In the first part of our conversation with Bissell Pro Cycling rider Ben Jacques-Maynes, we recapped his 2007 season and his use of the track to enhance his training for the upcoming season.

More about his team and changes in 2008

Simply stated Jacques-Maynes likes and respects his teammates. "It's just a nice group of guys who I actually really like hanging out with and I think that's also been brought together by Glen Mitchell". New Zealander Glen Mitchell is the directeur sportif of the team, and is a former teammate of Jacques-Maynes.

"I told myself if I had the opportunity to race under him. He's a great tactician, really attentive to detail of the race in general and I knew he could apply that to being a manager. Obviously I think he's really well acquitted himself in his job. I think we fit together well and I race well under his style."

The new year brought changes to the team with five new riders joining a core of returning riders, increasing the overall number of riders from 12 to 14. As soon as Jacques-Maynes signed on, Mitchell asked for input and feedback." Glen wanted a lot of input about who he was talking to. Like all negotiations, nothing was locked down, there was a lot of back and forth, 'what about this guy, that guy to fill that role and as it kind of gelled together. I personally trust Glen's ability to put together a solid team. There are budgetary requirements as well, you can't just spend the moon and buy whoever you want."

The team slots were filled, and the team is now complete, and Jacques-Maynes feels "the guys on my team are top notch, we put a little heavier top end now and I think it's going to be a better combination."

"We have a certain racing style and we're not going to sit around and wait for bunch kicks all year long because we don't have the money to go hire one huge sprinter and then the whole leadout train for him. You hire five guys who can upset everything on a train once it's assembled, you get the guys who throw the money wrench in the program, cause mayhem at the end of a race through solo perseverance."

Jacques-Maynes is looking forwards to work for some of the guys, such as new rider on the team Burke Swindlehurst. "Burke as our climber is a great example... I can go for the first kilometer of a climb, string it out and then just drop anchor. I wasn't able to do that all year and I'm really looking forwards to that."

Two new riders are Jeremy Vennell and Aaron Olson. "Vennell, a new kiwi and he's super fast, He's probably going to be a little bit better climber that me - which isn't that hard right now - and still be just as good a TT rider". And Olson joined the team after two successful years racing in the UCI ProTour, is "just strong everywhere."

"I probably won't have as many good results to point too this year because the team is going to be so much stronger."

About his goals in 2008 and the Tour of California

Jacques-Maynes' goals for 2008 can be simply described as "just being consistent once again, and wins, wins, wins, and obviously I'd like to win the NRC." And he doesn't care how they come, either for himself or setting up a teammate, "I want to see a lot of wins out of my team."

He wants to "put the Bissell name out there and I know think that we are one of the top teams in the country and we may not be perceived as that yet and we just need to prove it."

"I know we can do it. You get one or two other guys performing consistently, and me performing consistently and Tom Zirbel healthy and we're going to be in the finale of every single race we do. If we're doing that, that means we made our mark."

A strong and consistent builds confidence and "once you show at a race with confidence like that, you can't help but perform, and I have confidence in my guys and I want to help them do it too". A chuckling Jacques-Maynes added "I can't do it myself anymore."

The upcoming Tour of California is very important to Jacques-Maynes and his team. As a specialist "in short time trials for me, it's what I feel I'm particularly good at", Jacques-Maynes is aiming for the prologue and wants to year that yellow jersey.

The Tour of California "is going to be a difficult race". Looking at the stage 3, the 102.7 miles from Modesto to San Jose, climb to the 4360-foot summit of Mt. Hamilton followed by a fast descent before the road again tilts upwards again on the ascent of Sierra Road. "There are going to be a lot of guys struggling to make the time cut on the race into San Jose."

"That climb over the back of Mt Hamilton is 40 miles long and then we're hitting Sierra Road. There was a group that was off the back of Sierra Road half an hour down, that's without any climbing to get there. Now you do some huge climb like that, they better go piano up thirty of those forty miles, or it's going to be ... it could be an hour down easily. It's that big of a climb, it's that long of a climb, it's not shallow. For the last 6 miles climbing Hamilton, if it's raining down here, it will be snowing up there, and then you have another climb after you shiver your way seventeen miles down that mountain."

Weather could play a major factor in the race. "Just because we've had kick ass weather for the past two years, just because we're sitting around in 60 degree weather in January doesn't mean it will be like that. I don't know if they didn't show up here when it's just pouring rain and 60 miles per hour wind at my house a week ago and it was 120 miles an hour over the top of Hamilton. I don't even want to contemplate riding my bike in that stuff."

The final and seventh stage in the Tour of California is new this year, and is unknown to Jacques-Maynes. "The one thing I don't know is the climb in Angeles forest on the last day, there are going to be a lot of DNF that day because they don't care about the time cut. You'll have three quarters of the race dropping out, Another huge climbing day in February and you climb another 5 thousand feet, it's going to be, in the best scenario it's going to be brutal. In the worst scenario, it's going to be a death march. And in February people won't entertain that so it could be a recipe for disaster for the race."

About the state of American cycling and doping

To Jacques-Maynes, American cycling is "never like even ebb and flow, there's transition, it's an revolving wheel, it seems ... every team wants to build up, and become the best team in the world, that epitome ride he Tour de France, blah blah blah People want to talk big and want to do it, fine, let them. I don't think it's changing the state of American cycling at all."

Always a proponent of clean, aggressive and positive racing in America, Jacques-Maynes doesn't know "if we'll have it because there will always be some kind of hijinks thrown into the mix and now the problem now is there will be perception of hijinks and whether it happens or not, you know there could be a negative consequence."

Our conversation then shifted to doping in cycling, and the perception that finding a clean rider is hard. Jacques-Maynes emphatically stated "Here's one right here. I do nothing but ride my bike hard and I've been doing my whole time. I've got two kids to support and feed, and I want to be here and around long after I've ever been a cyclist. When that's a distant memory I want my health, I want to say that I did that, I was proud of what I did and whatever level of success I've achieved I want to be proud of what I've done. I want to try and inspire people to do like me."

Jacques-Maynes was very upset when Nathan O'Neill tested positive in October 2007. "How many time did I finish second to him? how many times did I... you know with just those second place finishes how many NRC points would I have gotten? you know I've had race wins taken away from me by dopers before."

"It seems like war, you keep on looking forwards to a time when it won't be a war going on. You want to be optimistic, something will always come out, something will always happen... all I can do is remain optimistic and do the best that I can do and show people that you can succeed, you don't have to win every race."

His plan is to "not worry about what everyone is doing and if you do get those wins, it makes so much better because in the back of your head you know that someone out there is doing some shit and you still beat them so 'take that'."