You’re prepping for your first Giro. How do you approach this race contrasted with how you looked at the 2015 Vuelta?
Coming into the Vuelta last year, I looked at it with a slightly more relaxed approach. It was going to be my first grand tour and I was going there for the experience of riding my first three week race. I’ve checked that box now, and I’m going to the Giro with greater perspective. Physically speaking, the training and preparation is basically the same, but I’ll approach the Giro with more clearly defined performance objectives.
You have been doing a high volume of altitude training. What’s it been like to be stuck on that volcano, just grinding away day after day? Does it get old? How do you guys keep things fresh?
The team has spent a lot of time at Teide on Tenerife. I arrived this week, and it’s actually my first time here. So far, I’ve found it nice. The roads are excellent, the weather is normally pretty good, and the hotel is very accommodating to the cyclists that come here to train. Perhaps the one drawback is a lack of non-cycling activities. We are in an isolated location, and there is not much to do besides training, sleeping, and eating. Maybe I haven’t been here long enough yet for the monotony to make me dislike the place but I actually like the focused environment for two or three week stints. When you go back home in between races you can devote time to doing other things, but for now I kind of like living like a monk up here on the moon.
Jonathan Vaughters is your trainer. And the big boss on the team. What’ve you learned about him through working with together on a closer level?
I was a little apprehensive at first, as it was JV’s suggestion that I try working with him as a coach. I’d be reporting straight to the top on everything and I wasn’t totally sure I was comfortable with that. Having worked together this winter, I’m actually really happy about it. It has required some faith on my end, as my training has been, at times, somewhat unconventional. That said, I’m confident in what I’m doing, and I hope that it will pay dividends come the Giro in May. In the past, I’ve preferred a coach that is a bit more hands-off as constant contact can be a bit of a stressor for me. With JV we talk about how everything is going on a daily basis, and the training is very specific; that’s something that previously I would say I was less inclined to be into, but for whatever reason I’ve found it a good balance. JV was a rider at one point, and I think that experience brings an added perspective that can humanize the side of cycling that can at times become a bit robotic. The proof will be in my results over this season, but so far, I’m happy with the change.
Rigoberto Uran. Describe in one sentence.
A mixture of Mick Jagger and Tony Montana with flowing locks that are bad to the bone!
Joe Dombrowski. Describe in two sentences.
Tall, dark, and handsome. Modesty is my greatest quality.
What to you most look forward to about the Giro?
I’m looking forward to coming into the race with a clear leader, and clear objective, with the experience of having ridden my first grand tour last year. I’m hoping to be a good support rider for Rigo particularly in the mountain stages later in the race. Additionally, I’m looking forward to the stage over Col de la Bonette. I’ve spent a lot of time training at altitude in that area because it is close to where I am based in Nice. The riding is stunning, and I have friends and family that are going to be out on the road watching.
And what do you most fear about it?
I suppose I fear failure. Or a lack of delivery. Other than that, not much. Actually, the weather too. I love racing in the heat, but can sometimes struggle in the cold, and you never know with the Giro.