PEZ: PureBlack Racing – tell us a little about it please, Tim.
Tim Gudsell: It’s a ‘Continental ‘professional team registered in New Zealand with a full New Zealand roster, but that will change over time.
The goal is to be Pro Tour within five years; two years Continental, two years Pro Continental and Pro Tour for 2015.
We’ll still be Continental next season but we hope to grow the budget, year on year.
The ‘PureBlack’ draws on the public’s association worldwide with the ‘All Blacks’ – as the national rugby team is known; and there’s been a big marketing campaign promoting new Zealand as a pure, clean, green place.
Our main backers are Sheppard Industries, the company behind Avanti bikes, they’ve committed for five years.
Atlantis Healthcare has also become involved as a major backer.
PEZ: Four seasons with F des J but no renewal for 2011.
TG: I had a string of injuries coming towards the end of my contract and I guess I didn’t have the results to encourage them to keep me.
Between 2009 and 2010 I had six broken bones – around July/August of last year I had it verbally that I was still on board for this year, but then I rode the Tour of Poland and broke my collar bone on stage one.
I always did what was asked of me for the team, and we parted on good terms, but being let go was probably the best thing that could have happened.
There’s an Aussie guy in Monaco called Leigh Ryan, he coaches the like of Simon Gerrans – he sat me down at the end of last year and gave me a reality check.
One of the things that he mentioned was that I needed a new environment to develop within – the Pro Tour again in 2011 would have been too much for me.
PEZ: You did the Giro in 2008, Vuelta in 2009 but no Grand Tour or Commonwealth games in 2010?
TG: At the start of last year I was coming back from sciatic nerve problems, neural injuries take a long time to heal – it’s not a like a broken bone where the break sets and you can get on with it.
The team wanted me to ride Paris-Roubaix, I was a bit hesitant but was doing the job until I was caught up in one of the usual crashes going in to Arrenberg – I broke my scaphoid and elbow and was in a cast for 10 weeks.
I came back at the Route du Sud but then rode nothing for five weeks; that was July – then raced again at the GP Wallonia where I went OK.
Then it was Poland and I was brought down after 50 K of stage one.
I only had 15/20 days of racing in 2010 – it’s really hard on the head, you have to devise techniques for keeping your mind right.
PEZ: No more team pursuiting?
TG: After the 2008 season I ended my involvement with the New Zealand track squad; it was too much trying to cope with the demands of the two workloads – whilst I loved riding for my country, it was a weight off my mind when I made that decision.
PEZ: Tell us about the ‘good times’ at F des J.
TG: Finishing my first Grand Tour was a great experience; it changes you as a rider, makes you re-assess what you’re capable of.
The day that Philippe Gilbert won Paris-Tours was a great experience, I was working for him all day; getting him bottles, taking him up through the bunch – that was pretty special.
And I made some great friendships with the team; Phil’s being particularly special – he still keeps in touch and when I got my first win in the US this year he was one of the first to text and congratulate me.
PEZ: It’s a pretty Cosmo programme with PureBlack – Beauce, Utah…
TG: For year one I think we’ve already exceeded our goals – when the team was put together it wasn’t just about riding skills, it was about personalities, building a good group of guys who’d put it in the line for each other.
As a result of that we’ve been getting the results, catching organisers’ eyes and getting the invites.
It’s hard to build a team from the ground up; when we started we didn’t have the budget for soigneurs and the like – and when we did we didn’t just take the first ones who came along, they had to be people who fit in.
PEZ: Do you miss living in France?
TG: My fiancйe Sarah and I are based in Boulder, Colorado now – there’s a big cycling community there; you could compare it to Girona in Spain where many of the Anglos live.
It’s at altitude, which is good if you’re riding races like Gila or Utah but if you’re coming back up from racing at sea level it can knock you around a bit.
But yes, we miss Europe, we were living near Menton, and when we flew out of Nice to come here it was a beautiful clear day, you could see the entire coast and it was a funny feeling to be leaving such an amazing place.
We have a good home in Boulder but the goal is to get back to Europe for 2013 – and we plan a six week block of racing in Europe in 2012, to give the guys a feel for it.
PEZ: And do you miss Pro Tour?
TG: Yeah, it’s about as close as you can get to being a rock star when you roll up at a race in the team bus.
You notice it especially at races like Paris-Roubaix with the crowds and the vibe of excitement in the air – cool, an incredible feeling.
I miss it, but I had to sit myself down at look at where I was at.
Pro Tour racing is so tough, I’d had so many injuries to bones and muscles that I was unbalanced and couldn’t go straight back in to performing at that level.
It couldn’t have worked out better for me, signing with PureBlack – the guy behind it is Carl Williams, he’s an Americas Cup and Olympic yachtsman; I knew him from the Olympics.
He started the team as an amateur venture and I’d said to him that I’d be happy to help – I had it in mind that I’d perhaps ride for the team in two or three years time, but here I am!
PEZ: 2011 has been good for you and PureBlack.
TG: Awesome, I’ve found myself again after two years of crashes and beatings – racing Pro Tour in Europe can knock the tenacity out of you; I’d forgotten about winning.
But this year I’ve started to get back that hard edge that you need – to be cold, calculating.
In the early part of the year our young riders were right into it; it took me longer to find my legs – but when I won the Tour of Somerville, that was fabulous, it‘s a big race in the States and I won it on my own.
I’ve been riding well in prologues too – the whole team has been going well.
And it’s a team where everyone gets their chance, you have to bust your ass for the team a lot of the time – but your chance will come.
PEZ: What are you looking for from Utah?
TG: Utah is a little different from most US races for us because of the quality of field, there are five Pro Tour teams taking part – and it’s our big chance to show on a stage at this level.
We’ll be out to show that we’re an aggressive team and we’ll be going with the breaks – Glenn Chadwick is in good shape and has a chance of a GC placing if things go our way.
I’ve lived in Boulder all season so hopefully I’ll have good adaption to racing at that altitude.
PEZ: Will we see you at the Worlds?
TG: I’m not sure, I’ve put my name down but, our PureBlack programme finishes with Utah so I’d have to get my racing with the NZ national team.
New Zealand only get three riders and the team is likely to be Julian Dean, Greg Henderson and Hayden Roulston – they all have good programmes leading into the Worlds; you have to ride the right races as part of your build up.
PEZ: What’s your unfinished business in the pro peloton?
TG: To win a European pro race and to ride the Tour – that’s my dream.
With thanks to Tim for his time and wishing him and PureBlack ‘all the best’ for Utah.
For more on Tim, head to his website: www.TimGudsell.com
For more info on Pure Black Racing head to their website: www.PureBlackRacing.com