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Interview: Svein Tuft
By Bart Hazen
Date: 12/19/2008
Interview: Svein Tuft

Interview: Svein Tuft

Interview with multiple Canadian time-trial Champion and World Time Trial Silver Medallist Svein Tuft.

Can you introduce yourself?
My name is Svein Tuft. I'm from Langley BC Canada where I have lived my whole life. I started very late in cycling, after 3-4 years of touring around North America by bicycle and trailer with my dog. I was 23 when I did my first race and I raced the tour de l'avenir the following year and somehow finished.

Why did you choose cycling as your sport?
I fell in love with the sport after touring up to Alaska a few times. I loved the freedom that came with being out on the road on a simple machine that allows you to go wherever you can imagine. I grew to love long hard days on a bike while touring in my earlier years. I found that the good days always exceeded the bad and I found a way to really appreciate those times.

What kind of rider is Svein Tuft?
I would say that I'm a bit of an all around rider. I haven't really mastered anything and I'm always learning new things everytime I race. I feel like I'm just starting to grasp time trialing and see my best years yet to come. I feel very fortunate to be part of a team that focuses so much on the details of time trialing.

Svein Tuft - silver medallist at the ITT Worlds in Varese
Photo 2008 Photoreporter Sirotti

Which hobbies do you have next to cycling?
I love cross country skiing, back country ski touring, Mixed martial arts (Brazilian Ju jitsu), hiking with my dog Lois, mountain biking and enduro moto cross. I have so many interests that in the previous years it was hard to just focus on cycling. Now I'm hooked and all I think about is how to go faster.

How do you look back on the 2008 season?
By far it was the greatest season I've had. For me it was a true example of hard work paying off. I stuck to my plan and never waivered and surprised myself everytime I got on the bike to race. It was also a bit of a stressful time as my team (Symmetrics) was folding. We were doing some hard races on a very limited budget. I was so proud of my teammates for how they stuck together as a unit through all the hard times. It was amazing to see these guys still sacrifice for one another as if we were getting paid the whole time. My team was the highlight for me this season. Every single one of those guys are my brothers.

What performance/achievement you are the most proud of?
I would have to say the Olympics is the performance I'm most proud of. I didn't have the opportunity to do proper races beforehand like my competition coming off of tour form, so I had to mimmick what they were doing. I spent long days behind my scooter with my dad or brother putting in long hours in the hot sun. I have to really thank them for their time and none of us would be where we were without that solid support from family. Also supporting Mike Barry to 9th place at the Olympics road race was a pretty great experience as well.

You are going to ride for Garmin after years with the Symmetrics team. How are your first impressions with this team?
Very Good. I've been speaking with Jonathan Vaughters ever since he started the TIAA CREFF team 3 years ago. We've always talked in the winter about me coming to join his team,but I was always committed to seeing Symmetrics make the next step. I really believe that Canada has the ability to compete at the top level but we just need people to take an interest. Unfortunately last fall our sponsors pulled out and we ran the rest of the year on a very small budget. I kept in touch with Jonathan this year and signed at Tour of Missouri. Garmin Slipstream is a really good setup. I liked the culture of the team right away and our camp in Boulder was a really good time.

Svein in action during the 2008 ITT Worlds
Photo 2008 Photoreporter Sirotti

What do you prefer the most in racing?
I think the thing I love most about racing is the moments out on the road where you really feel truly alive. The epic moments with teammates that you will remember for the rest of your lives. The unspoken things between your friends where you both know that was a crazy experience but there`s no way to explain. It was just great, that`s all.

What race has been a favorite of yours?
A stage race up in Canada called Tour De Beauce. It's a bit of love hate relationship. It's Canada's one true stage race and is known as a pretty hard tour. It has all the elements that make a stage race epic, Hills, cold windy weather, tough time trials,mountaintop finish and really hard circuits. I also really love Philadelphia. A one day 260km race on a beautiful circuit in downtown Philadelphia.

What races would you like to race in Europe next year?
Definitely the northern classics look pretty great. I really don't know how I will fare in those races but they look pretty amazing. I will look forward to taking a crack at a grand tour next year. The longest stage race I've done has been 14 stages so it will be interesting to see how the body deals with the 3rd week. Worlds TT is going to be a huge focus of mine for next year.

What will be more or less your racing schedule for the 2009 season?
Plan so far is: Tour of California, Eroica, Tirreno Adriatico, 3days de panne, Milan SanRemo, Flanders, Roubaix, Giro and Tour. We'll see how I go in the Giro first.

During the time-trial in the Tour of Missouri in which he finished as third behind Vandevelde and Rogers
Photo 2008 Action Images

Are you looking forward to any of the Spring Classics in 2009 which would you like to collect to your palmares given the opportunity?
Ha ha, I don't know about adding any to my palmares. My ability to last in those epics has yet to be proven. Roubaix looks awesome though.

Who has inspired you, or currently inspires you to race (or in the present)?
Anyone who puts their head down and is not afraid to throw it all out there. At any level that is what inspires me the most. A rider that inspires me is Michael Barry. Mike is a true professional and I have so much respect for him. I think he is the ultimate teammate and I've never seen someone who is so committed to the teams success that he puts his personal goals aside when in my opinion he`s one of the strongest guys out there.

How does your ideal preparation looks like for the new season?
Right now I`m in Tucson with my buddy and team mate Christian Meier, getting some hours in before we head home for Xmas. Back home it`s minus 10 and snowing so we made a quick plan to head south.After Xmas I will head to Fresno California to train for 2 weeks and then off to Siver city New Mexico for the Garmin training camp. 2 weeks later it`s tour of California, so this has been the ideal winter for me. I`ve never felt better at this time of year. Usually I`m up in BC skiing all winter but this year I`m really psyched for Tour of California.

When you flatted in the final 5 km of the worlds Time Trial what went through your mind as you got the wheel change?
I was thinking, I was probably on a pretty good ride but this incident wasn't going to help. I wasn't too stressed because you have no control of these things. It actually got me adrenalized enough to finish off really hard.

On the podium of the ITT Worlds with the silver medal
Photo 2008 Photoreporter Sirotti

After you collected a Silver medal at the Worlds in Varese did you start getting offers for teams for 2009 or did your 7th place at the Olympics gain more attention?
At that point I had already signed with Garmin Slipstream and I was quite happy to be there. So I really didn't have my radar on for other teams. In my mind it was the perfect end to an already great season. I had no interest in other teams at that point.

While with the Prime Alliance team you rode from your home in Canada to Southern California for the team Camp... a long ride down the west coast. Will a "training ride" like this be part of your preparation for racing in 2009?
Ha ha, I wish! Those were the good ol days. Life is a little different now. I look at things differently than I did back then.

What advice would you give to young North Canadian riders who would like to follow in your footsteps to a pro career?
I would say one of the biggest things to remember is that this sport takes time and patience. In the first few years you will have no idea of your abilities for the future.Just a few glimpses here and there. There are so many other elements that you need to handle this sport and it`s not just talent that you can rely on. You have to give alot of your life to start seeing the payback, so you have to be able to really enjoy the lifestyle and all of the traveling it allows you to do.

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