Q: Is it possible to be a pro racer in Europe but still be based in the US?
There are a few riders who have tried that before, to spend more time in the US, but they always have some sort of European base. Whether it’s in Nice, Italy — maybe Tuscany somewhere
. And some people go back to the US more so than myself. For me, as someone who comes from the west coast
, it’s a lot further to get home compared to someone who lives on the east coast. It’s a full day’s travel on weekends.
Q: Can you tell me a little bit about what training camp is like?
We usually have one team camp at the end of November, or early December, before Christmas time and then one kind of at the start of the season in early January before the racing starts
. The December camp tends to be a little more relaxed, more general riding, endurance rides
, team building exercises. Getting together and getting the new guys incorporated into the team and just getting everyone together and seeing where everyone is at. The January camp is a bit more focused. We split up into groups — the classics
riders, the stage race riders
, the climbers and the time trial specialists
— for more specific training. That’s also the time of year that you really start to dial in everything. You have new guys coming to the team, you’re getting used to the new bikes and positions and a new kit
and everything like that. So all that stuff is sorted out in December and January so that once the racing starts, no one runs into any issues.
Q: You also went to South Africa to train with Froome, who has sung your praises since then. That must be a good feeling.
It’s cool to spend time with Froome one on one, just sharing conversations out on the road. We have a similar upbringing. We have a similar mindset towards life and what we did as kids and what we want to do after our career is over. Just being outside and fishing
, hiking and camping — you know, all these things that are very instrumental to my life that are maybe not so present right now. The outdoors and whatnot, I don’t really share those interests with a lot of the other teammates. In Europe it’s a lot more city life and shopping, watches
and clothing. I’m not really into that aspect of life. So just on a human level, being able to share with him what we would be doing if we weren’t cycling, or what we’re going to do post-cycling, was awesome. And we just really connected on that personal level which made the training that much more enjoyable. Just to go out there and hammer and have those positive vibes — to understand that there’s more to the world after cycling.
Q: It seems like Sky is a pretty tight crew. Who has the best nickname on the team?
We have a massage therapist and we call him Siri, like the same as the iPhone
Siri. He speaks perfect English, but almost like a robot — very thorough with everything and kind of broken up, the way he speaks. His actual name is Nick and he’s a great guy.
Q: What do you do in your time off?
We do get a bit of an offseason that ranges from October to November. It’s relatively short, just because with the level of training
that we do, it’s easier to stay on a higher pace rather than starting from scratch. Last year I went to Thailand with my dad and just hung out there and went to the beach, drank some beers
in the afternoon and just relaxed. Other off seasons I’ve gone back to Oregon, just to do some hunting and fishing with my brother, some camping. The things that I love to do and did growing up that I don’t so much get a chance to do anymore. This year I’ll have a break in June, after the Giro
, and I’ll go back to the east coast with my girlfriend. She’s from Vermont
, so we’ll go up there and see her family and just try to go and get away for a week; a mental break just to sort of shut your team phone off, not have to upload any power files, and just be a 25 year old boy enjoying life. I’ll do some American things like have a bonfire, roast marshmallows and whatnot.
Q: Who did you look up to when you were coming up through the ranks?
I think there’s no question for any young rider my age that Lance Armstrong was our idol. That was who we looked up to. That was what got me excited every summer watching the Tour. Those were kind of my prime years growing up in cycling, watching Lance race, following his career when Discovery Channel did the Lance Armstrong Chronicles
. It just made me so excited to get up and race. I think a lot of people feel like it’s a touchy subject because of what’s come out with his doping history
. That’s been a bad part of the sport, but at the same time without someone like Lance, I don’t think a lot of us Americans would be racing in Europe right now. He brought a lot of attention and he brought a lot of funding to American cycling and to developing cyclists in the United States. The team I was on before Sky was Trek-Livestrong, and it was a team that was directly funded and organized through Lance’s connections. To a large degree, I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for Lance.
Q: What are your thoughts on professional cycling in America? Is it growing? Do you think the sport will ever be the size it is in Europe?
I definitely think that cycling as a whole has grown tremendously. The culture of cycling beyond racing has grown dramatically. It’s also kind of becoming the new golf
. Businessmen and lawyers are not only going on golfing trips to Cabo, but they’re going on cycling trips to the Alps and whatnot. So I think it’s trickling over to becoming a popular sport. Whether the racing and the draw ever reaches the same level as Europe, I don’t know if the history is there. But the more people are involved, the more people start to enjoy it and the more people start to appreciate the sport and what we do.