June 13, 2008 (Cannon Falls, MN) — Following the rainstorms on Wednesday’s Stage 1, Saint Paul Crits which forced a cancellation of the men’s race we caught up with some of the Canadian riders at the Nature Valley Grand Prix for pre and post race interviews on the Stage 2, Cannon Falls Road Race.
Martin Gilbert – Kelly Benefit Strategies/Medifast
You were second in this stage to Cannon Falls last year, what suits you about this course and what’s it going to take to go one better today?
MG: I think this course is really good for me and for the team. Today the weather is good and my form is coming along pretty good too. Adapting from the track to road took longer this year but I’m starting to feel good, so we’ll see. I don’t know if it’ll be me who will sprint today for the win – we’ll decide during the race, but it’s a good opportunity for us. I’ll try to win if it’s me who sprints, but if it’s another team member then I’ll try to bring him to the line in first place.
And I saw your director Jonas Carney giving the team a little ‘chalk talk’ – what advice was he giving you guys? I promise I won’t tell anyone else.
MG: (Laughs) I think some of today’s race is in open fields so there will be a lot of cross winds. We’ll see when we head out there and if that’s the case we’ll try to be the team at the front and not suffer as much while trying to keep at least two guys fresh for the sprint at the end. The other thing is we will chase all breakaways and things like that.
Kelly Benefit Strategies is based in Minnesota – how important is this race for your team?
MG: It’s a big race for us with a lot of sponsors, the team directors are all here so there’s a little more pressure to do well this week. Yesterday the team was at the front, ready for the end of race (before it was neutralized) so we didn’t have the opportunity to do well – so we’ll try to do it today and over the next couple of days.
Dominique Rollin – Toyota United
So Ivan Stevic told me that you went to a chiropractor this morning. What did you have done and how are you feeling after yesterday’s crashes?
DR: I just had the knee checked after a bad crash yesterday. Luckily it’s nothing bad, just some muscle tension so it looks good for today.
Just part of bike racing?
DR: Yeah, it’s part of it. At least we have the sunshine on our side today so it’s gonna make it a good day on the bike.
And what do you think of the course and the conditions, often it’s windy out there – good for both you and Ivan?
DR: We have a good team lined up and I believe that if the wind starts to pick up we can do lots of damage. But at the moment it’s pretty dead so we’ll just try to keep everything together and hope for a field sprint.
And what do you think of the finish circuits, do they suit you? (Note: the start and finish are both in Cannon Falls so the riders have a chance to preview the finish circuits before the race start.)
DR: It’s a good, tough circuit and I think I can do something. But it’s a great finish for Ivan Stevic, I think we’ll line it up for him or something like that and hope to get two guys on the podium.
Gina Grain – Webcor Builders
How is team Webcor approaching today’s stage?
GG: Today’s stage is actually good for Webcor. We have a small team here, with only four riders, some teams have eight, but we have a solid four. We work really well together and teamwork in road cycling is almost just as important as legs. So we have our GC rider (Katheryn Curi Mattis) that we’re going to be protecting and looking out for. And with finishing circuits today it’s more important for our GC rider to be up there for the next couple stages to come, so we’re going to be looking to keep her safe and if a break goes, if it’s one of us is in it without a threat to the GC, great, super, let’s go for the stage win. We have a very open concept that way but number one priority is GC.
Should it come down to a field sprint you’d seem to be Webcor’s top sprinter. How do you assess these circuits?
GG: Oh the circuits are great for a sprinter, it’s really technical, it’s got a good uphill sprint, so if it comes down to a field sprint my team’s definitely going to take the sargeant role and lead me out for that. So either way we’re in good hands, if it’s a breakaway or if it’s a field sprint.
You’re from Vancouver, did you hear that Trevor Linden retired yesterday?
GG: Oh my god, no, I didn’t – oh, holy cow!!
He was the face of the Canucks, is that the end of an era for you?
GG: There are a lot of great players on the Canucks, but that’s definitely an era ending for me, sitting at home watching some great hockey. So yeah, that’s a shock!
Did you know that he’s a cyclist as well? He raced the Trans Alps MTB stage race last summer on his holiday.
GG: No, I did not know that, I know that he was recently at the BC Road Championships. Hey, who knows? Maybe we’ll see a new face on the cycling scene. Hmmm… maybe I can go for a little cycle with him.
Martin Gilbert – Kelly Benefit Strategies/Medifast (teammate of Alex Candalario who placed 2nd in the stage)
So how did it go out there today? I saw Kelly Benefit Strategies massing at the front along with Health Net.
MG: Yeah, we had a lot of guys feeling good at the end so we tried to keep the pace. We had three sprinters, so the three of us tried to position well and it ended up that Cando had a good wheel so it was perfect and he took second place – we’d prefer a win, but we have a couple more days to win.
What happened in the final sprint? Was Kirk O’Bee just too strong?
MG: I think they (Health Net) had a lot of guys at the front at the end so that was good. And I think O’Bee’s in pretty good form as well so he’s hard to beat at the sprint.
Leigh Hobson – Cheerwine – teammate of Laura Van Gilder who place 3rd in the stage
So how were the conditions out there today?
LH: The weather was perfect, compared to yesterday, and it wasn’t overly windy so it was actually a perfect day for racing.
During the circuits we saw your team out front keeping the pace high. Tell us about your plan to try to set Laura up for the win.
LH: Definitely we wanted to keep it fast because it was kind of sketchy all day. There were a lot of crashes so wanted to keep it fast and safe and try to get Laura the win, but a podium’s pretty good too.
How did the final sprint set up?
LH: There was actually a crash in the second last corner so that gapped a lot of people off, but Laura was safe so I guess Kath (Carroll) went off and Laura and Anne (Samplonius) were up there. I wasn’t close enough to see the finish but I know that Laura was third and Tina Pic was first and Jo Kiesanowski was second. We’re happy.
What are your personal objectives for Friday’s TT and what do you know about the course?
LH: I haven’t seen the hill yet but it sounds like it’ll be a better Time Trial than if it were perfectly flat for me so I hope to make some time up from today and see where it takes me.
And I imagine everything’s preparation for Beijing.
LH: Yes, it’s all training baby steps for the one big goal now. It’s nice to have a higher goal at the moment as it takes pressure off the day because I’ve got a major goal to shoot for at the end of it all.
Gina Grain – Webcor Builders – (crashed in final circuit and finished 89th on stage)
So what happened out there?
GG: Yeah, there were a couple corners to go and I’m not exactly sure what happened but my front wheel washed out. Maybe I took the corner too fast. Somebody said later that another rider was coming into me, so maybe I was reacting to that. I’m not exactly sure but the long and the short of it I bit the biscuit and ate some gravel.
How had you been feeling up until then?
GG: Awesome, awesome, awesome. Second in the sprint classification and then for the finish all the sprinters were right up there and I was excited to sprint against everybody because it’s been a while since I’ve sprinted against those girls in North America so I was excited to battle it out, but …now I just add it to the list of unfortunate things that have happened this year.
So how many of these nice Maple Leaf jerseys do you have, since this one’s ruined?
GG: Actually, a lot. My team director knows me really well and I’ve already gone through a few (laughs)…so I’ll have a fresh one for tomorrow!