We had the pleasure of inviting Rene Mandri for an interview and to have a closeup of cycling sport in these times. He is an experienced road bicycle racer, who raced many years in different teams and was growing the ladder of the stages. 

Now he got to be the representative of the Ampler Development Team in Estonia, founded in 2020, to support the next generation of cyclists. For him, it is all about cycling, till today.

The big mission is to strengthen cycling sport in the Baltic States and Finland. The list of races is long this year and the tour season has started again after a long break. We talk with him about cycling as a passion, the team itself and cycling sport during the pandemic. 

»Our goal is to help the Baltic & Finnish cycling talents reach the top of the professional world.«

Around the curve in a bike race

The wheels are on the road again.

Have you fulfilled a dream in your life by going into cycling racing? Where does the intense connection to the two-wheeler come from?

Probably yes! When I was a kid, I saw my fathers and my grandfathers – both sportsmen – medals at home and from there it started that I wanted to be involved in professional sports. My father was a supporter of a local cycling club. I learned to cycle there. As a kid, you set your goals and get connected to the sport over the years. The next you want to achieve is the professional level. Finally, you do the Tour of France and win stages there. 

From a certain point on I like cycling itself. It wasn’t anymore about winning the Tour de France stages or being a champion. At some point, I realised cycling has given me a lot in my life. I got to travel a lot, I got to meet new people, it gave me a purpose in life. I wanted to stay in cycling and give something back. 

It is a lifestyle. For me, everything is all about cycling nowadays.

You have few breaks between the races – do you have a ceremony for the start of the season?

Not really. Normally, everybody when you get a new deal for the next year seasons – that’s a big moment for a cyclist. He knows ok, I gonna go do sports 100% next year, I don’t need to look for a job somewhere else. I can continue progressing.

The season starts with a goal – to be good during the races. Some races are for preparation, some are for doing the results.

Headwinds shape character.

What do you think is the most important skill a manager of a cycling sports team needs to have? 

As a manager of a sports team, you have to be ready to curse people you really don’t know in the beginning. And you don’t sell anything. You just go and take. (is laughing)  

You build up your strategies, put together your projects, you need to have an understanding, how your team is working best. Everybody needs to know their role. You have to be a character. 

Is there a tactic for each player and for each route? Do you have a set of tactics or do you adapt them to each route in detail?

There are tactics for each player and each route, but it all depends on the opponents you have, you must know them too. The most important is to be first on the line and for that, you need to combine your strengths against others using the qualities of your riders on that particular route. 

There isn’t really such thing as a set of tactics. If you feel that you can go and win, then you still have to improvise. 

If you know that it will be almost impossible to go for the win during that day in question, then there is a set strategy – save your legs as much as possible for the days then you can go and potentially ride for a podium.

How much has Corona changed cycling? How were and are you affected as a team? 

For me and the team, it was very hard. They had no race at all. Especially for the younger cyclists – they need to have these racing moments. It was a completely new situation for the teams at our level. We came to the point, that we invented ourselves a racing series, outside and based on power meters. Normally it is done inside on home trainers. 

So we had boys, somewhere in Latvia, some in Estonia, some in Finland. But they still could compete with each other through the power data.

This year we start the cycling season a bit earlier. Now we get back into form and into normality. But the budget is suffering from the change of logistics with the Corona tests and the necessity to be prepared at 2 places at the same time. Sport is not in a comfort zone right now.

Ampler Development Team on the tour

Sometimes it’s decided in the last few metres.

You just came from your last tour in Poland in Malopolska, Poland UCI 2.2 and you will race the next races in the Baltic region as well. Do you have a recommendation where it is especially nice to join live? 

I would say, it is all a big pleasure to go back to South Poland. In Summertime it is really nice there. It is a totally underestimated region in Europe. It is so wild and beautiful. The Spring Classics in Belgium for cycling is something special. 

The Flander people are just so cycling crazy. When you go there you breathe cycling every second. You see so many cyclists around you, you go to see the classics. There are like 10000 people on the cobblestone. That is just crazy stuff that you can’t see elsewhere.

How would you inspire people to ride more bikes in their lives? 

Just take a bike, go out and you will see, you will enjoy it.