January 16, 2009 (Mallorca, Spain) – We also caught up with Canada’s Michael Barry at the 2009 Team Columbia-Highroad’s training camp and official team launch in Mallorca, Spain from Jan. 10-11. Barry talked about feeling like a kid again, Columbia’s tight-knit crew, living in Spain, and his aspirations to finally ride at the Tour de France.
How would you compare this winter to previous ones?
Michael Barry: A lot more straightforward. Two winters ago, we moved and had a child which I’m told are two of the three most stressful things in life. But this time round I finished Lombardy and then I stayed in Gerona apart from one training camp. David Millar (Gbr) Garmin, who also lives there, and a couple of local guys and I formed a little training group and we’d meet up at a cafe and head out each day. I like living in Spain, it’s a lot more straightforward than in Canada. I don’t drive here, for one thing, and there’s less stress in general.
Team-wise at Columbia-Highroad can you comment on why there have been few changes in the line-up?
MB: We’ve been working really well as a group, and the results are there to prove it, so it doesn’t make any sense to change much. The victories kept on coming and every single rider you talk agrees that we have such good ambience in the team as well. It all worked brilliantly. Personally, whenever I went to the races I felt that it was like being a junior again. I had the same sensations as when I was a kid, joking around and feeling like everything was possible. That goes a long way. When you go to a race and don’t feel like you want to be there, it’s hard to get good results at it. But at this team, we had a good time off the bike – and on it as well.
What do you think created such good ambience in the first place?
MB: Losing our sponsor in 2007 and the tough times went through at that point. We dealt with those issues as a group and I think that brought us all a lot closer. We had to rise above it all as a group. Long-term, it’s been very beneficial.
You’ve come close to riding the Tour de France on several occasions, will this finally be the year it happens?
MB: It’s a big objective for me especially with a Tour stage starting in Gerona where I live. The management and I have talked about me racing in the TdF at the training camp and I know what I have to do to get there and what kind of team they’re planning to select. The Tour team will need versatile domestiques and I just hope I’ll be able to help out in the sprints and then be there in the mountains as well.
It would be awesome to be there and riding in a stage through your home town. I experienced that at the Worlds in Hamilton, something I never thought would happen. And now Gerona’s our home and it’s going to be amazing. Liam [Barry’s son] is at an age where he can understand what I do and he talks about Michael [Rogers] and George [Hincapie] and Craig [Lewis] and all these guys and he’s developed a relationship with everybody on the team so it would be cool for him as well.
As for me, the Tour is the one that has eluded me so far and I’ve got to get there soon. When I saw my age on the screen just now during the team presentation I realized that I’m 33 – but I don’t feellike I’m 33.
What about the Giro?
MB: I may also do the Giro and I’m currently down as a reserve. But if I don’t, I’ll do the Tour of Catalonia and the Dauphine as a build-up for July, which is fine as well.
All the best this season.