Shortly after checking into the race hotel in Philly we ran into Monex rider Gordon McCauley as he was returning from a training ride in the rain. Gord was teasing the Colavita Olive Oil ladies who were on trainers under the carport of the hotel when I approached. We have been playing email tag for a couple weeks and managed to totally miss each other at CSC Invitational, so Gordy suggested we meet up an hour later in the hotel pub.
Racing in America versus Europe, where would you rather be?
I would like to get back to Europe. I do like racing in the states, but I would like another shot at Europe. I really enjoy riding in Belgium, with the cobbles and the wind and messy weather.
You said in your diary that in races you feel like bad weather and sloppy conditions favor you Ė your phrase was ďthe shittier the betterĒ. So on Sunday in Philly, if the weather is as crappy as it is today...?
If itís raining it will greatly improve my chances.
Why do you think you ride better in adverse conditions?
I think itís because I gain motivation and every one else loses it. I donít know, I mean in the gravel road race we did in Boulder I think I was the only one in the team looking forward to it! Everyone elseís head seems to fall off when itís shitty and wet. Itís just a head game, if you can convince yourself that youíre going to do well, then you will. I mean I ride well when itís sunny as well but I like it when itís raining.
You have said that your goal was to move up in the NRC rankings this year, and in order to do that you would need to improve your climbing skills. It sounds like you have improved climbing based on the uphill time trial from Joe Martin?
Iím climbing okay now, I didnít climb well in our early tours but then I was working for Davide Frattini and it only makes sense to work for our natural climber in those races. Now the one day races are coming, Iím in the top 20 on the NRC rankings and Iím moving up almost with every race.
At CapTech you took a flier off the front and stayed there. I researched other races of yours and found that this is your habit Ė you leap out and are gone!
If I feel good I take it. In Lancaster though I waited. Youíre racing with first division European teams so you have to race like a European. You canít race based upon how you feel, you have to wait, wait, wait, wait.
Gord after winning CapTech, photo by Marianne Werz OBrien
How hard was that for you?
For me thatís pretty hard. Youíll often actually find me as last rider, rolling around in the back. Everyone in the middle is fighting for wheels for no reason, so Iíll ride in the back where thereís no stress. I mean, if it were windy Iíd ride at the front, because you need to. Or if thereís a hard hill coming up, like Trenton, I rode round at the back but as we were coming up to the hill each lap I always rode at the front because you have to or youíll be dropped.
What type of racing do you prefer? I notice you do really well at the crits, but in your diary you lamented, ďIíve become crit scumĒ! (Gord cringes) Donít you hate it when your diary comes back to haunt you?
Damn! I thought nobody read it! (Gord laughs) I prefer road racing to crits, but. The ďcrit scumĒ thing is just kind of a joke. A couple of my friends and me, we have an imaginary superhero called ďCritManĒ who only drinks Redbull, only eats jelly beans, and only trains one hour a day. So at the moment Iíve kind of become CritMan.
Crit Man!, photo by Marianne Werz OBrien
How much time do you have to spend on the road in the season? Do you ever get home?
I donít get back to New Zealand during the season at all, but in Europe I owned my own house. In Europe you do a race and go home, do another race and go home. But here itís totally different. I left LA in the team van two months ago and Iíve been doing the crit circuit, and Joe Martin, and training camp in Colorado and now back here. So Iíve been on the road for two months living out of the van.
Two months of living with any group of people in a van and hotels on the road would be awfully hard.
Oh yeah. And we are on a small budget too so we cram a lot of people in a hotel room on airbeds.
Do you also do the host homes?
Yeah we were in a host house in DC with some really nice people, and in Arkansas. Where we can do it we go to host houses and the people are really cool.
The Olympic team?
I didnít make it. They selected Julian Dean, Jeremy Yates who both deserve to be on the team. Iím really disappointed that Iím not on the team, but itís been decided.
You briefly retired to a real job...
Iíve retired to a real job twice in the last two years. I had no contract at the end of last year when Schroeder folded and I had to pay the bills. I still trained; Iíd train at night and on weekends. And I actually drank quite a lot of beers...
Thatís training also, just a different sort!
Like the Atkins diet Ė it was the Gord Diet, the yeast diet!
The Athenís crit Ė what was that like?
