USA CRITS team profile: It’s a family affair at ISCorp
On a hot and steamy night in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the ladies of the ISCorp Pro Cycling team weren’t racing, but instead putting their feet up, eating hot dogs, and enjoying America’s greatest pastime — a Major League Baseball game — in one of the box suites.
“It’s pretty cool because [teammate] Caroline [Baur] has no idea about American baseball and it’s just a really cool experience and something I’ve never been able to do,” the team’s top sprinter Samantha Schneider said. “I normally just sit in the normal seats, so to go and be in the box and relax a little bit was pretty fun.”
The team’s owner, who also owns the company ISCorp, has a luxury suite at Miller Park, home to the Milwaukee Brewers. He recently took the ISCorp Pro Cycling team to a game for a bit of relaxation after a long first half of the season.
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Schneider, 28, is the squad’s de facto leader. As the fastest sprinter and the oldest rider on the team, she serves as a role model for the younger riders, many of whom are from outside the United States.
Baur for example, is 24 and is in her second season racing the American criterium scene. A Swiss national, she had never been to an American baseball game, and her teammates struggled to fight back laughter as she tried to figure out what was happening.
A team of sisters
The ISCorp Pro Cycling team has been around for more than 10 years and initially was composed of a junior development team, a masters team, and a women’s team.
In 2015, the Schneider family — Samantha, younger sister Skylar, and her father Dave — came on board as the program shifted toward a women’s-only team that focused on developing and helping established riders get to the next level. Samantha and Skylar boosted the team’s sprinting prowess, while Dave serves as the team’s manager.
Skylar left the program at the end of 2017 and joined Boels-Dolmans, one of the top women’s teams in the world, at just 19.
The current program has become a force on the U.S. criterium scene, finding success early and continuing the momentum year after year. The key to this success is found at the team’s core, the camaraderie among the riders is second to none.
The Schneiders have opened their home in Wisconsin to the squad’s international riders while racing in the U.S.
“The team definitely has evolved to Skylar and I getting a lot more sisters,” Schneider said. “We’re training together and cooking out every night and just having fun. It’s definitely a good family feeling and when their parents can come to town we usually find them a place in the neighbourhood and it just really makes the feel of the team a lot of fun. The girls are able to relax and hopefully not be as homesick.
“When they commit to being in the States so long, it’s inevitable that they’re going to miss their family and dogs and things. We just definitely try to keep it so they’re comfortable and happy while they’re here.”
Three of the team’s riders, Josie Talbot, Jessie Hodges, and Nina Wollaston, hail from Oceania — Hodges and Wollaston are Kiwis, while Talbot is an Aussie. The running joke on the team is that it’s always summer for them. They come to the U.S. and race the American summer season, before leaving in August or September to race the Oceania summer season.
The team’s community vibe carries over to its sponsors for 2018, Wisconsin-based Trek Bicycle. The bikes the team rides to victory were designed less than an hour from the Schneider residence at Trek’s headquarters in Waterloo.
Yin and Yang
As the eldest rider on the team, Schneider finds herself in a mentoring role on most occasions. She has help in the form of Yussely Soto, a rider just one year younger than Schneider, who also serves as a mentor and support system for the developing younger riders.
However, the two couldn’t be more different. Schneider is the more serious of the pair, making sure everyone knows their role and is ready to go. Soto is the laid-back one, often blaring Latin music and singing along as the team prepares to race. The two complement each other well.
One could argue that the team’s close-knit atmosphere is what translates to so many wins at the toughest criterium races America has to offer. It’s common to see multiple blue and orange jerseys on the podium.
“The joke on this team is that if I’m not winning any one of my teammates could,” Schneider said. “Sometimes the girls are a little disappointed when we don’t have multiple people on the podium, so to finally get that sweep this year [in Harlem] was pretty awesome. I’ve never raced there and it’s just pretty surreal to be able to race basically in the skyscrapers.”
As the top sprinter, the team is often working for Schneider and trying to keep the peloton together for a bunch finish. The team’s strong work ethic and incredible depth means multiple riders joining Schneider on the podium is not infrequent.
At the Harlem Cycling Classic in June, the squad exited the final turn holding the top four positions in the peloton and easily swept the podium.
“Very rarely does our team talk about winning a race,” Dave Schneider said. “We talk about being a team and what it means to be a team and how you accomplish that. If everybody really cares for each other and works on what their assignments are, then the winning is just a byproduct of a good, quality program.”
ISCorp is showing no signs of slowing down, though the team will lose a few of the international riders at the end of the season, as their work visas expire and they return home. They will be missed, but only until spring rolls around in the Northern Hemisphere and the gang is back together having BBQs and winning races.
”My best friends are on the team, so it really makes traveling the country and racing a lot of fun. When you really care about your teammates, you can go that extra mile,” Schneider said.
ISCorp Pro Cycling Team roster
Caroline Baur, Karlee Gendron, Jessie Hodges, Sam Schneider, Yussely Soto, Josie Talbot, Nina Wollaston.