Dylan Casey has come off an early season with some hard luck to become the second US Postal Service rider to claim a National title this year.
While Lance Armstrong and his teammates were destroying the opposition on the roads of France, Dylan prepared for and successfully won the National Time Trial Championship in Franklin, Tennessee; a title he also won in 1998. You can read about all the glory in satisfying detail in Dylan's diary.
The Daily Peloton checked in with Dylan to talk about his Time Trial prowess, and his plans and hopes for the future.
You're not a stranger to the National TT Championships! You won the title in 1989 as well. How does it feel to know you've still got it?
It feels fantastic, and it couldn't have come at a better time. After a frustrating two seasons filled with injury and bad luck I was really looking for something to show I'm back, I'm still here and I've still got it.
Traditionally (in 2000 and 2001) I always took a break in July after USPRO to prepare for the end of the year, but this year I decided to keep racing and training like I did in 1999. I looked at the National TT and saw that it was on a perfect date for two reasons: first, the date gave me plenty of time to focus and prepare with some special intervals and motorpacing; second, all the training for the TT would bleed over into the end of the season. In 1999 I had a similar summer program in July while I prepared for the Pan Am Games. Well, in 1999 I had two top 4 TT's, a 3rd overall in the Tour of Holland, and a top 10 stage finish in the Vuelta. So if I can come close to those results this year I'll be happy.
You have had some bad luck over the past years, but you've been hanging tough. What's the catalog of ill-fortune you've had to contend with?
Starting in July of 2000, I had a knee injury that plagued my performance in the 2000 Olympic Individual Pursuit. Then in 2001, I had a horrible crash in Dunkerque that I never really recovered from for the rest of the season, despite a good ride in the Tour of Holland. Then again in Dunkerque  I crashed and broke my finger and my head. To top it all off I was racing at the Burlingame criterium three weeks ago, using the race as preparation for the national TT, when I crashed and broke my elbow.
Those are just the big set backs. It seems as if there is a whole list of minor ones that just seemed to keep me down. But, now I'm starting to have some good luck and some good "form."
I read that you like to approach a TT as a "controlled panic," what do you mean by that?
A controlled panic means that I'm totally focused for every pedal stroke keeping the pressure down and attacking every hill and corner, but at the same time employing a strategy. The controlled part and strategy are especially important in the longer TT's such as the one I just won. This Time Trial required a good plan because of the hills on the course, the wind and the distance.
What do you think are the most important ingredients to being a strong TT rider and to having a good ride in a TT?
Obviously, you have to have a good engine and a good position on the TT bike to have a good ride... but for me, I also have attention to detail. Once I know what the course is like, I think about my equipment, my training plan, what races I can use as preparation, etc. For me, training on my TT bike is really important.
Also, devising and practicing a routine that I use on race day is important. If I can, I'll do a TT the week before the actual race where I'll use the exact equipment, skin suit, helmet, glasses, wind trainer, etc., so that on race day there are no surprises. Over the years I have devised a warm up schedule. Once I know my start time I'll extrapolate backwards to what time I need to start my warm up routine. The idea is that if you have it all down on race day there will be no errors or surprises and I can focus everything on having the best race possible.
How early did you set the goal of winning this title, and how did you prepare for it in the weeks leading into your trip to Tennessee?
Well, after US Pro in Philly, the idea popped into my head. After winning in 98, I thought I didn't need to win it again; but this year I needed a good result and the timing of the race and the course was perfect for me.
I began my training for it about a month ahead of time. Chris Carmichael and the team were instrumental in helping me. I spoke with Johan and Dirk about it and they agreed it would be a good idea for me to go for it. Part of the program called for using some local races as training. I really like doing local races because they're fun and they keep me sharp. As my luck would have it I was caught in a small crash and ended up breaking my arm. It wasn't bad but I was limited to only being able to ride my TT bike... Ironic isn't it?
So from July 1st to the 17th all I did was ride my TT bike and do intervals, group rides and a ton of motorpacing on the track in San Jose. Some days my arm hurt so bad that I would have to ride twice in a day to break it up a little.
Last time we talked, you were nursing some injuries from your last big Euro outing, but you seemed strong in USPRO. Are you back to 100% yet?
Yeah, I was nursing a broken finger and a minor head injury... but I was super motivated for USPRO and I rode well to help the team. I was back to 100% before breaking the radial head of my left elbow. Now I'm back on my road bike and almost 100% again.
I'm getting really good at recovering from injury.
I liked reading in your diary that you were motivated to have a good ride in Tennessee by the tremendous performance of your colleagues in France! Were you surprised by how strong every single member of the team has been, or was it pretty much what you expected?
Yeah, on the morning of the 18th, I got up and checked the internet to find out that the team and Lance had crushed everyone and took the yellow... I thought to myself that it was a good sign and that I should keep the ball rolling.
I wasn't that surprised to see how strong the whole team is because our team is awesome. Everyone prepares all year for this month and we could probably have two teams in the tour this year.
Do you expect you'll stay with Postal next year? What are your hopes for next season?
I'm really hoping to stay with Postal, and I've been working really hard to show them that I'm a valuable asset to the team. I take great pride in doing my job no matter what it is and I work as hard as I can for the team. My one and only focus is to exceed the expectations of my teammates and the team management. If I can do that, then I feel like I'm doing my job.
What's next on the horizon for you? When do you head back to Europe and when you get there, what is your schedule looking like?
Now I have a week at home before leaving for Europe. It's nice to just do some long rides without focusing on intervals and motorpacing. I head back on the 30th to get ready for the remaining world cups and the Tour of Holland. I'm hoping to do the Vuelta, but if not, I'll be back to rock the streets of San Francisco.
Dylan at 190 bps during his warm-up for the National TT Championships.
On the podium with Chris Horner, Chris Baldwin and Adham Sbieh.
The Daily Peloton wishes Dylan a great fall season!
Keep up with all of Dylan's doings on his frequently updated and excellent Website.