How does a guy from St. Catharines end up working with Chris Froome?
We started down the path to working in the WorldTour when the technical manager of HTC-Highroad came to visit us
by Kevin Mackinnon
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Inspired by watching local legend Steve Bauer win a silver medal at the 1984 Olympic Games, Lloyd Thomas was drawn to cycling, training with Colin Hearth and Peter Junek at the St. Catharines Cycling Club. Other members of the club during those years included a veritable who’s who of the Canadian cycling world: Bauer, Gord Singleton and Karen Strong were all fellow members at the time. Thomas won the junior national championship in 1989 on the track in the team pursuit and went on to win numerous provincial and national track championship medals, too.
In 1994 Thomas moved to Whistler where he got involved in the world of skiing, becoming a boot fitter. “I worked with one of the world’s top boot fitters to really learn to analyze stance, balance and how alignment problems can have effects on skiers,” he says.
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Following the fitting successes in Whistler, Thomas and his fellow fitters were frequently consulting with a variety of companies in the snow industry. The move to Whistler also saw Thomas take on a new cycling challenge – mountain bike racing. He raced as an elite and, during the Tour Transalp in 2007, met Britta, whom he later married. He moved to Germany with her in 2007. In 2008, the two started CycleFit.de, one of the first Retül fitting setups in Europe. Thomas is friends with cycling legend Sean Kelly, having worked with the same cycling tour operator as the Irish cycling legend. Through that connection, Thomas eventually introduced the Retül system to British Cycling.
“We started down the path to working in the WorldTour when the technical manager of HTC-Highroad came to visit us at CycleFit.de in spring 2009,” Thomas remembers. “I showed him what we could offer to the team from high-performance custom insoles to fitting and working with improving the performances of the riders. That was the start of an official partnership with the team until it folded at the end of 2011.”
HTC-Highroad’s riders were suitably impressed with the Thomas’s attention to detail. As they moved to other teams, the riders helped to create the relationships CycleFit.de enjoys with other WorldTour teams today. Thanks to his extensive fitting background, Thomas has also worked as a consultant with Shimano on their high-end shoe development and consults with all the teams the company sponsors.
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With two children now added to the mix – Sean (named after Kelly), 5, and Mila, 2 – Britta isn’t doing as much testing anymore. Still, things haven’t slowed down much at the CycleFit.de studio 60 km south of Frankfurt. As busy as the company is, CycleFit.de doesn’t only cater to cycling’s premier riders, but works with athletes and amateur cyclists of all levels.