiss to a race. “We bet $5k our team beats yours in Knoxville on May 9. Be there, or we win!”
And Trek-KSwiss’s response? Said team co-manager Nick Howe on his handle, @TrekSpeed: “Anywhere, Any time. Any day. We gladly accept.”
Julie Dibens: “Can’t sleep! Woke myself up laughing cos I dreamt I saw Michael Lovato crying like a baby at the side of the road in Knoxville! Bring it ML.”
Lovato: “Hey Julie, those were tears of joy you saw. I always get emotional after a crushing victory.”
Lovato: “Hey Julie we hope u get your mojo back soon, we don’t want Trek-KSwiss to race without their strongest athlete.”
Dibens: “Michael you are trying to kill me with kindness! I like your style … but I won’t fall for it!”
Echoes of the coming Sugar Shane Mosley/Floyd Mayweather Jr. press conference? Almost. Nothing like a good bout of friendly jaw jacking.
While in Austin for the camp, we reached Howe from the Trek-KSwiss Team to get his take on the social media callout. And he was more than pleased by it.
“From the start, we believed there was more to team triathlon than just having a team, and this is exactly the kind of thing we need,” Howe said. “It breaks us from an emerging sport to one that’s continuing to grow. It’s all in good fun, but there’s an underlying spark of competition. This lights their fires. They’re kidding, but there’s a part of them that says, OK; call me out.”
Lovato concurs that the team concept can be taken to something more than just a group of athletes in similar race kits. “What I like about what Trakkers is that they want to help bring up the level of importance that the pro triathlete brings to the game. There’s already focus, an awesome draw that comes from inspiration and family, and the “anything is possible” mantra that triathlon is embodied in. But this takes our broad AG team, taps into the resource that we all are as professionals, and balances it with a truly world-class team that is building stock in itself. It’s all good.”
Saturday was a light training day for the team. That meant an open-to-the-public rolling 30-mile loop south of Austin—a great opportunity to see the boys and girls in their green kits amid the lush green Texas countryside.
The ride served as a live test of Trakkers’ team units. Athletes were outfitted with early prototype transponders and sent on their merry way. Upon return, Trakkers marketing director Krista Baker showed athletes just how the units are able to show live tracking of each individual rider on the loop.
After the ride, team sponsor First Endurance, who not only provided the company’s EFS and EFS Liquid Shot to pro and age groupers to test pre-ride, also doled out post-ride breakfast burritos and coffee for all those who had earned it.
After the ride, the team had another training session—this time a run along Lady Bird Lake, stopping long enough to pose with a statue of Austin icon Stevie Ray Vaughan with the Austin skyline as the backdrop.