Cyclingnews talks with Tommy Prim
Swedish legend of the '80s
By Tomas Nilsson, cyclingnews.com
There's something familiar
over that face under the greying hair in Vårgårda at the Tour of Sweden
prologue. Yes, it his him, Tommy Prim one of the greatest Scandinavian
racing cyclists ever. Last time I saw him was at the Tour of Sweden
in 1985, and before that a dozen years earlier at several junior races
on the roads of western Sweden.
By Tomas Nilsson, cyclingnews.com correspondent
There's something familiar over that face under the greying hair in Vårgårda at the Tour of Sweden prologue. Yes, it his him, Tommy Prim one of the greatest Scandinavian racing cyclists ever. Last time I saw him was at the Tour of Sweden in 1985, and before that a dozen years earlier at several junior races on the roads of western Sweden.
Both the other riders and I saw very little of his face, but so much more of his other side - so long as we could keep him in sight.
Some weeks after the Vårgårda encounter, I caught up with him for a summary of the first half of his first season as a pro cycling manager of Team Crescent, a third division trade team with seven riders, all under 23.
CN: So how about the season so far. As well as expected?
TP: It has been far beyond expectations. Stefan Adamsson won the Swedish Champion's jersey and also took the silver medal in the European U23 championships. He also secured the Swedish Cup last weekend. Another revelation is 19 year old Petter Renäng who, in his first elite season was beaten only by World's silver medallist Michael Andersson in the Swedish ITT Championships. He too finished third in the Swedish Cup. 20 year old Tobias Lergård was seventh on the ITT stage of the Tour of Sweden with Renäng as eleventh. We have had a good start indeed.
CN: So why a third division team in Sweden right now?
TP: Crescent, the major Swedish cycle manufacturer, has been sponsoring cycle racing in Sweden for ages, at all times by supporting elite clubs. Now we found that we wanted to concentrate our sponsoring efforts to get as much value for money as possible. Third division is the right level for us. We have a young team, they are all U23's, and by running our own GS III we are in charge of the riders. In an amateur club, your riders might be called upon for an international race in the national team, and then you would be stuck with the rest of the riders unable to perform internationally on your own. We also get invitations to races ourselves and can better control the racing programme.
CN: So how are your relations with the Swedish Cycling Federation then?
TP: They are very good indeed. We have promised to deliver our U23 riders to the national team in the best possible form for the Championships and also to the Postgirot Tour of Sweden, and so far it has worked well. We have been able to have all the best U23 riders in the country in our team as we wanted to. And they have developed well. We also have the ambition to race a lot in Sweden. The sponsor is Swedish and so sponsor and federation can both be satisfied.
CN: As an espoirs team, do you have any ambitions on the U23 World Cup?
TP: We have raced some U23 races this year but without ambitions for the overall classification. Maybe we will have a look at that for the next season. Our aim is to get the guys out on races on the right level, that is .6 and .5 races. Then the Tour of Sweden is there on the program to give the riders a picture of racing at a higher level, but young riders develop best in races where they are competitive.
CN: Other riders go to continental amateur groups to develop. Isn't that better?
TP: It might work for some riders, like Michael Andersson, Glenn Magnusson and the others to move down the continent on their own. I don't think that suits young guys nineteen, twenty years of age, but this has been the alternative for Swedish riders for some years now, apart from Team Mälarenergi. And there are several riders down there this season like Gustav Larsson and Fredrik Modin in Spain, Claes Johansson and Erik Wendel in Italy but you hardly hear anything from them. It's hard for the federation to get a picture of their capacity for the championships. So I think the riders as well as the cycling sport in Sweden will gain on our project.
CN: And what about Tommy Prim himself, we haven't seen your name in cycling circles for some years.
TP: No, that's correct. When I came from Italy in the mid 80's I went into other businesses. I've been working with a postal order firm, I've been on a saw mill and my last job, before I came to Crescent, was in a salmon smokery. But two years ago I got an offer to manage the Elite division at Crescent. That is where we build the road racing cycles and the top of the line mountain bikes. Last year I was in charge of the MTB team we had, and now I'm managing our cyclists, roadies as well as mountain bikers, and the elite division as well. We are building a staff around the teams so we can circulate the actual race managing among us.
CN: Are you also satisfied with the media coverage? Cycling isn't really the biggest sport in Sweden. Will Team Crescent bring more attention to cycling?
TP: Let's hope so. But I am a bit disappointed that no press has observed our programme against doping. We have clauses in our contracts similar to those now presented by the French 100 to 2000 project. We have had absolutely no attention to that at all. And we really need to show people that you can achieve great results without doping.
Tommy Prim was twice runner up in the Giro d'Italia in the early 80's behind Giovanni Battaglin 1981 and Bernard Hinault 1982. He also won Paris-Brussels 1983, Tirreno-Adriatico 1984, the Tour of Sweden at two occasions, in 1982 and 1983 and several other races. In 1982 he was fourth on the Super Prestige World Ranking behind Hinault, Saronni and Contini and ahead of Kelly and Raas.
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