He calls himself a Contract Director. With the UCI he’s listed as an Assistant Director. While they are, Assistant/Contract Directors, a thing, this is the first time Ken Mills has done it, just shown up and raced and gone home, and he’s doing it for Team Exergy. He thinks Tad and the rest of the team are happy—“I have my calendar of races and I show up and I do my best and try to get wins and I mostly do so yeah, I hope they’re happy.”
When Ken worked for Kelly Benefits the normal full-time-style he handled, as in was responsible for, all the logistics: the tickets, the travel, who’s going where, and maybe most importantly, he played a major role in who was selected for the team in the first place, in which case the riders worked for him, owed him, were responsible to him, they rode for the team the whole team yes, but they were on the team in many cases because he put them there.
At training camp in February, Tad addressed the team with Ken by his side and said, “If I’m not there, then Ken is the director, what he says goes.”
Speed Week, a series of crits, was only the second time Ken worked with Carlos and Carlos was (and is) the leader of the Crit Squad.
“At first the guys definitely tested me a little bit, they definitely pushed to see if I would push back. But once you start working with them and they see that you know what you are doing—I’ve been doing this for over ten years and until now it was always full-time—it gives them some confidence, and once you establish a rapport with the guys, once they see you know what you are doing, they trust you and listen to you, and if all goes well, they embrace the way you like to race.
Not that Tad and I have totally different philosophies but we do definitely have a different approach in terms of strategy and tactics. I believe you always need to ride at the front because if you ride in the back you miss stuff. My approach is simple. Ride at the front, don’t miss stuff, race, win.
So at Speed Week I just told them this is how we’re riding, this is how we’re going to race. And I made it clear that this (racing) is not a democracy. Obviously I always take into consideration who I’m with, like when I’m working with Freddie, he has a lot of experience and it makes sense to really listen to him.
We consistently rode well that week. There wasn’t a lot of attitude, essentially the guys are easy to direct. I noticed that at Training Camp, like how all the guys offered to help pack-up their bikes and kit and gear and stupid shit like that, it’s the small things, they make a difference and they’re sometimes very telling. They’re all bunch of good guys and that’s why I like directing them. And they listened to me, they rode at the front, they didn’t miss things, they raced, and they won just about everything you can win.”