Photos by Scott Schaffrick
John Lieswyn, Mark McCormack and David Clinger were three of the strongest riders on the US racing scene this past season, and they're off to Hamilton to support the US effort in the Worlds. We asked them for their thoughts on the course, and how they plan to tackle it...
What are your thoughts on the course? How tough is it? What kind of rider do you think it favors?
Lieswyn: Judging by Nathan O'Neill's reports I'd say it is very hard. Scott Sunderland said that it favors those riders who have very quick recovery.
McCormack: I haven't seen the course. Based on the materials I have observed and the comments I have received from riders that have raced on the course it looks to be a very challenging course with two climbs per 8mile lap. I tend to think the race will get slightly faster as the day goes on and the battle for position will get more intense with each lap until finally the last group remains away. I think it will be won by a rider with good tactical and technical skills and is an all-around powerful rider. I don't think a pure climber or a pure sprinter will be the winner.
Clinger: I've never done it, but I think it's a tough course.
How do you feel the course suits you, personally? What do you think your role will be on the US Team, and how do you see the American squad tackling the race?
Lieswyn: Like Sunderland, recovery and tough guy courses suit me. I have been struggling a bit with distances over 120miles so hopefully that won't be a problem in 10 days time. My role will probably be to handle chasing and representing the team in the early kilometers. I think that I am somewhat of a "diesel" and would do my best work in the middle of the race. The US based riders on the team do have the advantage of being acclimated to the time zone here. I know I can do a good job for George.
John Lieswyn in San Rafael
McCormack: I am very optimistic about how the course will feel to me personally. As for my role within the US Team, I know I will not be the "leader". I am hopeful that we can avoid a mass chase by placing riders in all the key moves and forcing the other countries to have to chase instead. Our best chance for a big result will come if we still have good numbers in the last 1 to 2 hour of racing and the only way to achieve this will be to avoid chasing too much.
Clinger: I think it's pretty good for me. I'm pretty confident that I can do the whole course, but whether the team's plan is to put me in a position to win, or to have me as a team player I'll have to find out. I'm going in thinking I have a chance, but if they tell me to go up the road early, that's what I'll have to do. I think I'm one of the faster guys on the team, so hopefully they'll let me sit in a little bit. I think the first quarter of the race is going to be hard for me, because I havenít had much racing in my legs, so hopefully, once I get past that, I'll be all warmed up and ready to go.
It seems like there are a lot of guys on the US team who might have a shot at making a mark on the race, do you think everyone will unify behind one man or will the team look to play other cards as well?
Lieswyn: We will unify behind George, no question. Having said that, I was on the 1991 Worlds team that unified behind Lance, only to see that he was on a bad day. If George falters, I see Horner playing a surprising (at least to the Euro based guys) role for the US Team.
McCormack: Once we have our team meeting before the race we will all be on the same page and do our best to execute the race strategy.
Mark McCormack celebrates the team win in SF
Clinger: I'll follow my instructions, I usually do. Unless they give me instructions like, 'ride off the front for 40miles alone, because then I'll say 'where's my paycheck.' If they want me to work to protect George, or whoever's going good, that's what I'll have to do. Hopefully they'll know itís a good course for me, too.
With the US racing scene taking so many hits in terms of lost sponsorship, do you think that gives the North American-based riders some extra motivation to show up a little bigger? Do you think that situation will have an effect on the dynamic of the team?
Lieswyn: I'm not sure what the question is here. Again I'll say that at least as far as I'm concerned, I will be 100% at George's disposal, as long as I can. Hopefully that means some action... I would be disappointed to ride the race and never see the front or do some good work.
McCormack: I don't think so. I would think that the Worlds on its own would be enough motivation to prepare well. It shouldn't affect the team dynamic.
Clinger: Yeah, I'm up in the air right now, and it's tough. I'm planning on riding well. I'm workin' for a job.
David Clinger rides to victory in Connecticut
Last year, after the worlds, I talked to some of the guys on the team, and one of the main things that came up is how tough it is to prepare for a race like the worlds racing in the US when we don't have as many races of that length. How hard do you think it is for a North American based rider to be ready for this race? Are there any special measures you're taking to be prepared?
Lieswyn: It is very hard considering the relatively extreme length. Throughout my career I've found the wherewithal to suffer through distances that I normally don't race or train for, so I know that Oct 12 will be a big day of suffering for me. I think rides like Jason Lokkesmoe's in SFO show that American based pros can be competitive against Euros, but we do need to recognize that Worlds will contain a very deep field; perhaps not as deep as at the Tour but still more competitive than SFO. All this is somewhat obvious, and it's also why I am not going to Hamilton to be a worker for the final 50km, so much as take the pressure off George's main lieutenants in the early to mid race.
McCormack: I duplicated my Philly week and San Fran prep for the most part. I had good success with those events and am optimistic that my Worlds prep will be as effective.
Clinger: I'm doing a lot of motor-pacing, and putting in long miles to make sure I'll be ready. In the pro-race, it's the distance, definitely. If you don't train those kind of miles, or race that distance regularly, that makes it harder, of course. The guys in Europe are coming from the Vuelta, doing 100 to 120 miles per day, then the 120 mile world championship feels like nothing after that... But, a lot of guys flake-out at the end of the year, too. They leave the Vuelta, and they just don't keep that form. The smart ones do, though, and they'll have a good ride at the Worlds.