Newcomers to road cycling are often surprised and delighted to learn that it is, in fact, a team sport. The spirit of working together to achieve greater success is something that carries far beyond any finish line.
Michaela Kreuzigerová (39) is married to Roman Kreuziger, a GC contender who currently rides for Team Dimension Data. Michaela put her career as a lawyer on pause in order to support Roman full-time, as he competes at the highest level. Now, as the ultimate teammate and life mate, she travels all over Europe to the races (sometimes with kids and dogs in-tow) and has developed a passion for cycling herself. She even manages to squeeze in some time to work on her own projects (more of which later). I was lucky enough to sit down with her and learn more about the force behind ‘Team Kreuziger’.
Bikes owned: Specialized S-Works Tarmac and Specialized MTB Fate.
Tell us about how you came to enjoy riding a bike.
I used to play basketball, but I had to quit because of a knee injury. Then, because it was recommended to me as a way to improve my recovery, I started to bike on my MTB. As for road bikes, I started to ride those because of my husband Roman. He lent me a road bike when my MTB was stolen. After the first ride, I knew this was my new passion.
How would you describe your cycling style and what are your strengths?
I am not a professional, I just ride for fun. I would say I am more of an “endurance type”. I am able to ride for a long time at my own tempo. I am like my husband in that. We call it “diesel”.
You’ve mentioned in the past that you and Roman enjoy cycling together during leisure time, what does a typical ride together look like?
We cycle together only when he has a free day. For him, that means riding for just 1.5 hours. This is the maximum time we can ride together. For most of the training I ride right behind him. At the end we usually stop for a coffee and something good to eat.
Where do you think you need to improve?
I need to improve techniques and intensity. Most of the rides I go on by myself, with Roman or with my friend Chiara Pertile. I am not good in bigger groups of riders.
Have you set yourself any cycling-related goals for this year?
I am the wife of a professional rider, mum of two kids, we have two dogs. So my cycling goals cannot be very high. This year I rode the shorter route on the Maratona dles Dolomites (one of the biggest Italian Granfondo events covering seven mountain passes in the Dolomites). And I really enjoyed it. Next year I am going again, but I will try the longer route.
Has your approach/attitude to road cycling changed over time?
I’ve started to be more structured since this spring, under my coach’s supervision, and I can see progress. Road bikes and this lifestyle is my real passion. I rest on the bike. Good ideas come to my mind and I come back home happy. I won’t say relaxed, because some of my training sessions are really physically demanding, but I definitely feel restored and happy.
(author’s note - the next three questions were driven by my own personal experiences in exercising with a spouse!)
Does Roman ever try to coach you?
This year I underwent Maratona. I wanted to be ready to enjoy it and not to suffer. In January, we travelled to Gran Canaria with Roman. I started to train really hard according to the plan he had prepared for me. But after two weeks I realised it was too much, so I had to slow down.
Do you always listen to his advice?!
He is a professional and a world-class rider. So it would be silly not to listen. But – it is not always easy to fulfil the advice. I have not been riding for that many years and it is very challenging to ride as often as you need to.
Do you have any tips for married couples on how to stay sane while cycling together?
It is very important to enjoy the ride and to pay respect to each other.
You have two daughters, Viktoria (5) and Anna (2), would you encourage them if they wanted to try for a career in cycling too?
Our daughters have grown up in the cycling world. They see their dad training, they watch the races, they visit the races and they are with him on camps. So cycling is part of their lives. Viktoria rides a bike, but does other sports as well – tennis, downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, skating etc. The pair of us had a very interesting chat recently…
We were in the car and met Roman during his training ride. He held onto the car and chatted with us. When we drove on, Viktoria said to me “when I grow up, I want to be able to hold the car too! And I will compete with daddy! Because the girls always start the races before the boys.”
I replied that tennis is better – she can play in a dress. But she answered “on a bike you can wear a pink jersey.”
You were a training to be a solicitor when you met Roman, what factors led to you deciding to pause that career and join Roman’s support crew full-time?
To be a solicitor, it takes so much time. It is not unusual to spend 12 hours in the office, even on weekends. If I wanted to do it with full effort, I would not have been able to stay close to Roman. So my decision was somehow natural. I told to myself, he will compete on a top level for a few years. And then I can work till the end of my days.
Have there been times when your background in law has proved useful in your role supporting Roman?
Many times! It is not just about the law, but also about not being afraid to talk, to present your opinion in a group of people.
You must have been at so many races with Roman over the years, do you have a favourite?
The first race I accompanied Roman to was the Strade Bianche in 2012 and there have many others since then! I have two favourites: the Giro d'Italia because of the people and the ambience, and Strade Bianche because of the gravel roads and the nice finish in Siena.
On average, how many days a year would you say that you are away from home?
I would say we spend half a year at home and half a year away. But I am used to it. We’ll pack our stuff again in a while. Every year, there are moments I am looking forward to being home, but after two weeks; I am ready to travel again.
Do your daughters accompany you to each event?
I only take the kids sometimes. They were with us for a first week of Tour de France. It was very tiring for me, but they enjoyed it so much. Viktoria was at the podium to sign on with dad before the fifth stage. I hope she will preserve these memories.
Any top tips for how you stay on top of things?
I try to be patient, structured and to work hard. The outcomes will come then.
What three things can you not live without while you’re away from home?
I have to have my MacBook with me. We are rolling new cycling projects and this means I have to be in touch.
Then my bike, of course.
And finally, kids or my husband.
What sort of plans do you have for the future?
We would like to do something for cycling. We have exciting projects in our minds, like connecting professional and hobby riders, or road safety. Stay tuned, I think you will hear from us very soon.
Do you ever have the urge to get officially involved in the world of cycling? Perhaps not as a cyclist, but in another capacity?
Yes, see above.
Roman and Michaela Kreuziger recently founded Grupeto, an exclusive club that brings amateur cyclists and professional cyclists together for unique experiences. For more information visit https://www.grupeto.info