The combined forums of the Daily Peloton and
Cycling4Fans came up with lots
of questions for Marcel Wüst, who kindly took the time to answer all of
them. The questions and answers run the gamut from doping to eating to
Where do you keep the King of the Mountains Jersey from the Tour de France?
How does that feat
rank with your other great feats over the years?
One of the jerseys is framed and decorates a wall in my living room. Not
that I am
especially proud of it, but was probably the most unusual reward I ever got
for riding my
bike fast...even if it was “only” a 950m sprint.
Marcel, it's well known that you're a real language buff, but what language
do you think is the
most beautiful apart from your mother tongue?
I really like Spanish, especially when it comes to music. I think every
something special, but having spent so much time in Spain it conquered my heart.
How's your right eye; did your sight improve since retiring from pro cycling?
No, still no improvement...totally blind, but life with one eye is
possible and I got used
to most things. Just driving in the dark when it rains is a worry...but that's
probably a worry
for most people with 2 eyes.
Of which young sprinter do you expect the most in the coming seasons? Can
Hushovd and Co. take
on Petacchi and McEwen anytime soon? And is Cipo just grabbing cash in yet
Young Tom Boonen made a big impression on me last year. If he stays
grounded he can be the
man for many years. Baden Cooke as well as Hushovd can beat anyone on the right
Cipo is special, but I reckon he just does not want to quit on a year like 2004.
It is hard
when you are up there for so long, let's not forget he won over 40 stages in the
much more. For me he is the greatest of all time!
In your opinion, what makes sprinters so streaky? (They run so hot and cold,
results-wise - I'm very curious about that.)
When you have the chance to win you will give everything for it...that's
why. If there is a
sprint for second the motivation and “grinta” is not even half. And every
sprinter knows that
even if the form is bad, if there is a bunch sprint, he might be able to get a
What are you most proud of accomplishing in your career?
I have travelled the world and made many friends, even outside the sport.
On a result thing
it might be to have won more than 100 races and at least 1 stage in the Giro, Tour
each...As I never raced in Asia, I could not score a win on every continent...done’em
What personal - as compared to professional - accomplishment are you
People tell me I am a person who has not changed much at all. Not during my
and not after my life-threatening crash...I like this and take it as a big
What are the differences between Team Coast and Team Winfix?
Coast was big money (but still not enough…) and Winfix is a small team
which will improve
slowly over a few years' time. My workload at Coast, especially when the shit
broke loose, was
heaps more...sure the payment was better too, but I like life quality a lot!
What do you think of the support for young cyclists in Germany? How could it
be improved? Do
you personally know the riders on the Marcel Wüst Team? And will you maybe write
with more details about, for example, training, nutrition, medical help but also
There is always room for improvement. I think we are not really bad, but
not really good
either. More teams like my junior team could help a bit, but it is hard to
generate the money
you need to do this.
I know most of the riders, we don’t meet a lot of times, but at the local
races we chat and
sometimes I get asked a few questions how things were when I was their
age..usual stuff, with
fair dinkum answers.
Maybe I will write a book, but it is not a priority. Maybe about the way I used to
train, which was
not very scientific, but successful, there are some ideas in my head about
Not about the Festina scandal though, I like to remember the good things in
life, that is one of the reasons there is not a lot about it in "Sprinterjahre" either. Many
people told their
story, for me that's enough after 6 years have passed by.
Has the change from professional cyclist to management changed your views on
responsibility? As a rider, you are only responsible for yourself but in
management you are
responsible for other, mainly young people.
I think a pro's self-responsibility is important, but you also have a role
And not just someone in management is responsible for others. Although I'm not
management is the proper term for what I do. I try to work closely with athletes
audience to improve and explain things. The so-called "bureaucracy" is not my
You are involved in the "Go Ahead" project. How do you respond to the
critics, who cast doubts
on the efficacy of bike helmets?
The helmet critics can introduce as many calculations as they want, the
fact is: helmets
save lives and you are better off in a crash with a helmet than without one. And
as an adult
you have a responsibility in this area as a role model, for children and also
for those who are
still too ignorant to wear a helmet.
