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Photo ©: Sirotti

BMC Software New York City Cycling Championship - NE

USA, August 1, 2004

Pre-race comments from the stars

By Mark Zalewski in New York

Marty Nothstein - Navigators Insurance

Since winning the gold in 2000 you have really shifted your focus to the road. What do you think of your chances in Athens?

"It's a little late right now...it'll be next to impossible to get the form I had in 2000 in the next three weeks. I just got back from Vancouver and Boise, Idaho where I was racing on the road for two weeks. This is the career I chose, racing on the road, and that's what I am going to do up until the games. And the Keirin has changed, it's different from what it used to be - run at a higher speed. I'm going to use my strengths which are an abundance of endurance right now, I'm still fast and still strong - I'm the same guy as I was in 2000, that's obvious, but put myself in a good position and hopefully healthy going in, have good legs and ride the race. Keirin is a bit of a lottery too!"

What are your plans for Sunday, especially with the Games just a few weeks away?

"I'm going to try to win, without a doubt. And if I can't do it, try to get one of the Navigator boys across the line. There's always that danger factor in the back of your mind, but right now I'm gung-ho - just want to get to the line and do it. I'm going to rider harder than ever, and if [a crash] happens, it happens."

What is this race like for you?

"It's really a dog fight out there in the streets. I like it - I like to say it's a tough-man's course. Last year 150 guys started and in the end there were just fifty guys left, and the reason why is that guys just handle the pace. I mean doing 100km in just two hours, that is not slow! And there's eight turns, so you are accelerating eight times - and there' s always a lot of wind. But for me, it's always been good."

Fred Rodriguez - Acqua e Sapone

What tactics do you bring to a race like this?

"It's a criterium, so I am going to play my statistics game here and just go with that. I like to look at races, and say, 'What is the usual outcome of the event? What is the usual outcome of a criterium? A sprint!' And especially for the fact that I don't have a team that's big enough - I have Bertolini who is an awesome sprinter and lead-out guy himself - but we haven't had enough time to work together.

"The first race we had together was Philadelphia, and he had to sacrifice himself and give me his wheel, so I never had him for the lead-out - that was lacking in Philadelphia, so now I have that, I have the finale that I didn't have in Philadelphia. The only thing now is that I don't have a middle, so we are going to have to play a risk game. At the same time, taking that risk is worth it, because most outcomes of criteriums are field sprints. That's going to be the game plan."

Colby Pearce - TIAA/Cref

How important is a race like this for your team?

"We are the only amateur team competing in the pro men's race - it's a unique opportunity for the kids to come out and test their legs against some of the best riders in the U.S. and even the world. I am the token "old guy" on the team, I serve as a rider and as a coach throughout the season."

You are competing in the Olympics in a few weeks, how is racing here affecting your preparation?

"I'll be competing in the 40km points race and Sunday is a 100km criterium, so it's a little longer, but that's OK because the events are quite similar - Sunday's course is really flat. The preparation is very ideal for me. And any racing I can get in the heat will be good preparation for me."

Francisco Ventoso - Suanier-Duval Prodir

When did you know you would be racing here in the U.S.?

"After winning Philadelphia, we saw the possibility of coming here for this race."

What is it like to race over here compared to racing in Europe?

"Racing outside of Spain is always a pleasure for me. It's something different, especially coming to New York with the mixture of so many different cultures in the same city is exciting for me. I love racing in America - the prize money is by far the biggest difference. I hope to come over for the San Francisco race."

This type of racing is much different here than in Europe. How will that affect you in Sunday's race?

"We don't do many criteriums in Europe. But I did get a first taste in Trenton - it's a flat race and I thought that was so fast! I'm a little concerned about the speed of tomorrow and how I am going to cope with it. But once I get into the rhythm, I hope I can find a good place."

Gord Fraser - Health Net p/b Maxxis

What has this race been like for you over the past two years?

"Obviously this [race] has eluded me. The first year, only getting to the start line an hour before the start wasn't the best. Last year, missing the break - I was in a move that came back and then there were fifteen guys up the road. We had Sayers in there, but we chased all day and there were a lot of teams that could have helped us that didn't. It's been a frustrating two years for me here in New York."

How has the preparation leading to this been?

"I feel good - I feel strong. I've got some big things coming up with Charlotte and the Olympics. I'm in a pretty good state right now."

Twice the runner-up in Philly week, what needs to happen to make sure that doesn't happen here?

"Just knocking on the door so much. Obviously, with Health Net, we haven't executed a perfect lead out yet. It's much easier to win when I don't have to freelance. Hopefully, we can execute a good lead out if it comes to a bunch sprint. I'd like to see that first, but let's at least execute and go down swinging, as Mike [Sayers] always says. Hopefully the guys are in good shape!

"Myself and Tyler had a good BC Superweek. I won the crit and Tyler won the overall, so we had some good success out there. I think we can win in many different ways. I think the best chance to win is through me in a bunch sprint, but we've been willing to mix it up a bit this year, giving other guys on the team a chance to win races. I don't have a problem with delegating the responsibility to win on to other guys. Just as long as we don't miss anything. To avoid chasing is every teams first priority!"

How does racing here affect your preparation for the Olympics?

"I'm concerned about [the training] because I have done a lot of criteriums - I'm going to be racing the Olympics with guys coming out of the Tour, so I'm at a disadvantage. It does have me a little concerned that I won't have the endurance for a 145 miles in the heat - I'm definitely worried about that."

Sarah Uhl - Quark

Was it tough to come here solo and not be with the team in Altoona?

"I'm completely excited about being here in New York. This was a very difficult decision because I was looking forward to following the team over to Toona - we just got off a couple of great weeks out west - we were at Cascade and at BC. That was a really great time with the team and then they went to Altoona. But considering that this race really suits me here and I am the defending champion, I really wanted to come and make a presence - not only for Quark but for me personally. There's lots of 'glitz and glam' coming to downtown Manhattan - especially spending a couple of days here. I KNOW what kind of crowd to expect and that is always an adrenaline rush!"

What are your tactics for the race?

"It's going to be hard to be incognito! I have to be careful and play a smart race - remain confident and remain patient. I have to look at who goes in breaks and take a gamble. Or really hold myself back in the [final] sprint - it's going to be a long one! I have a pretty good feeling it's going to come down to a field sprint. It's a really long race for women - an hour plus three laps. I don't have a problem with that, but it will be interesting. It's going to be a long last lap."

Would you like to see a larger women's field?

"I'm bummed that my teammates aren't going to be here - but I understand how important [Altoona] is for Lyne. I think this race has potential to gain the same prestige as Philadelphia and San Francisco, and I'd like to see that happen. Now that the women are back, that can happen. I hope were present a 'good show,' so that we get prioritised and that we get more hype about this event next year."

It must be pretty nice as a college kid to have a whole weekend to yourself in New York!

"Let me tell you, Sunday is also my twenty-first birthday! So I've been doing a little corresponding, making some plans all week! I've got a couple of friends flying in, getting a party together Sunday night! I'm so stoked!"

Uh oh, is that going to affect your Monday morning training ride?

"Come on, I am a professional. This is just the most fun 'career,' and the fact that I am turning twenty-one at the same time is more fun."