Interview: Daniel Lloyd
This time last year he was knocking out 2 hours of tempo while I grimly held on
to his back wheel. Jump forward
another 5 months... it’s just a ride and chat and no contract for next season
by Eamonn Deane
This time last year he was knocking
out 2 hours of tempo while I grimly held on to his back wheel. The option to
come through was there but I was unable to take it. Even on the south coast the
weather was bad, it was either freezing cold or pouring with rain but mostly it
Dan Lloyd would not waver; he was
motivated at the thought of riding with his new team, Garmin-Cervélo and riding
for World Champion Thor Hushovd.
Fast- forward six months to the Criterium Du Dauphine, for two days Daniel
Lloyd and his Garmin-Cervélo team drove the bunch along. Watching on Euro-sport
the commercial breaks came and went and still the poker faced Lloyd sat on the
front. But each day as the finale loomed and Garmin-Cervélo faded, the man for
whom all the work was being done, Tyler Farrar, was nowhere to be seen. Not his
fault perhaps? After all, other teams had their tactics, cycling is not so
predictable. Had Farrar taken a win, perhaps Lloyd’s stock would be higher? It’s
the nature of team sport, good individual performances get lost in defeat, just
as poor performances can be hidden in victory.
Photo © 2011
Jump forward another 5 months, it’s the first frost of a very mild autumn on
the south coast and I am out on the bike with Lloyd again. There is no tempo
this time, it’s just a ride and a chat and with no contract for next season
Lloyd is contemplating retirement. The door remains
slightly ajar with one last opportunity, When will he hear?
“I don’t really know it’s the final chance really, at least with a top level
Is he fed up?
“I have got past the point of being pissed off that I cannot carry on; though
I think next year when the racing starts it will hit me. I am pissed off that I
have not got a final yes or no; it kind of stops you from continuing on. I like
riding the bike but if anything the last couple of weeks has taught me I like
riding it to get as fit as I can, I don’t just like riding, I have had plenty of
opportunities to go out but I cannot be bothered to go out. For me the whole
thing of riding is having that plan for the next 4 to 8 weeks to stick to and
trying to get better. It’s hard to stick to an 8 week plan, I don’t even know if
I will be racing!
What about racing at a lower level?
“Not straight away, no I will leave it 2 or 3 years, so I don’t have the same
expectation and other people don’t have the same expectations”
Staying positive, smiling Dan Lloyd
Photo © 2011
In light of recent comments from Hushovd, I ask him about the Garmin team, what
it was like?
“I enjoyed it the whole way through; I got on well with the staff, directors
and riders. I think, you know, our group as a whole, Cervélo did not seem to fit
in with the management, as there is only one who has been re-signed. (Andreas
Klier) None of us really know, the 5 of us that came from Cervélo that have not
signed for next year, what the problem was.
Back in April, May we were asking about next year and the feedback was all
very positive we don’t know what changed between then and the end of the season.
In May I was a bit worried about my race programme, I hardly had any days of
racing in June, July & August. I wrote to the Director, I don’t complain too
much but only had 12 days of racing in 3 months; I could have done with some
more racing. The team were aware of Lloyds concerns “If you are worried about
next year, you don’t need to be” he was told “When you have just had a kid it’s
something you want to hear” (Daniels son Jude was born in April) “If you hear
something like that and you are happy with the team you are with it stops you
looking round for another place”
In hindsight was it the wrong thing to hear?
“Yeah, I mean it did not change my work ethic or attitude on the bike in
training or racing or wanting to do my best. But it changed me in respect of
responsibilities with a house and family and keeping a job, you start putting
feelers out early, before we found out that Leopard Trek were merging with
RadioShack and before HTC were definitely going.
By the time I started to get the drift that actually there might not be a
place for me, that had all happened and there were loads of riders on the
market. Managers were waiting to see which riders they could take from those
teams. I am certainly not bitter and not blaming anyone, I realise there are
loads and loads of riders at my level, I have no right to stay here, if you are
Wiggins or Cavendish you have a right to stay in cycling but at my level there
are a lot of other people who have the same power, maybe not the same knowledge
& experience but they can gain that and they are cheaper when they are younger”
Uncomfortably honest as always, but it will be a
shame if that experience is lost to the sport...
“I was still learning as well, you do see a lot of young riders coming
through who have all the power in the world; I wish I had that talent. In terms
of helping a leader though, timing is as important as anything in terms of being
there at the right time, if you are not there at that moment all that power
By now we had stopped for Coffee in the Hampshire town of Ringwood. It was
market day and we looked slightly out of place in our cycling kit in the busy
coffee house. We manage to find a table on which we both put our smart phones,
mine to record the conversation, Dan’s, in the hope that it would ring,
I notice that the screen on his phone is all smashed up?