We had just driven three days to get there, and were all a bit tired. Gaggioli and I got a call up to the front row, which was great because you pretty much had to be on the front row. Our other riders were Andy Crater and the kid, Gritters, who started further back. A break got away with Emile and Brice Ė Emile is actually one of our teammates now. We signed him after that. But by the time Andy and the kid got up front they were wasted. Iím not sure why but Jittery Joeís wouldnít help us chase, McGuire wouldnít help us chase. I donít understand it. They obviously werenít racing to win. They were racing to place, we never race to place. We race to win. Weíd sooner throw away a good placing on the chance for a win. Winning is what counts in pro bike racing.
When you are riding in the van for three days, do you pull the bikes out and put them on a trainer?
Itís kind of hard. The first day we went for a ride in the morning, but itís kind of awkward when you stay at motel because you have to check out early so you canít go back and have a shower after the ride. Thereís nothing worse than sitting in a van all day after riding without having had a shower. So some of the time we just hit it hard Ė drive from 6 in the morning to midnight, get as much of it done as we can. Itís just better to head out and do it, just get it done. Itís called a band-aid Ė like when you have a band-aid on and you rip it off quick in one go? We band-aid it.
Have you given any thought to the new ProTour? Iím only asking because earlier you spoke of wanting to get back on a European team?
But that affects Division 1 teams, and Iím on a Div 3 team. Iíve been close a couple times, like when I rode here in Philly with Domo last time? I had a verbal agreement to go with Domo, but then Domo and Lotto joined and a lot of good riders were left without contracts. I think if I get back to Europe it would be unlikely that I would get a Division 1 ride unless I won here tomorrow. Even then I would probably be second division. They can still invite some teams to ProTour races, Iíve read the rules.
Will the non ProTour races survive?
Het Volk is still Het Volk. Gent Wevelgem is still Gent Wevelgem. Theyíre still classics. I donít care if theyíre on the ProTour or not Ė Iíd give my eyeteeth to win Het Volk! Even to finish in the first ten in Het Volk. Theyíre still classics, people still want to race them.
Tomorrow Ė youíre planning on winning obviously.
I think if anyone is starting the race NOT planning to win, they should go home. There are riders out there whose job is to support someone else, but I am the team leader tomorrow, so I have to plan to win. Iím not Fred Rodriguez, or Bo Hamburger or one of those guys. To win will take a lot of luck, but if you go into the race thinking you canít win then youíve given up.
I saw you riding in today, had you been out previewing the course?
Yes Ė Iíd been out training, ridden the course. Raining, two punctures. A good day.
Howís the course? Anything to watch out for?
The cobbles under the bridge, theyíre kind of dry but after all the riders go over them and over them theyíll start to get a bit slippery. But thatís all right, just slow down a bit.
Have you ever ridden mountain bike?
I did part of a season in England, got some UCI points but I just didnít like it. Mountain biking helped my climbing because in mountain bike races you race at your threshold for two hours. Thatís what I found the hardest, every race and after two hours Iíd blow up. Didnít matter how much I ate or how much I drank, after two hours it was lights out.
A six hour road race is easier, because in a road race you are below your max threshold most of the time and there are only some points when you max out.
How about sprinting? Do you like the battle-bot action that occurs in pack sprints or do you prefer just a clean sprint?
A clean sprint. Like in BikeJam it was a clean uphill sprint and I was 7th in a 100-rider field sprint. Lancaster I was 7th in a field sprint, because it was a clean sprint. In Trenton I just got out of it, there was no way. 130 riders screaming around those corners? No way was I going to be involved in that. I would like to be in a team where I could take a really fast sprinter to the line, Iíd like to be in the lead out train.
What would be your perfect race tomorrow?
You want my absolutely perfect, perfect, perfect race? If it went beautifully it would be pouring all day. I would sit in the bunch all day and Chris Horner would take off with half a lap to go and I would go with him. And he would let me win, so that I would ride hard for him and then he would be the US Champion. Because he wants the jersey, I get the win!
Sounds like a perfect plan! How much can non-US riders play off the US racers desire for the Stars and Stripes jersey?
If I get in the break with an American rider who has a chance to win, it is almost for sure that they will ride themselves into the ground to try to take the jersey. And since I have no interest in the jersey, after all I canít win it, then I am no threat to them. We can work together. Of course there are 40,000 other reasons I would go hard!
Now the inane questions: Your favorite part of being a bike racer?
My favorite part of being a bike racer is winning.
