September 12, 2005 – As the Tour of Spain enters its final week, Pedal Magazine caught up with Canada’s Michael Barry for his thoughts on the race.
How are the legs? Are you pleased with things this Vuelta? Was your prep any different than in previous years?
MB: Overall I have felt quite good. I had a stupid crash before the start in Granada that annoyed me a little physically but otherwise I am pleased with how things are going.
I felt good yesterday in the mountains and was able to help Tom until the final ascent. I hit a patch last week where I didn’t feel great but I think most of the peloton went through the same patch. I didn’t find out I was doing the Vuelta until 10 days before so my training and mental focus was a little different than in past years. I was busy with Liam’s birth but still training well and focused on the end of season classics. So I quickly changed my focus and it turns out I trained well enough, had good fitness and have felt okay in the last two weeks.
You had a great stage early on – almost taking the jersey. How did that feel?
MB: Well, I was motivated to go for a stage win, and still am, but early on in the Vuelta it is rare for breakaways to stay away as there is still so much motivation and horsepower in the field so we were unlucky and got caught. I tried again the next couple of days and was again in breakaways but we never made it within striking distance of the line.
How consistent have you felt? Where were you feeling good and where were you feeling not as good?
MB: I went through a bad spell after the first TT. I wasn’t bad but wasn’t climbing nearly as well as I had been earlier on or before the Vuelta, so during those days I did my job for the team and they took it as easy as possible on the final climbs to rest up for the next days.
How’s Tom [Danielson] doing?
MB: Awesome. He is proving here that he can be a Grand Tour overall victory contender in the future. He has all the qualities – he can TT, he can climb and his endurance is also improving.
What did you think of Roberto Heras’ stage yesterday? Have you talked to your former teammate lately? Why is it he does so well here but not in the Tour this year?
MB: Roberto and Liberty were extremely impressive yesterday. As it was the last major climbing stage, they had one day to rock the race and take the jersey and they did it. The tactics they employed, their strength as a team and Roberto’s power was unequaled in the peloton – they simply out rode everbody else on a very hard day. I speak with him a little in the bunch, mostly just small talk. He is Spanish and is always that much more motivated in Spain. He rarely races outside of Spain and is on a Spanish team who’s major focus is the Vuelta. He is comfortable in that environment and therefore does well here and not in France.
Have you seen Liam and your wife, Dede lately?
MB: Not since we were close to Girona over a week ago but they are driving here tomorrow. Dede sends me pictures everyday – I now know a kid can change a lot over a three-week Tour.
Are you looking forward to the Road Worlds? It is a flat course – what will you try and do – sprint or get away?
MB: I am really looking forward to the race and feel ready. I actually don’t think it will come down to a massive sprint as the race is long at almost 280 km, and the teams are now smaller so it will be really tough to control. I would imagine it will be won out of a group of 15 or so and it will be a tactical race. Therefore, to do well I will have to be patient and play my cards right. I am motivated and think I will come out of Vuelta in good condition for the Worlds as many of the stages here have been over 200 km and have been fast.
Your team and also Rabo are losing a few riders – does it get tough in a Grand Tour when the team shrinks a little?
MB: It is tough, as you can’t really do much as a team in the race. Now that we are four we are simply taking care of Tom in the mountains and then taking turns trying to slide into breakaways. There are now many teams with depleted rosters and there are also a good number of riders just hanging on and making it through. It has been a fast and tough race and the effects have taking their toll on the peloton. It is also a lot more quiet at meals now and on the bus.
For more about Barry’s book, “Inside the Postal Bus” visit www.michaelbarry.ca