So what’s it like to work for a pro cycling team? As part of my series on women who work in the world of cycling, this week’s post is about Communications expert, Phoebe Haymes, who recently landed her dream job working with the pro cycling team BMC. I actually met Phoebe last year at the Tour de France. She was at the time working for a PR agency in France, and was working on a brief social media event focused on Aussie corner in Villers Brettoneux. We’ve kept in touch and I recently sent her a few questions……
Q: What attracted you to the world of the men’s professional peloton?
I grew up in Adelaide and was eight years old when the Santos Tour Down Under began in 1999 so it’s fair to say I grew up with this event. My dad and sister did triathlons so their interest also extended to cycling which meant every January we would follow the race. My interest in cycling grew from here and I would stay up late to watch the Tour de France every year. I began to follow other races as I got older and always wanted to work for a cycling team. I studied journalism and international relations at university in Adelaide and I decided to volunteer for the Santos Tour Down Under in 2013. I was fortunate enough to go on and intern with them in my final year of studying, and then at the end of the year was offered a position with the South Australian Tourism Commission which meant I could continue to work on the race. In the two years of working at the Santos Tour Down Under I was fortunate enough to make some key contacts with the WorldTour teams which is how I landed my current job with BMC Racing Team (with a lot of networking in between).
Q: BMC has Australian riders Richie Porte and Rohan Dennis. Was that a factor for you in choosing to work for BMC?
It’s great to have the Australian connection with Richie and Rohan, and we also have our Sporting Manager Allan Peiper who is also Australian so we are slowly growing the network. Of course with Cadel Evans’ success with BMC Racing Team there’s always been a strong Australian connection. I wouldn’t say that their presence was a factor in me wanting to work for BMC Racing Team. I always said I would be happy to start with a Continental or Pro-Continental team, so to start off at BMC Racing Team is a dream come true. The fact that I have some fellow Aussies in the team is icing on the cake.
Q: The men’s professional bike riding scene is obviously male-dominated/focused. Does this make you feel a bit isolated?
It’s definitely a man’s world so I don’t think it’s an industry for all women. You certainly have to be comfortable to be the only female in certain situations. At BMC Racing Team we have a number of females across different roles so although I may be the only female at some races, at others there are a couple of us. I’ve never felt isolated and I’m lucky to have a great group of riders and staff that I get along well with (which is essentially when you’re on the road together for up to a month). I think that the number of women with WorldTour teams is growing and in the Press Officer circle there’s a few of us which is nice.
Q: What’s a typical week look like for you?
It completely depends what races are on as to what my week looks like. I’m the primary person handling all of the team’s social media channels and as a native English speak I write the majority of press releases and race reports. I have a colleague Amy who we brought on this year to handle the communications for BMC Development Team and she helps me out when we have a lot of races on, or if I’m on site and lose internet connection, so she’s been a great help.
I’ve had a very busy on-race program this year so by the end of the season will have had close to 200 days on the road with BMC Racing Team. I love traveling (you couldn’t do this job if you didn’t) and have learned to live out of a suitcase with only a day or two at home in between races. I’m heading tomorrow to the Vuelta a Espana which will be my third Grand Tour of the year, and although it’s no holiday we’re lucky enough to go to some amazing places and see some incredible scenery, so I still have to pinch myself.
Q: Where are you based? Have you had a chance to meet any locals?
Q: Have the BMC guys got you riding a road bike?