Pinarello’s Russ Downing did it; holding off the might of the Pro Tour teams to gain sweet revenge for last year when he lost the jersey in the last kilometres of the final stage. Norway’s Lars Petter Nordhaug took the flowers for the final stage and Type 1’s Matt Wilson made the long trip across the Atlantic worthwhile in winning the King of the Mountains award.
But what about ‘our boy,’ Aldo Ilesic – we hear you ask? On Saturday evening, the game plan was for him to clock some breakaway kilometres before the finish in Cork and the horrors of three ascents of Saint Patrick’s hill.
PEZ: Did you get into a move, Aldo?
Aldo: No, I tried but from kilometres zero to kilometre 70 it was just crazy, I think maybe only 40 guys finished, there were guys climbing off every few kilometres. Unfortunately I didn’t make it as far as Saint Patrick’s Hill – there was no way; I need to ride in more races like this.
PEZ: But Matt retained the King of the Mountains?
Aldo: Yes, that’s one of the things we came for, so we’re pleased with that.
PEZ: Are management happy overall?
Aldo: Yes and no – even I expected more from me in this race, but I just didn’t have the distances in my legs.
PEZ: What did you think of the race organisation?
Aldo: Very good, I’m looking forward to coming back. It’s tough terrain though; it’s not a race where you could sit in, it’s a race where you have to be in good shape. Downing deserved to win, he was very strong – no one could drop him.
PEZ: Have you benefited from riding here?
Aldo: Yeah, the best I got out of it was that I see where I am; I’ll have to work totally differently next year if I’m to be competitive in races like this.
PEZ: What’s the travel plan for going home?
Aldo: We stay in Ireland tonight then fly home tomorrow.
PEZ: Where’s ‘home’ in the US?
Aldo: Charlotte, North Carolina, I have friends there and my manager lives there, with it being my first year, I wanted to be somewhere I knew people.
PEZ: What’s next?
Aldo: I don’t know yet, I don’t have the schedule, but more crits for sure; maybe, maybe the Tour of Missouri, but I don’t think so.
PEZ: Is Missouri a big priority got Type 1?
Aldo: Of course, yes it’s a big race in the US but I don’t think I have the form over distance for it.
PEZ: Is a Worlds ride on the cards for you?
Aldo: No, even on my best form I wouldn’t go – the circuit is super hilly, not my type of race.
PEZ: How are you enjoying the Orbea with the new Dura Ace?
Aldo: The Orbea is good, it handles well; but I think that the old Dura Ace worked better – but I’m sure it’ll be different next year.
PEZ: Do you go home to Slovenia for the winter?
Aldo: Yeah, I go home at the end of September, the big crits at Las Vegas will probably be my last races. Slovenia is snowy in the winter – I do a lot of hiking and cross country skiing, but like to spend some time in the sun too, I usually go to the coast for three weeks training on the bike.
PEZ: Are you happy with 2009?
Aldo: I had five wins, and I don’t know how many top threes; I accomplished a lot, so yes, I’m happy. I’m not so happy about my stage racing – I only rode three this year.
PEZ: Goals for 2010?
Aldo: I want to ride more stage races and I want to win a stage in each one I ride!
Let’s take a step back now to Stage 2…
Qatar, California, Italy, Switzerland, France and now – Ireland; Cav just keeps throwing those arms up in the air. Yesterday was his 21rst win of the year, so far. And Pinarello’s Russ Downing defies the big guns, again – keeping that leader’s jersey securely on his shoulders. Meanwhile, at the blunt end of the peloton, Aldo is being brutally reminded that great criterium form cuts no ice in the hills and glens.
PEZ: Did you sleep well?
Aldo: Yeah, I slept good; the hotels are OK, not super classy but OK, the food is very good, though.
PEZ: How does your system cope with all the travelling?
Aldo: For the first two months maybe, the time zone differences, planes and cars were a problem, but not now – it’s just part of the job. I relax during travelling time; it’s good to have time to be with your self.
PEZ: How did the stage go?
Aldo: The same thing as yesterday, the team’s other sprinter, Ken Hanson and I had problems with the distance, we’ve both won a lot of criteriums, but after 140/150 kilometres we struggle. After 180 K I felt strong again but it was too late by then, I was in the back. It’s too bad that we don’t have more races like this, I have the speed but not the endurance – but I’ve had it in the past, so it would come back if I was riding more events of this kind. I’ve been doing long training rides, but they’re just not the same.
PEZ: How are things for the team?
Aldo: Good – Matt Wilson held onto the mountains jersey; we’re happy with that.
PEZ: What do you think of Ireland?
Aldo: It’s nice and this is the second day in a row with good weather. But its forecast to rain tomorrow and it’ll super hard in the finale. I’m going to try and get in a break early tomorrow – I’ll be done by the finish anyway, so I’m as well to show myself early.
PEZ: Is it hard to get in an early break in this race?
Aldo: I don’t think it will be too difficult because the top guys know that the last 40 K are super hard; they’ll be happy to see it go. The two guys who got away today went at kilometre four and stayed away until the last K o M.
PEZ: Cavendish – 21 wins.
Aldo: It’s very good for him, good for his career but I have to look forward to getting my endurance back up and winning against guys like him.
PEZ: How have the crowds been?
Aldo: Very good, I’m impressed with the numbers and how passionate they are – Roche and Kelly made great cycling history and I think that the sport is on the way up again in Ireland.
PEZ: Is there a language, ‘Slovenian.’
Aldo: Oh yes! Janez Brajkovic (Astana) is in the race, we spoke yesterday and today – it’s good to speak your own language for a little.
PEZ: Your English is excellent.
Aldo: I’ve lived in the States but really I don’t have a problem with languages; when I was young we lived in Germany and I can speak that too.
PEZ: What’s typical Slovenian food?
Aldo: Lots of meat, potatoes in a lot of different ways – and we like our desserts, lots of sweet things and fruit.
PEZ: Did Type 1 bring their own soigneur and mechanic?
Aldo: Yeah, everybody is here, we have two soigneurs – we hired one over here for the race.
PEZ: What do you do in the evenings?
Aldo: After the stage I have a shower, then a nap for 30 minutes; I watch a movie before dinner then we have a team meet at 8:00 pm. Tonight I’m going to skip massage because I want to get extra sleep.
PEZ: Do you do all the ‘cyber stuff?’
Aldo: Yeah, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and I have my own website. It’s my agent, Daniel Bizzell who has organised all that stuff, this year; it’s maybe not caught on as much as we hoped, but next year should be fine. You have to move with the times, one day there will be no more newspapers; people expect you to communicate in these new ways.
PEZ: Will you be trying the Guinness?
Aldo: I’ve had two already! I had one after each stage, I’ve had it before, but they say that you must have one in Dublin to see how it really is!
With thanks to Aldo for his time and wishing all at Type 1 ‘all the best’ for the rest of 2009.