“I don’t know whether it was because I was stressed out at the end of the
year but I came off in training and broke my phone. It was stupid; I was
constantly looking at my phone in training. I kept thinking the next email was
going to be the one with more positive news, a gust of wind caught my front
wheel and I just ended up on the floor and smashed my phone, I was so pissed
off” he says ruefully. “When you are a pro you don’t really mind crashing, yes
it hurts but as long as it’s not your fault you accept it. When you crash in
training and it’s completely your own fault, it’s so annoying”
I take him back to when Cervélo was absorbed by Garmin, was he
relieved to be taken on when other riders were not?
“I actually had another couple of options, I could have gone to other teams last
year, and there were two fairly solid offers on the table. That’s the thing you
know, if you are in a successful team like Cervélo was or HTC when it folds all
the other teams come in like vultures and see who they can get. It’s almost
better to be in those teams, I don’t think out of those two teams anyone has
been out of a job for the last two years. When you are in a team that doesn’t
fold there is no way for other teams to know you are available. There is not
really a transfer system. They assume you are under contract, by the time they
realise you are out of contract they have filled their rosters!
Daniel Lloyd is a hugely likeable guy, after more than 8 years as a full time
rider I cannot imagine he has made one enemy in the pro peloton.
Why does he think he has no contract next year?
He starts to talk about less places being available but he tails off “…I’m not
really sure, it’s another surprising thing from within the Garmin team, I had
the support of a lot of the riders, big riders in the team respected what I did
as a team member and gave me support towards the management, you start to think
you must have done something seriously wrong if they’re not going to take me
when I have this much backing, I don’t know, you can speculate all day.”
I take him back further, to when he first went abroad to France to race in 2002,
was he nervous?
“I was, I had done half a year with Russell Downing out there and got a bit of a
hammering really, even though I had had a good first part of the season back
here, I had won a few races”
And if he does retire what are the highlights?
Tour De France obviously, it’s not everyone who gets to race and finish it. The
Tour of Flanders, that’s the one I really always look forward to”
Lloyd has been
on the scene a long time, I suggest that a lot of that time he has gone
unnoticed, does he feel ignored in the press...
“I’m not really bothered about it
you know, I never did cycling for the money or to get into the press. I wanted
to do the big races and get better every year and achieve personal goals that I
had within the sport and one of them was not to get as much press as I could.
It’s just not me, I not happy with self-promotion, perhaps in hindsight it would
be better, and my name might be in managers a heads a bit more.
“When I first
joined Cervélo, I did well and there was a lot of respect for the work that I
did. They rewarded it with a two year contract. I really got into the role of
helping others and was hoping that would continue for quite a few years. It’s a
bit like living your dreams through your son or daughter in some ways. I got to
the point where I knew I could not win a mountain stage in the Giro and I can’t
win the Tour of Flanders but I have teammates who are well capable of doing it
so I can be part of it. How fantastic it must be to be part of the world
championship squad, everyone talks about what how much of a team performance
that was, they can all look back at it and be part of the team that won the
worlds for Great Britain in 2011! The pleasure that Wiggins and Millar and all
the others got that day is what I get.”
Does he want to stay in cycling?
“I really want to stay in the racing side of the sport, I don’t want to stop
racing but I may not have any choice. I love racing at a high level and when I
get home and there is a race on tele, I will watch that as well” There are a few
different directions to go, it’s just choosing the right one”
It’s easy for me to urge him to carry on, to continue to chase the dream, but
Lloyd knows that at the end of every month the rent has to be paid. Two years
with a smaller team may put him two years behind in another career
difficult” he says...
No doubt other doors will open for Dan, he has ideas and there are opportunities
“Because I had not planned on finishing right now, I have not got a definitive
plan of what I want to do afterwards
It might be boring but what am I going to do next that’s not boring in
When we leave the café, the early chill is gone, it’s a familiar route home but
there is no urgency. We even go off-road, a short cut across the meadows, some
“rough stuff”, just for a laugh.
A day later Dan sent me a text:
The door that was ajar, had closed!
Follow Daniel Lloyd on Twitter
Eamonn Deane is a Sport & remedial massage therapist (LSSM, MISRM) In
Bouremouth. England. and has competed for over 20 years in endurance sports
including: swimming, running, cycling, triathlon, and mountain biking. His
training took place at the prestigious London School of Sports Massage (LSSM).
" I passionately believe in hands on treatment. I've also trained with Dr
Peter Levy in neuro muscular reeducation, a standalone treatment for soft tissue
injury. I have always used sports massage as part of my of my training programme.
As a competitor myself, I really understand how athletes feel when they are
injured and how important sports massage is, both physically and psychologically
for you to get back to your training."
Eamonn's cycling blog
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