I caught up with some of the riders and Directeur Sportif at the start of the 2008 Tour of Missouri Stage 1 in St Joseph to get their thoughts on the race. Last year, a 20-rider break went up the road in the second stage, and that was it as far as the GC race with George Hincapie taking the overall win. I was curious to get opinions of the possibility of such a break making it again this year.
George Hincapie (Columbia)
About the competition. We don’t race in America that much and even the small teams have everything to prove and nothing to lose, it always more difficult in that sense, we don’t want to underestimate anybody.
About a break getting 15 minutes again and will Columbia chase a break. I doubt it, you never know. Probably.
Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Chipotle)
About the Tour of Missouri. The team plan is come to the finish unscathed today, all at the same time. I think it’s all going to come down to Wednesday. Columbia has a beautiful team here, they’ll be the major competitor for us.
Roman Kreuzinger (Liquigas)
About the team’s plan. We’d like to do well for the team and for Cannondale. Nibali and myself for the classification but really some stage wins hopefully for Chicchi and we’ll see what happens at the time trial.
About the timetrial. I heard it was tough, I hope to arrive well even though I’m not in the top condition for my form.
Dominique Rollin (Toyota-United)
About the Tour of Missouri. Personally, I’m knocking on wood that it rains all week (laughs). No, I hope that it’s sunny. Hurricane winds, everything. (laughs).
This year, the team is a different. Of course, we are aiming for stage wins with Ivan Dominguez, it’s going to be a good competition between him and Mark Cavendish, we are hoping to hit big. I’m staying opportunistic like last year, aiming for a break. I worked on my timetrial, my TT is better than last year but I don’t think equal to Zabriskie, Vande Velde, especially in a hilly timetrial. It’s one of the most difficult timetrial that I’ve seen so far in my career without one flat centimeter. If there are no break that take 20 minutes last year, the TT will decide the winner.
Jonas Carney, DS Kelly Benefit/Medifast
About the plan for the team this week. We have eight guys that are riding good and everybody’s got good form and good morale right now. I think that the field sprint are going to be tough, there’s a lot of good competition here but we have three sprinters so we’ll see if we can do something in a field sprint and then I think that David Veilleux has a good chance for the Best Young Rider jersey, that’s a goal for the week and we’re just going to try to race pretty aggressively and try to make something happen. We’re definitely not one of the favorites but I think that in September having eight guys that are motivated to race hard, a lot of teams don’t have that. We’re going to go out there and swing at the fences trying to make something happen this week.
About a break getting 15 minutes again. It could always happen but the fact is that everybody is thinking about it now so usually the mentality of bike races is that whatever happens in the past sort of sets the mentality for the bike race, so I would think that everybody is thinking ‘can’t miss the break that goes ten minutes’ and then everybody is trying to be in it and it never happens. At least, that seems to be the pattern, things that happen in the past don’t seem to repeat because it just changes the mentality of the peloton. We’ll see, it’s interesting racing because it’s September, half of the riders don’t seem to be motivated or they don’t have good form and so there is always that danger this time of year. We like that, we like the idea that it’s a little bit more open, a little more chance for things to happen, breaks to stick, opportunities present themselves in September.
Tony Cruz (BMC)
About his form and the plan for the team. I feel really good, we have a couple of key guys, I think GC guys like Jeff Louder, of course and Brent Bookwalter is going really well. I think the other portion of the team is going to be really aggressive and opportunistic throughout the stages until the GC settles itself out. I’ll probably help our young spinters Danilo Wyss and Martin Kohler out at the beginning, try and put them in position for a victory and then maybe towards the end, they’ll return the favor for me. Unless one of them is just on fire, I’d rather be winning with the team.
About the break getting 15 minutes again. I think there’s going to be a lot of attempts with teams like Columbia and their sprinter Cavendish, it’s in their interest to control it and see if he can at least take one or two of the stages but guys are definitely going to try.
Rory Sutherland (Health Net-Maxxis)
About the plan for the team. We’re going to try everything, we have a team that’s able to do that, we don’t have the fastest guy or the best timetrialist, nothing like that but I think that we have a lot of good cards to play, some young guys, everyone seems to be motivated. It’s the end of the year but I think we staggered it better this year with the last few months of racing that we are not super tired. Last year, I was pretty down by this time. It [last year] was a very, very long year . I’ve had a good break this year, it’s been less responsibilities the last two months. I’m ready to hopefully race like I was racing like I was racing earlier this year.
About a break getting 15 minutes again. I don’t know, there are so motivated people, there doesn’t seem to be many jobs or many people with jobs in the US. A lot of people are going to be trying to get that last result.
Brad Huff (Jelly Belly)
About the team’s plan. Survive one thing. With Missouri weather you never know what’s going to happen day to day. Anything can happen, our team is an opportunistic team, we have a lot of potential, we’ll see what happens.
About a break getting 15 minutes again. It’s not going to happen this year, it’s going to be aggressive the whole time, a lot of strong teams, strong riders. With the state of cycling in America, you have a lot of guys working for spots for next year.
About being set with a contract for next year. Not yet, but I’m working on it, at least I have that.
Ben Jacques-Maynes (Bissell)
About a break getting 15 minutes again. You could really see it, there’s not a lick of flat ground all week, it’s going to take a very strong team to control the race and to be able to place a normal size breakaway up the road. You can get a group of 5, then another group of 5 to bridge, then another group of 8 bridges and there you go. Every roller there is a possibility of that happening and there are tons of rollers every day. You could see a really strong Columbia bringing something back but they are going to make sure that they are represented in any big move. Today or tomorrow could that kind of situation. I’m betting on five wins for Cavendish, some people have said four, some people have said six.