How have your eating habits changed since you are no longer a pro cyclist?
I don't eat quite as much, but then again, you don't put as much gas in
your car when you drive
fewer kilometers. It is a logical consequence that you eat less, otherwise you'd
blow up like a
balloon. The truth is that I don't feel like like I'm missing out on anything,
your body gets
used to it. When I'm full I stop eating. It's just that a lot of people can't
difference between real hunger and simple appetite for the delicious food. That
is the big
problem. I still eat basically the same things, there's not much better than
pasta with olive
oil and fresh parmesan cheese.
Form test: How good are you now? How many km do you ride each year?
When my form as a pro was 100, then I'm probably at about a 40 now. I
improve myself to a 60 in 2 to 3 months, but it would be difficult. I'm a
athlete now, and do it because it's fun and it makes me feel better. My 40 on
the cycling form
scale is about the same as 90 or 100 on the amateur cyclist scale - nobody has
to wait for me.
It's usually the other way.
When are you going to participate in your first Ironman?
I have said never, but you should never say never. Maybe some day a big
trip with friends
to Brazil or New Zealand or the US and make a fun-travel-sporting event out of
certainly not before I turn 40.
When are you planning to move to Australia? It seems to me that I have read
you over the years saying you definitely would and definitely would not be
moving to Australia.
But your son will have to start school soon, and it will be time for a
We have the plans to be living permanently in Oz some day. Alexander
starts school in
Germany this summer, and as long as my jobs are here we will not leave without
thinking it over
enough times to be really sure. There is no answer to when, but sure enough
there is the answer
that yes, we will.
To be a top notch road sprinter, how much of your training is spent on
sprinting drills or
About every second week I did 2-3 times a week a specific sprint training,
with a series of
sprints, with a certain numbers of repeats. They were very short sessions (2 hrs
max.) but hard on
the system - and it worked!
Do you do speed work after a hard road session to simulate coming in after
200kms and having to
drive home the last 300 meters?
No, a hard road session is a hard road session, speed work is speed work.
Sure, in a 6 hour ride there was a 30-40 second sprint in at every half hour,
but usually I did not mix different types of training too much.
Does winning races in the sprint have more to do with conditioning or more
to do with knowing sprinting strategy and your opponents and taking advantage of
Both are important. If you are strong, the chance of winning is big, but a
smart guy could beat you. No legs usually means no win, so condition is the most
important factor...both are perfect. The good thing about experience is, it can
only get bigger (and better), form does come and go.
Was there a favorite victory in a sprint that you look back at now that gives
you deep personal
satisfaction in pulling it out of the bag at the finish?
There are actually 3. Winning my first pro race for my new team when I was neopro (5.2.1989
in Perpignan) because I showed everyone right away that I can do it.
The win in the Vuelta '95 at La Coruna, because it was my first in a big tour
and Zanini and
Jalabert as 2nd and 3rd were almost 10 metres behind, and the 5th stage of the
because that was the little kid's dream coming true.
Who did you consider your best friend in the peloton? Jörg Jaksche once said
in an interview
that it was impossible to have close friends in the peloton, because there was
feeling of competition. Do you agree? Are you still personally in touch with
Lives develop and friendships do too. Roommate Fabian Jeker is someone I
am still in touch
with, so are others like Robbie McEwen or Joseba Beloki. But as we don’t see
each other that
much anymore, it is different. You can have friends even if you race against
them, just get over
the competition when you have no numbers pinned on.
Out of all the bikes you have sitting waiting to be ridden at home - which is
the all time
Probably at the time (1992) the TVT carbon frame with RMO was great, but
there are a lot of
changes still happening. My 2001 Festina (the last ever!) is the only pro bike I
still have. It
is a custom built aluminium frame, stiff, light and with great handling...I will
Which race was your obsession for the victory, eg. World Championship, or a
WC or the Vuelta
stage victory which you repeated and repeated?
Every race where I had a chance of winning was the most important race.
Sure, some might be
more important than others, but basically, once you hit the finishing straight,
you wanna win,
no matter how small the race is.
