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89th Tour de France - Grand Tour
France, July 6-28, 2002
Interview with Bradley McGee
Watch out here I come
By Anthony Tan
Bradley McGee can ride a four kilometre individual pursuit faster than some elite squads can ride as a quartet, averaging close to 60 clicks an hour for four minutes, all on his own. Scary, isn't it?
No surprise then the good-looking New South Welshman has now matured to become a feared prologue and TT specialist, recently winning the prologue of the Dauphiné Libéré from his compatriot Baden Cooke - over a distance you might say was rather familiar to him: 3.6 kilometres. However Brad doesn't just want to be master of the chrono; he wants that and more. Cyclingnews caught up with Brad a few days before the Tour start in Luxembourg.
Cyclingnews: How's your form leading up to the TDF? You must be happy with your recent performance in the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré - first winning the prologue and then the overall points classification?
Bradley McGee: Physically and mentally I am on top of my game in all accounts, and that has lead to good performances. It is all down to my ability to put it all together under pressure, which I love.
CN: You're obviously a big favourite for the prologue in Luxembourg. Do you have any other goals mapped up for the Tour - and are there any particular stages that you think you could do well in?
BM: I am still set to attack the individual stages - the two time trials and stage 13 looks good on paper! The GC is not such a focus, as winning stages does not normally allow for serious GC contention (they just don't let you go in long breaks). I still want to do 'something' in the mountains, mainly for my confidence and also to lay down some foundations for years to come.
CN: You mentioned last year after the Tour finished that you didn't really train that much in the high mountains before riding the Tour. Have you changed your approach /preparation this year, or does too much mountain training affect your ITT and prologue performances?
BM: I have done two weeks long mountain camps with FDJ, and now that I live in Nice, it allows me to train in the mountains every day. I have been working on my climbing using SRM power cranks to gather data and info in an effort to improve. I now feel more comfortable in the mountains but still lack that certain confidence (the trackie is still in me I guess). All the same, my time trialling feels strong and lacking very little after our recent training camps in the mountains.
CN: You've got some talented riders who could quite easily finish in the top 10 or 15, such as Sandy Casar, Jean-Cyril Robin and Nicolas Vogody. Will they all be FDJ's protected men, or has your DS Marc Madiot singled out one or two riders who will be going for the GC?
BM: No such firm words from Marc as yet as this is not our style as a team. Sure there will be riders more protected then others, but everyone pulls their weight in our team. These riders will just be given less work early and then set up for the stages when the road goes up. I guess I'm a jack-of-all-trades so I'll be hitting the prologue hard, then leading the sprints, chasing my own stages in long breaks plus leading climbers into the mountains. I hope I am not asked to fetch too many bidons on top of all this!
CN: Do you think it's possible to have more than one GC rider in your team? Obviously Postal has only one (Armstrong), whereas CSC-Tiscali has three (Jalabert, Hamilton and Sastre) - what are your thoughts on this?
BM: Yes, we will be looking at Vogody, Robin and Casar at first and the race will work itself out after the first difficult stages.
CN: We all know Lance Armstrong is flying after his performance in the Dauphiné - do you see anyone coming close to him, or has the majority of the peloton conceded that it will be a race for second on GC, assuming Lance doesn't crash or bonk on a stage?
BM: Lance is the man of the moment and mentally all other contenders would be searching long and hard to beat the guy. Lance can only beat Lance but the guy looks solid for my money.
CN: Being a "local" in France, you must have been exposed to many of the culinary delights that France offers. Do you follow a strict dietary regime on the Tour, and does it become less strict as the Tour goes on? What does your typical daily food intake consist of?
BM: I amaze myself each day the amount of food I consume during the Tour! Breakfast is cereal/rice, bread, ham and eggs plus yoghurt and coffee. I down a snack or carbo drink before the start, and snack every 15-20 mins when racing (except when the pace goes over 50km/h!). Also I have plenty of energy drinks when racing and some with minerals if the heat is up. After the finish its recovery: carbo drinks a sandwich and then a protein shake; hit the hotel and a bowl of cereal gets you through massage and then its dinner...
But wait, there's more - small salad or quiche then pasta bowls (up to three), followed by meat and vegies, cheese or yoghurt, then desert (and as much as you can fit in). All this everyday for three weeks and I will still lose 2kg of body weight!
CN: Baden Cooke must have startled a few people in the Dauphiné with his prologue performance, including himself. Were you also surprised? What sort of a rider do you see Baden developing into over the next few years? And has he any experience as an IP (Individual Pursuit) rider on the track?
BM: We rode the circuit several times together before the start, daring each other in to the tight turns. I was first up and gave him tips on which corners really needed the brakes and those that where OK. Knowing Baden his brake pads would have been left untouched! He has the ability and hunger to be a huge force in sprints, short cronos and even one day races. I think he will eventually be a classics rider. He was once 3rd in the Aussie IP titles but he really needs some tight turns and accelerating courses to get the real "Cookie" going.
CN: What about the other Aussies in FDJ, such as Matt Wilson and the NSWIS-FDJ boys - do you have time to keep a close eye on how they're doing, or do you leave this pretty much in the hands of your brother Rod?
BM: I leave it to Rod but we talk every other day. Already he is planning on next year, with the whole effectiveness of the squad taken into account. The guys are performing so well; it is a real pleasure to see the team evolving, performing and taking shape. I feel it is the start of something big.
Already Ash Humbert has been invited to be a stagiere with FDJ coming this September. Matt Wilson has really impressed at FDJ and was on the short list for the Tour. He has built a huge reputation as a super domestique and Classics hope after finishing 20th in Flanders. You can see the real Aussie spirit in Matt and the frogs love it!
CN: Will you guys be testing any new equipment during the Tour - frames, wheels - any super light bits and pieces? How do you find your Lapierre bike compared to that of previous years when you had the Gitane?
BM: I just received my hot new Lapierre Scandium frame and it feels awesome. My TT bikes are also made of this aluminium. This tubing sets them above last years Gitanes with a light but snappy feel, perfect for racing. I also hear we will be receiving the latest Dura-Ace wheels for the Tour.
CN: Physiologically speaking, you've got similar attributes to riders like Armstrong and Indurain, with a very big VO2. In the not to distant future, do you see yourself as a possible contender for the a race like the Tour de France, or will your focus be on the Classics such as L-B-L and Flèche Wallonne, and shorter stage races such as the Midi-Libre and the Dauphiné Libéré?
BM: The first step is the shorter stage races. To be in winning contention for those races you've just mentioned is my goal for 2003/04, and then we will see if I have what it takes to tackle the bigger tours. Right now I just have to work out how to get my arse up these cols with the leaders!