January 8, 2006 – The soft-spoken and well-read Phil Zajicek is a far cry from the typical cyclist: The 26-year-old from Tucson, Arizona has been called one of the hippest cyclists around, and thrives on good coffee, fine food, good wine and good books. Zajicek was born in Eugene, Oregon and has ridden for several teams in his career, including powerhouse squads like Saturn and Mercury. The past few years, Zajicek has raced with the Navigators team. After a roller coaster past few years, it seems he’s ready to roll again. Pedal caught up with the rider recently in his native Tucson.
Rank your season, how was it to come back after a tough ’04?
Phil Zajicek: 2005 was an interesting year, some good-some bad. I had a slow start to the season after a very extended off season. Just as the legs were starting to get back up speed I had a crash and managed to crack my calcaneus. So, a month off the bike and Philly missed made me refocus on the end of the season and the Tour of Britain. Britain went well and I was able to pull off a 4th overall.
What were some of your best moments in ’05?
PZ: Tour of Britain for sure was a high point. Being able to go blow for blow with some of the top guys in Europe was awesome.
How is training? You will be headed to Oz soon? When did you restart your training?
PZ: Training is going great, Tucson is awesome this time of year. I’m already deep into intervals and motorpacing. Tour down under is coming up quickly then the Tour of Cali. Pretty heavy early season.
You’re with Navigators again – were there any offers from anyone else? Did you come close to something different?
PZ: I was interested in heading to Europe full time but in the end I am very happy to stay with the Navs. They have a great split program between Europe and the USA.
What are your goals for ’06?
PZ: Right now I am focusing on a good result at the Tour of California and the Tour of Gila. I think that a top five in Cali is a realistic goal.
What kind of changes are at Navigators for ’06 – new faces, new races?
PZ: Navs have changed a bit for ’06; we have a few more Eastern bloc guys and two more Aussies. I’m looking forward to heading to Oz to get to know the new faces.
How has your off season been? Drinking lots of coffee and reading lots of books?
PZ: This has been a fun off season as always. I’ve been doing quite a bit with the house, I’ll begin framing a few walls and installing a garage door to close in my carport. Sanded some wood floors last week. Been doing lots of coffee bean roasting as well, I’ve always been an espresso nut and this allows me to control one more crucial aspect of my coffee.
Thanks Phil, and best of luck in 06.
PZ: Thank you very much.