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7th Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under - 2.HC

Australia, January 18-23, 2005

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Interview for January 19, 2005

David McKenzie - in the heat of things

By Gabriella Ekström in Adelaide

David McKenzie (United Water)
Photo ©: CN
Click for larger image

Although some predicted rain for today's stage, the sun wasn't merciful on the four riders who escaped from the peloton early in the second stage of the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under.

They stayed together for the better part of the race, and Victorian David McKenzie was impressive with his first and second place in the intermediate sprints, and a second place at the KOM sprint after a hard fight with young Frenchman Mickael Delage. Just as it started to look as if they might have a go at the stage win, McKenzie sat up and let himself be reeled in by the peloton.

"In my mind I felt really good, and it was surely my initial plan to have a go at this stage. But after the two intermediate sprints and the KOM sprint the heat actually got to me," David told Cyclingnews after the stage. "I guess I should have handled it better since I was the only Australian in the break, but to be honest, I didn't feel good at all. I kind of felt I needed to go for the second intermediate sprint in case I would need the bonus seconds later in the week, but after that I learned that the peloton had reeled us in to around a minute and a half, and pretty much had us in control. The team director was happy for me to sit up there and then, so I did."

McKenzie crossed the line in the peloton, but hasn't given up his hope for a stage win. "Personally, if I can recover from today, I'd love a stage win if there's an opportunity and not all stages end up in big bunch sprints. If they do, I'll just help the other guys in the team. My best chance should come at the last stage, if the GC's already set and they'll let a break go. I'm reasonably good in a small group, and I have quite a good sprint if the group's not too big."

David McKenzie (United Water)
Photo ©: CN
Click for larger image

Before joining his new team Wismilak at Langkawi, McKenzie is representing United Water at the Tour Down Under, and he briefs us on the team's goal at Australia's biggest stage race.

"For the first two stages we were just intending to stay within bunch time, and now we're looking towards a stage win. We also have a few guys who could challenge the U23 jersey, and guys like Robert McLachlan and Dave McPartland are really riding well at the moment, so a GC placing could be a realistic goal. The best thing would be a stage win though, because then you're the winner for a day and you get all the attention. Even if we ride well and finish, let's say seventh overall, we will always be overshadowed by those who have won stages, so we'd prefer to get one ourselves. It's sad in a way that a rider who rides consistently good for many days in a row can get easily overshadowed, but that's the way it is."

Last year, David rode with Navigators, and just like this year, he started his year out in Southern Australia. "It's funny, but I did things quite differently last year. I rode with Navigators then and we rode the Tour Down Under then and I think I was 11th on the GC, [Ed: Yep] and the week before that I was third in the national championships road race, so I had great form then. Then I got back to Europe and went a bit flat since I started out so early. My team managed to win the Tour of Qinghai Lake in China in July, and I placed second in the GC of Herald Sun Tour late at the season, but my best time last year was really the first part of that season."

McKenzie and Lelage
Photo ©: CN
Click for larger image

This year, things will change, as David's choice of team surprised a few. "I have signed with an Indonesian team, Wismilak. They equal second division, although hardly anyone knows that. The team has been around for three years already, this will be their fourth year of the ten year plan they have got going. A good friend of mine, Scott Guyton, who rode for both Linda McCartney and iTeamNova, has just signed on to work as a team director for them, so that is really good news. I will join up with them in time for Tour de Langkawi, which is an important race for them as it's almost ridden on their home ground. I'll act as some sort of team leader as there's lot of young riders who don't have the biggest experience with, for example, training, so I'll help them develop that. Besides that, I want to try and get some results for myself of course.

"Looking at our schedule, we'll have two six week blocks in Europe, one in May and one in September, and that is fairly important to me as I still want to be competitive at a high level. If I don't get to race in some of the hardest races, I'm afraid I'd lose some of my motivation. Then we are also likely to do Tour of Japan and perhaps some racing in the States, Philly week maybe."

His decision might seem strange to some, as most pro's normally seek their way towards Europe and not away from it, but David has his reasons. "I made the decision to sign with Wismilak because it will allow me to be based in Australia, and it is important to me to be able to spend more time with my family. Last year with Navigators, I did a lot of travelling, and I didn't really have a base for a long period of time, and that's not easy when you have a wife and two children you want to see. Therefore we had to make a decision for this season, because after all, cycling's only a sport and my family's the most important thing to me. With this solution I think I have found a way where I can have both things, and that is hopefully a good balance."

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