By Philip Gale
PEZ: How has the off season been for you and are you back riding yet?
The off season has been good, it’s been my busiest year on a bike and to be perfectly honest I really needed the break. I took longer off the bike than I ever have before, but I started training properly on November 1st and I’m already feeling fairly good, up on this time last year at least.
PEZ: 2010 was another step up for you, the Giro and Tour in one year. Are you happy with how things went?
Yeah, really happy. I’ve always said that I never expected to ride the Tour, it was always a dream of mine, but to actually experience it was fantastic. I perhaps could have gone into it a bit fresher, I’d done the Dauphine straight after the Giro and that was after the spring classics, but I still rode well in the service of Thor and Carlos throughout the 3 weeks.
PEZ: What are the most outstanding memories that you will take from both grand tours, either good or bad?
I will always remember the last road stage of the Giro. It had already been a really gruelling three weeks, but that day took the piss! It had over 6000m of climbing including the Stelvio and Gavia, and to make matters worse, we had missed the early break and so had to chase for the only flat 20km of the stage, so we reached the first mountain having already gone flat out, which made the rest of the stage seem even longer!
The Tour was unforgettable from start to finish, but the stages that stand out were the first road stage, which ran from Holland through to Belgium, and the last stage on the Champs Elysees. That first stage was just crazy, the spectators on the road were like nothing I’ve ever experienced, you couldn’t hear anything – it was at that point that the fact I was doing the biggest race in the world suddently felt real. The last stage was the culmination of the dream I guess, you see those guys year in, year out, finishing up the Champs Elysees, and there I was, part of the whole thing, with my family there to greet me at the finish.
PEZ: How did you cope with the roller coaster ride at the end of the season, Cervelo folding and then signing with Garmin?
The news about Cervelo was a big shock to everyone, but I was one of the lucky ones, being taken over to the Garmin team, and I found that out within hours of the bad news, so I wasn’t in limbo for long. Once it had all started to sink in about the whole Garmin thing, it gave me a whole new motivation. I now need to prove myself to new directors and management, and with the strength in depth of the team, I’m going to have to reach new heights with my form if I want to be selected for the biggest races.
PEZ: No worlds for you this year due to the smaller GB squad, did you watch the race and your team mate’s victory?
Yeah I certainly did, that was fantastic. I’m not someone often full of adrenaline, but watching Thor put his arms up got me off the sofa and shouting, it was a special moment! The press have said since that he came from nowhere, and hadn’t been seen all day, but as a team mate I was obviously looking out for him, and I could see that he had been hovering near the front a lot, and always in the top 20 over the climbs, so when it came down to a sprint, I knew he was going to take some beating, particularly as it was an uphill drag to the finish and coming after 260km.
PEZ: Garmin Cervelo, the new super team, how are the feelings about changing teams and set up?
I’m really looking forward to it, a change is always good for motivation, and I know that Garmin are one of the best organised teams in the worlds with a great atmosphere between the riders. We are taking over a core group who also get along great, so it should be a fun year with plenty of wins along the way.
PEZ: Do you see your position in the team as the same as Cervelo?
Yeah, my position during my career will always be the same, I’m a helper to the people who can win the biggest races. I’m never going to win Flanders or San Remo, but I certainly think I can be in at the kill and help a team mate that can. That’s what I feel I am paid to do and I really enjoy doing it. We haven’t met up together yet to discuss things, but I’m sure that is what they will be looking for from me.
PEZ: 2011 is another progression for you, moving up to a full Pro tour outfit, what aims do you have for next year, races and targets?
My first big aims are the spring classics, San Remo through to Flanders. That said, there are about 12 or 13 world class riders on the team who have the same objectives, so I know that I will need to prove myself from the start if I want to ride those races. That’s what I’m working towards from now and those are the races I’ll be thinking about when I’m training this winter. Beyond that, I would prefer to skip the Giro next year, take a break after the classics and the build up through May and June, but I won’t find out exactly what my program is going to be until a later date.
PEZ: Year on year, you progress as a rider, what is you secret to this?
I put a lot of it down to my training with a power meter, I have been using one for 7 years now and have all that data to look back on. I tend to find my biggest gains come through the winter when I have a big chunk of time to set aside and be consistent in my training, so I always start with the aim of making gains there, and being better than I was the previous year when I started racing.
When I started training a couple of weeks ago, I was almost immediately better than any previous year, even though I took a longer break, I think that is probably down to having two grand tours in my legs, and now my body has absorbed that work load and got stronger.
PEZ: Finally, you still take the time to come out on the club and group rides that you did when you were an amateur, does it feel weird to come back to where it all began for you?
Not really, a lot of the faces are the same and I really enjoy those group rides. The rest of the week I am normally training alone and doing something specific, but that day I can just go out and enjoy it – there are normally some hard parts anyway.
Cold and wet from the 60 mile circuit we head back to the HQ for a cup of coffee to warm up. On Dan’s current form I think that 2011 is going to be a year to watch out for him. Thanks again to Dan for taking the time to catch up with us, and we wish him all the best this winter.