Michael Barry Pre Tour of California Interview
T-Mobile's Michael Barry talks about the Tour of California, making the switch
to the Magenta team and more...
Photos and Interview by Greg Parks
Greg Parks: In the battle for stage wins,
there will obviously be some sprint finishes again this year. Last year,
T-Mobile did pretty well-- capturing two stage wins and the sprinter's points
jersey. It looks like your squad this year includes a couple of strong sprinters
in Greg Henderson and Gerald Ciolek. Have you been practicing lead-out tactics
with these guys, and does the team see the sprint stages as an objective?
Michael Barry: Yes, we have two of the fastest
riders in the peloton on our team and I think their skills are complimentary. We
have been sprinting a little during our training rides which helps us gauge the
speed and accelerations. Both guys are motivated to sprint well and to get the
season off to a good start, and the team is ready to support them.
Michael at the recent T-Mobile camp preparing for Tour of California
Photo by Greg Parks Photo/Design
Greg: It's widely believed that the race
will once again be decided in the time trial stage-- that there aren't any
climbs that are difficult enough to separate the top riders. Given that, Michael
Rogers stands out as a strong GC contender, but would it be better for T-Mobile
to have the leader's jersey worn by another team until the TT-- giving you more
freedom to play in the first 4 stages?
Michael: You're right in that the overall
classification will likely be decided in the time trial. But, that said, the
courses prior are selective and I think we might see some groups of 15 riders
are so coming to the line for a sprint. It will be our goal to get the sprinters
over the climbs so they can make it to the line for the sprint for the win.
Right now, it is hard to say how the race will shake out as it is early in the
year and we don't really know how the other riders are riding at this point. We
are confident in our condition and training and are going to the race motivated
Greg: A lot can change depending on who's
wearing the leader's jersey, but what do you see as your personal goals in this
Michael: Our goal is a team victory, and team
victories. It doesn't matter who wins but that we win. So, my goal is to do
everything I can to get victories for the team--whether it is me or a teammate.
I feel good, and fit and as always, racing in America is unique and special as
we don't often get to do it, which in itself is motivating.
Greg: A stage win would obviously be
terrific-- besides being in great form, what elements would have to fall into
place for that to happen for you? Do you want to be the guy that goes out in the
Michael: I think we will see where each rider on the
team fits into the race, and personally where I fit in, once the race starts. It
will be clear after the first couple of days as the race is hard right from the
Photo c. Greg Parks Photo/Design
Greg: You had a good, long run with
Postal/Discovery, where you were a valuable part of a highly successful team.
Looking at the whole T-Mobile lineup, it looks like you're again positioned
within a powerful presence in the peloton, but it also looks like this team is
built around multiple strengths-- as opposed to the largely single-focus of your
old team. Where do you see your greatest opportunities to contribute here-- and
do those opportunities mean you'll sometimes be playing a more aggressive and
less supportive role?
Michael: Yes, the team is very different and we
don't have one big gun like we did at Discovery but a team with diverse talents
that can be successful on all terrain. I really think this team's major strength
is the fact that there is a lot of respect amongst the staff and riders and a
good team morale can take a team a long way. I feel like I was able to learn a
lot at US Postal/Discovery and matured as a rider there. I can hopefully teach
some of the younger guys and contribute to the success of the team here. It is
up to me to take advantage of the opportunities presented to me, and I plan on
doing that as I am as motivated as I was when I was a junior. When an athlete is
surrounded with a good supportive group that in itself takes the athlete to
Greg: A lot has been said/written about
the measures that T-Mobile and CSC have taken to ensure their riders remain
clean-- and in doing so, project a clean image to the public. In practice, how
has your experience with the anti-doping program been so far? Do you find it to
be substantive, and do you hope that other teams will follow suit? Do you think
the best place to take action is at the team level, or would a more uniform,
sport-wide approach be more appropriate?
Michael: I truly hope that the doping measures
become uniform throughout the peloton as I believe it is the only way the sport
will be viewed as clean. The teams need to be more responsible for their riders
and need to be held responsible as well. T-Mobile is now setting the standard
and the riders and staff are committed to it as it is the right direction for
the sport. Hopefully, these tests are not only tests used in cycling but in all
sports. I hope that one day my son can play a sport, or compete without having
to worry about the other athletes cheating.
Greg: Do you get a sense that riders and
management throughout the sport understand how critical the situation is, or is
there still some level of denial?
Michael: I think there is a major division in the
peloton at the moment. Some teams see the dire situation the sport is facing
whereas others are still stuck in a mentality and way of business that was
pervasive over the decade. Cycling is small world and some people can not see
Greg: It's well known that you and George
Hincapie have been close friends over the years. Professionals that you both
are, being on different teams doesn't mean that your friendship can't continue,
and you'll still train together in Girona. However, if one day in a race, (here
comes the crazy hypothetical) you find yourself in a surviving breakaway with
him... (you can finish the crazy hypothetical from here...) Is that something
that a rider at your level even thinks about, or does instinct and training
automatically take over in competition, so no second thoughts ever occur?
Michael: We race each other in training so surely we
will race each other in a race. We are friends but as athletes we are
competitors. Regardless, of what happens in the race we will be friends as soon
as we step off our bikes. When we train together we sprint for signs, the tops
of climbs and push each other to go faster and work harder.
Greg: A family question-- Your little boy
is two years old this year. Do you have one of those kid trailers so you can
take him along on recreational rides? Does he love the outdoors as much as his
Michael: Yes, we have had him on the bike a few
times, but he seems to be more of a runner right now. He doesn't like being
confined at all and loves to cruise around Girona, or wherever, we are. Once his
legs are long enough to reach the pedals on his bike, I think we are in for some
trouble. He has spent more of his life outdoors than indoors and at about 10 am
each morning his is trying to put his shoes on and is pulling at the front door.