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Team West Virginia.
Last night I spoke with Greg Cook of the new divisions 3 professional cycling team - Team West Virginia. Here he talks about the team, their schedule for 2003 and diet-soda?!?! SpokePost.com would like to thank him for taking the time to speak with us!
SpokePost.com: I'm talking with Greg Cook manager of the newly formed division 3 Team West Virginia. Greg, has the team changed much from when you were the number one rated US amateur team?
Greg Cooke: In some regards, yes! But, we are still pretty much the same group of guys with a few new guys who are going to fit in nicely.
SpokePost.com: Excellent. Who are the new riders, and which riders are returning?
Greg Cooke: Returning are Scottie Weiss, Jim Baldesare, Pat O'Donnell, Wes Seigler, Ben Sharp and Jacob Fetty from a few years back. New to the team this year are some really great guys whom I haven't met in person yet. They are Mike Jones, Jon Hamblen, Conor Hurley and Tim Henry. All are good guys, and like I said before I think they will be great additions to the team.
SpokePost.com: Great. I know Mike Jones as he is from my hometown area. Who are you expecting to step up to the plate this season, let's say from the veterans and from the new guys?
Greg Cooke: I'm expecting all the veterans to step up this year. I know Jon and Scottie will be there, but I really think we can expect to see some great things from Jacob, Ben, Wes and Dave Wenger. Did I mention him as one of our new guys who we think very highly of? In the criteriums, I am looking to Baldesare and O'Donnell. But the younger guys like Hurley, Jones and Henry, I'm pretty excited to see what they have and how they'll contribute!
SpokePost.com: I've talked with Mike and he's feeling confident. I think you'll certainly see some good things from him.
Greg Cooke: I think Mike is going to do fine. It's like he said in an earlier interview, he's pretty much a pro with Cat. 3 experience. Once he gets some experience look out!
SpokePost.com: Sure! Who are your major sponsors this year?
Greg Cooke: Obviously, the State of West Virginia is our primary sponsor. Cycling sponsors include Merlin Metalworks, Cane Creek Wheels, ITM stems, seatposts and handlebars, Speedplay pedals, Biemme clothing, Northwave shoes, Limar helmets. I hope I am not forgetting anybody, oh yeah, of course, Fizik saddles. That's the majority. It is a small budget, this year.
SpokePost.com: Is Go-Mart out of the picture all together?
Greg Cooke: No, we just haven't secured anything with them yet.
SpokePost.com: Ok. What are some of the races that the team has set as "A" priorities this year?
Greg Cooke: We've only planned the first third of the year and big goals for that period are Tour of Georgia and US Pro. Tough races, no doubt, and lofty goals, but itís good to set the bar high. These guys can do it!
SpokePost.com: Tour of Georgia has a "proximity" motivator, I'm sure...?
Greg Cooke: Yeah, especially for our sponsors like West Virginia, since that is one of their markets for tourism, and for some of our guys from the southeast. Plus, since itís a Threshold event, it will be a well-run race.
SpokePost.com: Absolutely. I'm interviewing David Chauner tomorrow. I'll have to touch on that race with him a bit. Do you plan to do San Francisco?
Greg Cooke: Great. Tell Dave "hi." I've worked with Dave and his crew for years, so has my wife. He's a good man and puts on a great race. They used to organize the K-mart Classic in West Virginia. Yes, absolutely to San Franciso. We feel Scottie and Jon are well suited for that race, and what a great event!
SpokePost.com: Yes, awesome indeed. That "wall" type racing, like Gilmore Street, really favors certain types of riders, don't you think?
Greg Cooke: How about small, light, strong guys, like Scottie and Jon have proven to be. Again, that's a monumentous goal for our first year. But you don't get there if you don't reach.
SpokePost.com: Wouldn't that be great? I'd love to see that happen for you guys.
Greg Cooke: No question, we'd love to see that happen. Winning two National Championships last year was awesome, but winning San Francisco would be fantastic.
SpokePost.com: So I hear that you guys are renting a beach house in Pismo Beach for training camp? That should be fun.
Greg Cooke: No, that will be work. Certainly fun and the meshing of the team is part of it, but we will be training and racing the whole time.
SpokePost.com: Yeah, no "vacation in the sun," eh? Good way to build some comraderie in the team though.
Greg Cooke: Well, maybe. We'll have to keep Wes and Mike off the beach and on their bikes, but I hope some of the guys who come from northern climates will get a little sun and warm their bones.
SpokePost.com: Yeah, and keep Mike out of the 7-Eleven. I hear he likes to drink a lot of diet soda.
Greg Cooke: Hmm, I hear he and Wes met in a Gomart. Rumor is they were buying...seriously we are going to try to get Mike to stay off the diet-pop and keep his weight down this season.
SpokePost.com: Mike said he is lighter than ever right now, sub-170, although that may be top secret info!
Greg Cooke: No, that's what he says, but last season he started at that and got up to 180. He likes the pop.
SpokePost.com: [laughs] Must be why he switched to diet pop!
Greg Cooke: Yeah, diet pop...
SpokePost.com: I'd like to thank you for taking the time to speak, errr, uh, type with me tonight.
Greg Cooke: And thank you, too!
SpokePost.com: No problem! It was my pleasure.
Thank you so much, Matt, for allowing us to reprint this interview!