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A Chat with Michael Barry
By Staff
Date: 2/19/2004
A Chat with Michael Barry

By Locutus and Jaime Nichols

Michael Barry. Photo by Cathy Mehl.

DP: So you had a brilliant Worlds. That was awesome.

Michael Barry: Thanks, thanks. (laughs)

DP: Has that ride had an effect on how people are treating you, or thinking about your capabilities?

MB: Well, I think that the second half of the year last year, going into the Vuelta, the team had more confidence in me. I haven't been pressured at all, I've been able to progress at my own speed. So after the Worlds I got a lot of nice emails from everybody in the team. We'll just have to see how things go with the start of this year. I'm definitely really motivated to help George and Eki and some of the other guys in the early season races.

DP: Are you going to be riding the Classics then?

MB: Well, maybe a few of them. I don't know if I'll do the northern ones like Flanders.

DP: Paris-Roubaix?

MB: No, no, maybe some of the other ones.

DP: Liege?

MB: Yes. We'll just have to see how my form is going into the season.

DP: How did you feel about your performance in the Vuelta last year?

MB: Um, well for me it was an entirely new experience, just finishing and not crashing was good. (laughs)

DP: (laughs) We weren't going to bring that up…

MB: Going through Cordoba and making it through there safely last year was, um, I think both Dede and I were holding our breath. I have a lot of memories from that crash, like every time I look in the mirror. It was a really good experience last year, just being part of a winning team like that. We had a good group with the team, and for me it was good just to get through it. I was pretty steady the whole way through.

I had a few down days and a few really good days, but for the most part I made it through okay, and that was good to know because I'd never done a three week race before. It gave me confidence, and I think it gave me really good fitness going into the World Championships too. I was able to stay healthy through the whole thing, so it was a really good learning experience.

DP: Do you feel like completing a three-week race has changed your whole approach?

MB: I think having done one, going into the next one… I think even having done the first ten days of the Vuelta in 2002 made me a lot more relaxed. Just knowing what to expect within the team and how the race is going to unfold, that sort of thing. But the first two weeks; I've done two-week races before, and no problem, but the third week, that's where your morale gets down, you start to feel sick. I love the guys on the team, we have a good ambiance, but you're just spending three weeks with the same group of people, plus you're ready to be done with it. The finish was really, for us it was incredible.

DP: Especially that comeback by Heras in the time trial.

MB: For sure. We were all in the team cars driving back to the hotel, and the atmosphere in the car when we heard that he won, or tried to understand that he won, it was in Spanish, it was really, really good. The last three days of the race our morale was getting better and better, and we were seeing some huge improvements in Roberto, and seeing ONCE falter quite substantially.

DP: It looked like they spent a little too much time on the front.

MB: Yeah, they raced very aggressively from the first week, and were going for everything. Maybe that was kind of their game plan: they were trying to find a new sponsor, and I'm sure a lot of those guys were looking for teams, they didn't know what was going to happen, so it's natural that they'd want to get something going as quickly as possible.

We had a more relaxed approach to it all, really, and Roberto rode very, not conservatively, but just patiently, and got stronger through the race. He was flying at the end, and climbing really well.

DP: Do you have any nicknames? Because the one we use for you sucks. Do you read the Daily Peloton?

MB: Yeah.

DP: We write a humorous column about the golden hams of the day, and who's cute that day, do you know that column?

MB: Yeah. (laughs)

DP: Well our nickname for you sucks, and we need a new one for you, so we were wondering if you could help us out.

MB: Well on the team they just reverse my names, and that's kind of lame, so…

DP: Barry Michael? (laughs)

MB: Yeah, everybody thought my name was Barry Michael when I first joined the team, so…

DP: Do they make any Berry Floor jokes?

MB: Yeah, those are lame too. Nobody in the team does that, but I've heard a few people say that. When I was kid my name was "Little Ritchie," but I don't know why. Some guys don't pick up nicknames that well.

DP: You're probably just too understated and classy…

MB: Yeah!

DP: Thanks for your time, and good luck this season!

MB: Thanks!

Courtesy Michael Barry.

Michael's early season schedule:

Feb 18-22 Tour of Algarve - Portugal
Feb 29 Clasica de Almeria - Spain
Mar 2-6 Tour of Murcia - Spain
Mar 24-25 Criterium International - France
Apr 6-9 Curcuit de la Sarthe - France
Apr 18 Amstel Gold Race - Netherlands
Apr 21 Fleche Wallonne - Belgium
Apr 25 Liege-Bastogne-Liege - Belgium

Visit Michael's website here.

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