When members of Quick Step Floors Pro Cycling Team come to Sacramento to prepare for the upcoming Amgen Tour of California, they look to one local cyclist to make everything run smoothly.
Though he lives and works in Sacramento, David Kause has a longstanding relationship with the top-ranked men’s team in the world and plays a significant role before, during and and after races.
On Wednesday morning, for instance, he was out on the American River bike trail training with Quick Step pro Jack Bauer of New Zealand, along with team sports director Brian Holm, and Bauer’s coach, Sacramento-based Jesse Moore. In the afternoon, Kause was at the Sacramento International Airport to pick up another rider. Hours later, he was at the Sutter Club for a special cocktails and dinner fund-raiser, “Fete De La Course,” he has helped organize for the past eight.
“When we come here, he takes care of everything,” said Holm, a former pro cyclist from Denmark who now directs the Quick Step team in major races. “He knows everybody and he’s a cyclist himself. He knows the roads and has all of the connections. He comes to Belgium to watch the classics (races). He’s very useful. He’s our U.S. handyman. Plus, he has a great sense of humor.”
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Kause, 45, the programs director for OnSite Medical Services and a former emergency medical technician, is well known in the cycling community. Tall and slim, he is often seen riding in his Quick Step uniform, known as a team kit, and riding the team-issued race bike. He is part of an offshoot amateur racing team he helped create.
It all started in 2011, when a connection he had with one of the team’s sponsors asked him to show the riders some training routes prior to the start of the Amgen Tour of California. He has become good friends with Quick Step folks, including Holm Wilfried Peeters, who is also a sport director (more commonly known as director sportif).
“It’s a lot of fun. I’ve established a really good relationship with the professional team and now they use me when they come to the United States for whatever they need me for,” Kause said.
Kause says , most of the riders began arriving Wednesday and will spend the next couple of days training on local roads before the start of the seven-day Tour of California in Sacramento. More often than not they ride along the American River bike trail. To recreational cyclists, the pros create quite a spectacle, riding in formation and humming along with seeming ease as scores of local riders struggle to keep up.
Kause says there is an expected etiquette for interacting with the pros as they train — it’s OK to watch and follow, but don’t get too close. Two years ago, a local woman took a blind corner on the bike trail too wide and caused several members of the Tinkoff team to crash. Superstar Peter Sagan stayed upright, but his chain jammed into his front derailleur and needed servicing. Had he been injured, it would have made international news. Days later, Sagan went on to win the Tour of California and has won the last two world championships.
“Typically, they’ll be out there by 10:30 or 11 a.m. (Thursday), Friday and Saturday. They may go out for a couple of hours,” said Kause. “A couple of tips if you see these guys — don’t try to follow real close to them, and if they stop it’s OK if you want to stop and say hi. But remember, this is their job. If you were to cause an incident or cause them to crash, it would really hurt their chances in the race.”
This year, Quick Step is the top-ranked team in the World Tour and will be counting on having a major showing in the Tour of California. Among the Quick Step riders to watch are all-arounder Zdenek Stybar and sprint powerhouse Marcel Kittel, who will be the heavy favorite to win the first stage in Sacramento.
Kause’s role is not overlooked. Since he knows the roads and weather so well, he’s often tapped for advice on how the strong Delta winds will impact the race. Powerful crosswinds, for instance, can wreak havoc on the cyclists and dramatically split up the peloton, or group of racers.
“The riders have faith in him. When he says something, they listen,” said Holm.