This year marks road season number fourteen for Tiffany Cromwell but for gravel, it’s the CANYON//SRAM Racing rider’s second season only. Tiffany starts her 2022 gravel campaign today at Belgian Waffle Ride – San Marcos, in California.
After an unusually late start to the road season, her first race was Strade Bianche in March, Tiffany says its been a good start to the 2022 season.
“The only disappointing race from my spring was Strade Bianche. I didn’t quite get my preparation right and wasn’t happy with my overall performance and what I could do for the team. With more training weeks and a busy block of back to back World Tour races, my form improved. I could contribute a lot more to the team and play in the business end of the bike race. It was satisfying to finish the classics with a really strong performance at Paris Roubaix Femmes avec Zwift.”
Now, on the eve of her second gravel season, Tiffany is more confident about what lies ahead and says she can take many learnings from her experiences last year when she was a relative newcomer to gravel.
“I definitely learned a lot from my 2021 gravel season. The biggest things would be focussing more on my fuelling strategy and learning how to deal with the early starts better; my body struggled with that last season. I learned to not be afraid to play the long game. The big races are super long. So if you don’t cook yourself too early there are opportunities to fight back later in the race even if the front runners went up the road early. Then, not overloading the bike with too much extra weight as I found that made it much harder to move the bike.”
Today, Tiffany will race the women’s elite in San Marcos for the first time but has fond memories of winning the Belgian Waffle Ride in Lawrence, Kansas at the end of last year. Other upcoming events on her calendar include Grinduro Mt Shasta in California and SBT GRVL in Steamboat Springs.
“For me, I’ll target all the gravel races. I’m not doing so many so it’s easy to focus 100% on each individual race. The Belgian Waffle Ride and SBT GRVL are proper, hardcore gravel races, versus the Grinduro events which have timed segments but outside of that it’s all about enjoying the race and scenery. I want to fight for podiums. There is a lot more depth in gravel now so I’m aware that getting on the podium will be hard, but I’m ready for the challenge,” explains Tiffany.
“At some of the events, I won’t be racing the longest race as the distance can be too long to be beneficial to my road racing. I don’t want to become a diesel rider on the road and so there will be times I choose the shorter courses. I really enjoy being an ambassador for our team’s partners at these events. There are a lot of community events that happen around the race which I enjoy being a part of.”
With her success in combining road and gravel in 2021, Tiffany is confident she can maintain the equilibrium again this year.
“I think I have a good balance between road and gravel. It worked well last year. And the program we’ve set for this year I think will be good. Road racing is still my priority. We’ve planned my schedule that I do blocks of road races for a couple of months, then a month of gravel in May and again in August. I’ll add more gravel races at the end of the season too. I’m excited and I’m sure this gravel program we have will continue to be beneficial to my road racing and keeps me motivated and feeling fresh each time I come back to the road.”
The women’s race at Belgian Waffle Ride San Marcos starts at 07:15PDT on Saturday 30 April and can be followed on Instagram at @puregravel.