• Emily Herfoss (R) and Peta Mullens of Roxsolt Attaquer at the 2020 Women's Tour Down Under (Mason Hender/Roxsolt Attaquer)Source: Mason Hender/Roxsolt Attaquer
Roxsolt-Attaquer is a team that does things differently, from upsetting the larger teams on the results sheet to upending the normal team structure within the sport.
By
Jamie Finch-Penninger

19 Jan 2020 - 9:26 AM  UPDATED 19 Jan 2020 - 9:34 AM

The officious figure of a sports director issuing instructions to a rider, athletes bundled into vans at the end of races where they’ve had little say in the process or much other than how they’ll pedal their bike between the start and finish. Those are the traditional operating procedures of cycling.

But Roxsolt-Attaquer is challenging those ingrained methods with a more democratic and rider-focused model.

Founder, part-owner and main sponsor of the team through his information and cyber security business, Roxsolt, Kelvin Rundle is the man behind the women’s team, now in its seventh year of existence.

The team used to be a haven for professional riders from overseas teams who didn’t have any support roadside when they came to race here. For many seasons now, they’ve been a year-round team, with an international schedule alongside their racing in Australia.

Rundle talked to Cycling Central about the process of Rosxolt-Attaquer becoming a unique team model within cycling.

“I was talking with Peta Mullens back in August 2018 about… well about a lot of things, but mostly about what she wanted to do next season,” said Rundle. “She’d just bought Moroni Cycles (with husband Jarrod) and she wanted to bring more young riders into the squad and adopt more of a mentor role.”

“For me, personally, I’ve ticked all the boxes. I’ve been to Europe twice, had Oceania champions, national champions, winning Bay Crits, all sorts of race. Now, it’s not about me, it’s all about the riders.”

The most high-profile rider to headline the project was Mullens, herself a business owner with her husband Jarrod Moroni and now part-owner within Roxsolt. Mullens has been a gun rider for hire in the past, with her mix of road, mountain bike and cyclocross seeing her wear the colours of dozens of teams and sponsors.

“Previously, I’ve been on many different teams and I’ve enjoyed my times with riders but I also enjoyed the process of being a privateer,” said Mullens. “With the influence of Kelvin, we sat down and had a discussion about having a team that was very rider run.

“We poll the team in regards to race selection, teammate selection, that kind of stuff. This year, Justine Barrow and I have stepped up alongside him as directors to influence the decisions and make it even more rider-based.”

Justine Barrow - The one rider who matched it with Mitchelton
An early attack illuminated the action during the elite womens road race, with two-time national champion Amanda Spratt and WorldTour teammate Grace Brown showing their strength to fly clear of the peloton.

The modern elements of social communication make garnering this rider input easier, and putting the decisions into the riders’ hands sees other benefits from Mullen’s perspective.

“Because we’re choosing the races, it easier to get in the mindset that we’re doing the right races for ourselves and we let riders have a very flexible calendar,” said Mullens. “So if they want to race all the NRS, no NRS, just in America, just in Europe, that’s completely up to them. We don’t push anyone to do races that they don’t want to do.

“We want to keep happiness watts within the team.”

The rider consultation process hasn’t seen any major problems within the first season of its operation and going into 2020, the only surprises, positive ones.

“I think I’m surprised that people tend to under-commit and then over-deliver in the team,” said Mullens. “It says that they’re really enjoying their time together and the racing that they’re doing. It’s really nice and validates the time and effort that Kelvin, Justine and I put into the team.”

While the team identifies itself as a development squad and contains a number of young riders again in 2020, that hasn’t stopped Rundle and Mullens from dreaming big about the potential race schedule for the next few years.

“We’ve got some crazy ideas for the next few years,” said Rundle. “Maybe not (2020) but Peta has made it clear that she wants to have a go at the spring classics again, and I think we’ve got a good team for those one-day races.

“I’d love to see Roxsolt-Attaquer lining up at the Tour of Flanders.

“I think you’ve got to set those big, scary goals to have something to work towards. The other big one is the Giro Rosa. I think it would be amazing to have an all-Australian team ride the Giro Rosa.”

For Mullens, a rider who has tasted the peak of road racing with Wiggle-Honda and Hagens Berman-Supermint in the past, another chance at the classics will be nice, but better still will be the chance to blood new riders into the prestigious races.

“I’ve done the spring classics before and I’d love for the younger riders to have that opportunity,” Mullens. “We’re really big on ticking off ‘bucket list’ races, we don’t aspire to be a number one UCI team or anything like that, we’re giving the girls an opportunity to race their bike, work their job at home and spend time with family and friends. Combining all of that into a happy lifestyle.”

With ‘happiness watts’ continuing to push the team into the future, Roxsolt-Attaquer’s big ambitions will have to find a way to marry competitiveness with happiness. If results to date are any indication however, it should be a smooth process.