In an almost cruel twist of bike racing photography luck, our trusted photographer, Cor Vos, seems to have missed out on shots of the Man of the Day, Tom Zirbel. We’ll have to settle for some shots from the Tour of California for this one. It just goes to show how recessed the American bike racing world is. As followers of the American domestic scene, everyone knows that Zirbel was a solid bet for the Top 10 today…not so outside of North America. Zirbel started the time trial today as a veritable unknown. It would only take about an hour before his name would be on the tips of a lot of tongues.
PEZ: This is your first trip to Worlds – a huge accomplishment by itself. How are you feeling?
Tom Zirbel: I feel pretty good. Getting over the time change and back to normal after a couple of semi-zombie days. It’s been a long season though…
PEZ: What are your goals for the time trial?
Tom: Not sure what to expect with this being my first Worlds. I’m happy to be here for one. But I’d say I’d be a little disappointed if I weren’t in the Top 10 at the end of the day.
PEZ: You’ll be happy with your time trial, if…
Tom: I corner well and give my best effort without going out too slow or too fast.
PEZ: You just finished an amazing season. Tell me about it. Did you do anything differently?
Tom: Thanks. It was a big step for me mentally as a bike racer. I started seeing myself as a race winner and leader though that’s still a long process for me. It just helped having another year of experience under me. I’m also starting to pay attention to the little things more.
This great season of 2009 for Tom Zirbel was truly an impressive one, and a season that showed the fruits of consistent improvement from year to year. Tom finished the year-long National Racing Calendar series of racing (the top races in America) as #1. It was a testament to his consistent, great riding from February to September. He came into his own as a time triallist and a bike racer, but as he so painfully points out, came up just a wee bit short on a number of occasions this year. The end result was great, but along the way, Tom found himself just off the top step on a number of occasions.
PEZ: Do you have any regrets about your 2009 season?
Tom: Yeah, this sport is so full of ups and downs. It just seemed like my season was very extreme on both ends this year(especially on the low end). It’s important to keep perspective but it’s easier said than done when you’ve just lost a bike race that should have been in the bag.
PEZ: You’re making the jump to Garmin next year – excited? How did that come about?
Tom: I’m excited and nervous for the challenge. We started talking after the Tour of California. I think it’s because Magnus retired and they needed a token big guy.
PEZ: What are your goals for 2010?
Tom: Survive! I want to help the team as a domestique (something that I’ve never really been) and get as much experience as I can handle…and maybe pull off a couple of TT results as well.
PEZ: Will you be moving to Europe?
Tom: Yes, not sure where yet.
PEZ: Do you expect your training to change?
Tom: Yep. The races are longer in Europe so my training will change accordingly.
And then to finish off the interview, Tom concluded with:
“Sorry answers are short but I gotta go do a bike race soon!”
That’s a pretty fair excuse, no? I can’t wait to talk to Tom a little more when things settle down.
Check out Tom’s blog right…HERE.
Thanks to Frank Overton of FasCatCoaching for putting me in touch with Tom.