PEZ: What was the Garmin game plan, Steve?
Steve: We wanted to get riders in the early moves so that me and Tyler were fresh for the finalй. It was a calm day, the race is the last 20 K; so I fell asleep in the bunch until then. My job was to police the last 20 K, I went with a move but it came back and that was me finished, man.
PEZ: Was the team happy with how it finished?
Steve: Tyler Farrar won the field sprint and took fifth, so we couldn’t be unhappy. It’s been a long season and we were stretched pretty thin for Paris-Tours. Tyler’s ride is even better if you consider that there was no one to help him in the finalй.
Farrar started his season in spectacular fashion, and notched it even better when he won the field sprint in Tours.
PEZ: How about your own race?
Steve: Yeah, I was happy, it’s only the second time that I’ve raced over that distance. I kinda wish it was even longer; I get stronger as races go on. I liked the Worlds where lap after lap guys are gettin’ shredded. I like races like that, rather than where it’s easy then there are 20 hard minutes – I seem to lack that top end stuff, so I like it if it’s hard all the time.
PEZ: What did you think of your first Paris – Tours?
Steve: It was good man, the fans were out and it’s well organised – it’s been around for a hundred years, so they got it pretty well down. We were lucky with the weather and a lot of the course was very beautiful, with the leaves on the turn. Having said that, if it was windy and raining then it would be one brutal race.
I like that I’m still racing at this time of year, some of the guys started their winter break in mid-September and they’re just about to start training again – but I still have my three week break to look forward to.
PEZ: Were you in the inside ring, at all?
Steve: Yeah, I was in it a lot, to save my legs, once the break went I just watched what the older, more experienced pros did – they kept the gears low and ate a lot. I made a point of eating every 20 K or so, you have to over that distance.
PEZ: What gears were you riding on those long flat, fast straights?
Steve: I’m the opposite of a mechanic; I’m not into that stuff, but 53 x 16, I think – you’re trying to save your legs.
PEZ: How do you keep your concentration on a flat course like that?
Steve: I just go “into the zone,” some guys have iPods, but I don’t – I enjoyed the countryside, it was very beautiful and reminded me of back home.
PEZ: What does the rest of the season hold for you?
Steve: I’m riding the Tours of Piedmont and Lombardy. I’m looking forward to them, they’re cool races.
PEZ: When do you start for 2009?
Steve: Lombardy is the 18th and I fly home on the 20th for three weeks off. I’m looking forward to going shark fishing again in my little 10′ boat. I caught a nine footer the other week, but I don’t kill them, I catch and release.
Our first camp is in Boulder during the winter, but it doesn’t involve a lot of serious riding, it’s more to get to know each other and meet the sponsors. I start training three weeks after the 20th of October and we have a serious camp in January at Silver City, New Mexico. The start of the season Is hectic for the team, we have the Tour Down Under, The Tour of Qatar and The Tour of California. Down Under would be cool, but I’m Californian, so I’d like to ride my home Tour but it hasn’t been decided yet what I’m doing.
Cozza likes the cobbles.
PEZ: Goals for 2009?
Steve: I’d like to do Flanders and Roubaix, my classics campaign started well this year, but I crashed in De Panne and broke my collar bone. I made a few beginners mistakes in the likes of Het Volk and Kuurne but I’ll correct them next year – I like when the racing is hard. I had a big crash in Picardie, last year, I suffered concussion – the third one I’d suffered in a couple of months – and was out for three months. I’ve been a little scared in the bunch ever since, I get stressed and it’s only I’m my last four races that I’ve got my confidence back. It’s cool because I’ll be starting next season without that worry.
PEZ: Who’s your man of the year?
Steve: It would have to be Davie Zee or Danny Pate. Davie broke his back in the Giro but came back very strongly – it’s amazing he’s riding at all. Danny has always been a solid rider who’s never had the results in Europe, but this year he punched through – he rode, and did well in two Grand Tours. Virtually every rider in our team has had a good year – look at Christian Vandevelde; he’s another guy that proves the best riders just take bad luck in their stride.
Steve: In this life you gotta do what you wanna do!
Steve: Aaahh, it’s pretty crazy, if you wanna take drugs then join a rock band! The whole doping thing blows my mind, I think that only the guys who do it, understand it. In 40 years time, when I’m long retired, I wanna look back on my career with pride.
PEZ thinks that if he keeps progressing the way he has then that shouldn’t be a problem.
With thanks to Steve for his time – but be careful with those sharks, dude!