Michael Barry Intent
Photo by Scott Schaffrick
Canadian Michael Barry took on his first Grand Tour in Spain riding for the US Postal Service, but his virgin run ended abruptly in a nasty tangle with the road and one of the race motos. This year, he looks for redemption, and another chance to prove himself in the crucible of a grand tour. The Daily Peloton checked in with Michael this week about heading in for another go, how the postmen like the parcours, and who they've got an eye on for the 2003 Vuelta.
Last year's Vuelta was your first Grand Tour, but you had a horrible crash. Tell us again what happened to you - there was a motorcycle involved, right? Was that a big disappointment?
While descending a climb I crashed with four other riders. The peloton was lined out at the time and motorcycle was either in the line or very close to it. We hit the ground and the motorcycle came to a stop with me under the front wheel. It was a heavy bike and it pushed me along the pavement for a few meters. I sustained a lot of roadrash and didn't have much clothing left on my body.
I finished the stage, but didn't start the next day. It took the Doctor and soigneur 1.5 hrs to patch me up that evening and we discovered I had a two broken ribs. I now have a few memories of the crash covering my body. It was hard to leave the race and the team. Many of the guys on the team were really supportive after I crashed and called and checked up on me the following weeks.
Does the fact that you didn't have much of a chance to prove yourself,
and get that first three week race under your belt last year add to
your motivation this year?
Yes, it does. Even though I didn't finish the race last year I feel more confident going into it this year - I have a better idea of what to expect. We have a great team this year, and I don't want to let our leaders, or the team, down.
Where are you expecting to make
your biggest contributions?
I think I will be most effective on the flats and on the smaller climbs, protecting the leaders, keeping them out of the wind and in good position.
How do you like the course? Do you think it will favor Postal, and what's
the state of the team at this point? Is everyone ready to rumble? Can
you give us a sense of the mood, heading in?
Last week three of us were training in the Pyrenees together. We are all very motivated and the vibe is good. The team is fresh and ready to go. Floyd and George missed the early part of the year so they are still feeling good and are motivated. The Spaniards are motivated as they are in their homeland and can all be in the first ten overall. The rest of us are motivated because we had a good rest during the Tour.
The course is good for USPostal. We will be in the Pyrenees in the first week of the race so hopefully Roberto can hit the first time trial with a good advantage on his rivals. We have a good team for the TTT and it would be nice to give Roberto and the other climbers a boost on their rivals before they hit the mountains. I think it will be nice starting in the north and heading south as we will hoepfully have less days in the heat.
Roberto had a tough Tour de France, do you think he's put all
those troubles behind him, and is ready for the Vuelta? This year the
race has some tough ITT's, which have been his downfall in the
past. Is US Postal approaching the race, unified behind one
leader, or ready to play other options... or both?
Roberto has recovered from his illness in the Tour and will be our leader in the Vuelta. The TT's don't favour him but there are still many hard climbing days. We ascend La Pandera again this year-the first stage he won last year. The last TT is uphill so he can do well there as well. If he is climbing at his best he can win the Vuelta and we will race to get him into that position. If something happens we have a team with a lot of depth that can still take control of the race.
Who will you Postal guys be looking out for as the most dangerous
The big names really-Aitor Gonzales, DeGaldeano, Casero, Sevilla... I am sure a few others will pop as the race progresses.
You can keep up with all of Michael's latest news on his website at www.michaelbarry.ca