What is the most important thing for a sprinter: agility, muscle in the legs,
brain or...? Are
sprinters "born" or "made"?
Sprinters are first born, because the genetics tell you if you can sprint
or not. But then,
they are made as well. Discover that you are a sprinter genetically, and train
you will be better than someone who always tries to improve in his weak points.
He will be
average, or a bit better everywhere...a specifically trained sprinter might be
but world class in what he is born for...sprinting.
If your son Alexander says he wants to be a professional cyclist, would you
oppose the idea,
saying it is dangerous, or would you support him? What does your wife say about
it? How would
you talk to him about the doping question?
He would get all my support, the same goes for my wife. Sports: any sport
gives kids some
direction, something to look forward to, and help them to work on their focus.
Better to go
training with your mates and come home tired, than run around in the streets,
get drunk and
kick over the rubbish bins.
As I know that you can be in the best of the world without taking prohibited
would be an open talk about the existing problem. But doping does not make you a
loser if you
don’t do it...this is the most important fact.
Which jersey did you enjoy most, le maillot a pois (the best climber’s
jersey) you obtained
the Tour 2000, or el maillot oro of the '99 Vuelta?
The climber's jersey is more “special” because it's not a typical thing for
a sprinter to
wear. The ora was kind of logical, but still as appreciated.
Wüst in the polka dot jersey at the 2000 Tour de France. Photo ©
H. A. ROTH-FOTO, courtesy Marcel Wüst.
I really enjoyed and loved your race diary during the Vuelta 98/99 and during
the Tour 2000. I
miss it very much. Is there any web site where we can see and read your recent
At http://www.marcelwuest.com but not in
And...tell me your No. 1 “pestoso” of the year!!! (I was a big fan of your
“pestoso of the day.” )
It’s hard to say, now that I am not part of the peloton anymore. Usually you
need to be
there to know it all...maybe Verbruggen and the UCI trying to do the
restructuring of cycling
all at once, but it is hard to tell now, really.
Team Coast seemed to put you in the difficult position of being a spokesman
for a very
disappointing sponsor. Has this hurt your relationship with any of the riders?
Not really in the long term. But when the going was tough, all I tried to
do was find a
solution so the team could go on. Speaking all the languages, I was the one who
had to tell all
the news..and there was no good news really...so I was probably not the most
around. I can even see some positive things about the sponsor. He had the heart,
the will and
the dedication to give it all, even his private money...unluckily, it was not
Who was your most feared competitor and why? Which race did you most enjoy
riding? Was it hard
giving up racing after the accident? What was your favorite bike? Which up and
riders do you consider most talented? Which team would you want to ride for now
if you were
There was no fear, just respect. When Cipo was there it was so much harder
to win, because
he had the whole team working for him...all the times - I was a bit jealous,
I loved the Vuelta, because it was a big race but it felt like a small race
sometimes. Good roads and hotels...no more to ask for.
It was hard, but I had to, so I accepted it as complete and quickly as I could, so my life could go on.
My 2001 Specialized is still the
and Fothen are big talents, maybe Kessler is in for a classic win this year.
Balears. Because they are very professionally structured, but have the “laid
backness” of a
Spanish team. I started my career with Jacques Michaud at RMO and I finished
Fernandez at Festina...they are both at Phonak right now...nice thought as
Wüst as a junior at Hannover, 1986. Photo ©
H. A. ROTH-FOTO, courtesy Marcel Wüst.
You are press spokesman for Team Winfix, but we haven't heard a lot from you
in that capacity.
Is it a real job, or more of "you lend them your name and they give you a check
for it." Will
you be at the
team presentation? When will you be back in Germany?
It is a real job. I presented the team launch last year, did almost all
the press releases,
did long interviews with journalists and attended meetings with potential
partners. Sure I will
be at the presentation and I am in Germany now...arrived early January...
Thanks very much, Marcel!
Read a review of Marcel's book, Sprinterjahre, Glanz und Schatten einer
Radsportkarriere (Sprinter Years: The Glory and Shadows of a Cycling Career)