What is you favorite win ever?
Ever? Shlitzs Park Crit last year during Superweek. Fifteen thousand people down the start finish straight Ė and I lapped the field twice. I went off with Lieswyn and another guy, and then I carried on. That was probably my favorite win, and it wasnít just because I won. Last year on the Schroeder team, I mean we had some problems, but for that week we had five guys there (me, Jason Bausch, Pete Knudsen, Aaron Olson and Jacob Erker).
We never argued once, we didnít care who was in the break, we didnít care where they finished so long as one of us made the break. Everybody got along really well. It was exactly how youíd want a bike racing team to be. My most fond memories of being a bike racer are that week. We were just as happy if someone else on the team got a result, as we would be if we had won. So thatís my favorite memory of racing.
What you would be if not a pro-cyclist?
If I wasnít a bike racer I would probably be an assassin, or a porn star.
With that tattoo youíd be a colorful porn star, not that I, of course, have any firsthand knowledge about porn stars.
Thanks much, Gordon, hope your plan pans out tomorrow!
Visit the Gordís website here.
2004 Ė Team Monex
1st Boulevard Road race, USA
1st Stage 1 Northend Classic (Yuma), USA
1st GC Northend Classic (Yuma), USA
1st Stage 1 Tour de Temecula, USA
1st Santa Rosa Crit, USA
1st Nike Vision Crit,(LA), USA
1st CapTech Classic, USA - NRC
2nd GC Valley of the Sun, USA
3rd GC Tour de Temecula, USA
3rd Stage 1 Joe Martin Stage Race, USA - NRC
3rd Walterboro Crit, USA - NRC
2003 Ė Schroeder Iron
1st New Zealand National Championship - TT
1st KOM Southland Tour, UCI 2.5, KOM
1st Stage 4 Southland Tour, UCI 2.5
1st Dean Cooksley Memorial, NZ
1st Te Awamutu Open, NZ
1st Morrinsville Open, NZ
1st Auckland Centre Road Champs, NZ
1st Round the Mountain A grade, NZ
1st Eldorado USCF Race, USA
1st Long Beach Crit,California, USA
1st Ontario Crit,California, USA
1st Anger Managment Crit, USA
1st Shlitzs Park Crit, Superweek,USA - NRC
1st Holly Hill RR, Superweek,USA - NRC
1st Santa Barbara Crit, USA
1st Clif Bar Crit, USA 1st
1st Zoutlouw GP
1st Dresilslinter GP
2nd NZ Crit Champs
2nd Road Race Austria
2nd GP Herzele
2nd GP Lincoln, England - UCI 1.5
2nd GP Outer
2nd Paas Prijs Interclub, UCI 1.6
3rd GP Londerzele
3rd Shabogan Crit, Superweek,USA - NRC
3rd KOM Cascade Cycling Classic, USA - NRC
3rd Crit Austria
3rd GP Chamoix n Gistoux
3rd GP Orbaix
3rd GP Denderhoutem
2002 Ė RDM-Flanders
1st New Zealand National Champion Ė TT
1st New Zealand National Champion Ė Road Race
1st GP Wanzele
1st GP Puivelde
1st GP Strombeke
1st GP Zwevegem
1st Archer GP, England - UCI 1.5
1st Stage 6 Southland Tour, NZ - UCI 2.5
1st CSC Classic Berg Prijs, Denmark - UCI 1.3
1st Gravel Classment GP Midtbank, Denmark - UCI 1.3
1st Sprint Classment GP Midtbank, Denmark - UCI 1.3
1st Dean Cooksly Memorial, NZ
1st Gore to Wiakiwi Classic, NZ
1st Jock Wadly Memorial, England
2nd Bochem Crit, Germany
2nd KOM Southland Tour, NZ
3rd GP Midtbank, Denmark - UCI 1.3
3rd Sprint Classment Southland Tour, NZ
3rd Fayt le Franc, Belgium - UCI 1.5
3rd GP Stad Zottegem, Belguim - UCI 1.3
2001 (neo) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago
1st New Zealand National Champion Ė Road Race
1st Archer GP, England
1st Stage 3 Tour of Southland
1st Stage 4 Tour of Southland
2nd Stage 5 Loret de Mar, Spain
2nd Brussell-Ingoigam, Belgium
2nd Havant GP, England
3rd GP Puidelde, Belgium