Bonus Issue ft. Q&A With the Director of The Run Up series

Behind the scenes of the behind the scenes footage 🎥

Last Friday’s issue included news of a brand new upcoming project called The Run Up — a film series which will go behind the scenes with three of the biggest teams in women’s cycling; SD Worx, Canyon//SRAM and Trek-Segafredo. Backed by SRAM — which sponsors all three teams — as well as Trek, the series will consist of films of the riders and staff in the days leading up to some of the most important races on the calendar. 

This is the very type of content that women’s cycling needs; a way to introduce the characters and personalities that transcend results on paper and don’t rely on race organisers and external media companies to deliver broadcasting in order for them to attract interest and gain exposure. 

The foundation of this newsletter is in supporting and giving exposure to women’s cycling and the best content around it, so this seemed like the perfect moment to kick off some of the additional long-form content I promised two issues ago.

So, what can we expect from The Run Up?

In a press conference on Monday, Ashleigh Moolman Pasio of SD Worx, Tiffany Cromwell of Canyon//SRAM and Lizzie Deignan of Trek-Segafredo talked about The Run Up and what it will entail.

“It's really nice that now we have three really strong teams working together, I think that sends out a pretty powerful message,” said Deignan. “I'm really pleased that everybody is working together, because ultimately, that's the only way you achieve change.”

“I think it's really nice to share the stories and I think it's a good way to build community and to build real engagement,” said Moolman Pasio. “I think that the Netflix series on F1 is actually a really good example of how important it is to sort of show what happens behind the scenes.”

“Cycling is very closed doors, people don't like to let people in let them know what goes on behind the scenes,” said Cromwell, “but they also realise there's so much normality as well, just joking around with the other riders on the team, or people dealing with stress in different ways, from the team leader, to the workers, to somebody who keeps people calm — it will surprise people. But I think it will genuinely interest people. And it will show that we are all normal people we’re not something that's untouchable.”

Q&A with the director

Oliver Grenaa is a Danish, Girona-based videographer and photographer and will be directing The Run Up series. I phoned him up this afternoon to find out more about the project — the behind the scenes of the behind the scenes, if you will.

How did you come to be involved in The Run Up?

I contacted Trek to see if they were interested in partnering with another project and that led to a discussion about The Run Up series. They were already starting to plan that, so they asked me if I wanted to be a part of it and direct it. The first episode was supposed to be about Roubaix but obviously that changed. So we decided to focus on the next one which would be Liege, there wasn't a plan for Liege in the beginning, but that's what it changed to. Obviously, Roubaix would have been an awesome first event but Liege is also awesome and gets shown on TV, and also it's still quite a new race.

How many people have you got working on the project?

There’s a few partners involved. People putting the money into it. But with the crew, we have split up across either hotels with the teams or Airbnb's. We got seven in the Airbnb, we've got three editors working on it, a shooter with me directing, and a runner and a producer here. And then we've got three shooters, one shooter with each of the three teams. And then the people behind the scenes that aren't on site. So quite a few people, and quite a few people to coordinate. But it's good fun. Definitely good fun.

How are you finding working around Covid and team bubbles?

So we're following all the rules, all the rules of the UCI, of the teams of the different countries involved. So everyone gets tested before they arrive into the location and get tested multiple times to make sure we are always within the 72 hour period if we have access to the teams. Then the shooters follow the rules of the team, so six days before, and three days before, they get rapid tests and PCR tests. And then just lots of PCR tests along the way during the week to make sure that we're all safe and still within the 72 hours when we have access to the teams. Then of course, masks and other sanitary regulations are also upheld and then distance. It requires quite a bit of coordination and there's certainly quite a big expense towards getting a lot of PCR tests.

How many people will each episode focus on and will it be the same ones each time?

So for this we'll focus on key riders, and riders that will do well, but then it’s not just based on Liege as a race, but also looking into the teams and giving the viewer a bit of a look into how the teams work, who the characters are. A lot of focus obviously goes into the riders but we also want to introduce the DS's and managers. And along the way, also show the people that work behind the scenes, that work hard day and night to make everything happen. So, soigneurs, mechanics, everyone that's involved really to give people an idea of what really goes on during a race and at the races that you don't see on TV.

What has been the response from the teams involved?

It seems like everyone's really stoked on it. Obviously, Covid makes it difficult with the regulations, but it doesn't seem like people are pushing back at all. I think other teams are even interested in it and are hearing that this is something quite big. It's definitely a positive thing. And also, it hasn't really been done with anything within cycling. I mean, it's a completely new concept. So the riders are definitely keen to work on it, it seems like. It's really nice, actually.

Yeah, it is cool that it started women's cycling. I feel like it's even something that men's cycling will probably try and do, too.

Yeah, I can definitely see that happening. But we also hope that this grows, and gets more teams involved, more partners involved and really just expand it to show what women's cycling is about.

So the idea is that it's filmed and edited and put out in the week leading up to the race is that right?

So for this we were here earlier but we will pretty much start the intensive shooting from tomorrow already at Flèche and carry on up until two days before Liege. The point of it is to have the film ready the day before Liege as a bit of a teaser to the race. And to give an introduction to the race, a few stories of the riders that are racing and get people interested in wanting to watch the race, having a bit more info about the race and the riders involved so that they feel like they're a bit more connected to it.

Are there any differences to working with women’s teams vs men’s?

I really enjoy working with women, it's a bit less intense. There's still moments where like if you sit with, say, Anna van der Breggen and it's like ‘okay, holy shit, this person is Olympic Champion and World Champion and everything.' It's still quite intense like that, but it just actually feels quite relaxed and the women feel a bit easier to work with and connect with, in a sense. They're just happy with it, they know how to work with it very well which makes my life easier but also it just makes the story a lot more interesting that you get these personalities coming across. I think it's really interesting for the viewer. It's not to say that I don't like working with the men, but sometimes it can be a bit more stressful there's more regulations even without Covid and all that stuff. It's a bit more like you're already being told 'oh, be careful, we've got to take care of not doing this and that and upsetting people'. We're all human in this situation, we can have a proper conversation. I understand that people are focused, but it just seems that the women are a bit more open to working with media and that kind of thing.

The first episode of The Run Up will go live on Saturday 24th April — the day before Liege-Bastogne-Liege. To make sure you don’t miss it, subscribe to The Run Up Series YouTube channel:


And, follow @therunupseries on social media.

P.s, allow me to also use this bonus issue to let you all know that it’s my birthday on Friday, meaning I cannot be held responsible if the regular newsletter is late! 😬

See you soon x