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Interview with Jonathan Vaughters
 
By Staff
Date: 3/12/2007
Interview with Jonathan Vaughters
 

by Alicia Hopkins

I had the opportunity to talk with Team Slip Stream's Director Sportif Jonathan Vaughters about the goals of Team Slip Stream both before the Tour of California and onward into the 2007 season.

 
      Vaughters proudly poses with Team Slip Stream's iconic mascot.

 

Alicia: What were the goals of team Slip Stream going into the Tour of California?

JV: We hadn’t come up with super concrete goals. It is always tough with a young, to say we are going to do this, this, and this. we just went in knowing we had a group of riders that were capable of taking as stage maybe, or a secondary jersey, or a top ten finish on GC, we just kind of figured that we will do the best with that.

Alicia: How did the team feel about Danny Pate winning the most aggressive rider?

JV: That was good. I think Danny is an intelligent racer,  he is still a little bit heavy as far as his race weight goes so he was not able to contest the overall GC as much as he wanted to. he knows what he is doing, he’s aggressive, he took chances at the right times, to shake up the overall in  the race. I think he deserved the jersey for sure.

Alicia: How do you feel about the Tour de Georgia coming up, do you have any goals for the race, if it is going to happen that is.

JV: Exactly. If it is going to happen. As long as it happens. I think the team will be one notch better at the Tour de Georgia than we were in the Tour of California. We’ve got riders that are a little bit more suited for that course than California which was time trial centered, whereas Georgia tends to be a little bit more hillier.  That suits our style of racing more so I think. I think that both Danny and  Tom Pederson are both capable of top ten overall finishes at Georgia, beyond that we will just sort of be the team that is nipping at the heels of the pro tour teams.

Alicia: The team is scheduled to race  in Europe this season, do you think you will be invited to any Fall Classics?

JV: I do not really know. I think the Pro Tour thing needs to sort itself out first before we figure that out. Our calendar in Europe is already full, really full. We have over 100 days of competition over there. We did last year as well., this year we are just doing slightly larger races. I think we it is pretty exciting for the guys, and they know the drill now. I think they will start to perform a little more visibly over there.

Alicia: As far as the Pro Tour is concerned, do you see Slip Stream becoming a Pro Tour team eventually?

JV: Well, if the Pro Tour  exists, I do.

Alicia: I read on your website that you feel that you have an underdog knowledge and that you feel your riders will benefit from that. Is that a  philosophy of yours that transcends from your career?

JV: Yeah, yeah it does. I think that a lot of times the best riders in the sport don’t necessarily  make good mentors or good directors because they were always in a position where they were enormously physically gifted and so to them you go to a race, and it’s like  well this is easy, you just have the team ride on the front all day long and then on the last hill of the day I ride away from everyone, so you know, we are just going to do that on this team. Let’s just have everyone ride on the front all  day, and at the end of the race we will have one of the riders ride away from everybody . That doesn’t work unless you are dealing with enormously talented guys, which of course we have very talented riders on our team, but I think they benefit from the knowledge of sort of  no always being the  highest horsepower team with the highest horsepower riders in the race, and how to still have a successful race when aren’t necessarily the big kid on the block.

Alicia: Speaking of dream riders,  If you could have your choice of anybody you could sign for the team who would that be?

JV: (Laughs)  I don’t know. I am hoping that our riders progress to the point  that we are going to have to pay them a lot more money (laughs) just to keep them around. There are certainly guys that we are interested in the future. David Millar is someone who I would certainly be interested in pursuing, George Hincapie would be another person who would be an interesting addition to the team.  I am trying to think of who else. we need a sprinter, Maybe Stuart O’Grady. We want to maintain it to be a majority American team, a couple French guys considering our French-centric calendar that we run over in Europe would be good.  Florent Brard , Christian Vandevelde maybe,. That is creating a dream team for me.

Alicia: As far as racing in France, do you feel that Slip Stream maybe considered for a a wildcard slot at the Tour de France?

JV: This year I think it would be pretty tough. So I am not crossing my fingers on that , but  in 2008 I do not see why not. I think it is very much within the realm of possibility, and a very realistic goal.

Alicia: When you decided to retire from cycling was it a natural progression for you to go into management?

JV: No not necessarily. I went into real estate first for a while, I just kind of got sucked back in. and here I am.

Alicia: So you were pulled back in sort of like the Godfather?

JV: Exactly. I was doing  real estate, and I was running a little junior development team.  Then Doug Ellis just sort of pulled me back in. He said I would like to create a big team that eventually does the Tour de France. And he said could you help me do that?  I said I am kind of only running this U23 team right now. He said well, do you think you could do more than that?  I guess there we are, and I was sucked back in.

Alicia: You have been involved in your development for a while, is there anything or any suggestions  you can think of that grassroots organizations could do to convince more youth to consider cycling versus football of basketball.

JV: I think the biggest thing is just difficult to make it accessible. Cycling is so complicated, you have to buy a license, show up to the race on your own, figure out how to race on your own. There are so many things for kids like with soccer its all so accessible, you sign up and show up at 5 o’clock and there you go. with cycling it is much more difficult for parents to figure out how to get their kids to the race and how this really works and why are we signing all these papers, and why do we have to pay this entry fee every time. I think it [cycling] is more complicated to get involved with in the first place.  The first thing I would say is with cycling clubs, if there are kids  that are showing interest, it is not so much they need mentoring and training, of course that comes later, but the first step is just making them understand, or maybe a little bit more easy to just show up and do the race. Once kids do a couple of bike races they’re hooked pretty fast.

Alicia: Would you encourage your own children to become cyclists?

JV: Yeah, sure. My son is more interested in like Chess Club and what not than athletics so far but you never know maybe that will change.  (Laughs). I certainly would, yeah.

Alicia: I read that you gave up medical school to become a cyclist, is that true?

JV: Oh, no no no. I never quite got that far! I certainly had an interest in perhaps going that direction, but I was not, no no, I never got that far in school.

Alicia: It is has been great talking with you Jonathan, and it was great taking your picture with the pineapple atop the team carat the Tour of California.

JV: (Laughs)..

Alicia: I hope Slip Stream does very well this season!!

 


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