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