PEZ: How did the rest day go, Dominique?
Dominique: I did an hour or so on the bike, just to get over the stiffness and cuts and bruises from the crash, yesterday [Dominique came down in the late, big pile up which felled half of the field.]
PEZ: How have you been, since last we spoke?
Dominique: Things turned bad for me after the Scheldeprijs, I caught a virus and had to take two months off, mid season; I came back in July and did Denmark and Limousin – and here I am!
A virus knocked Dom out for two months this season.
PEZ: What are the Cervelo goals for the race?
Dominique: Marchante or Phillip Deignan – he’s going very well just now – for a GC position; Ignatas Konovalovas for the time trial and Simon Gerrans hopefully to repeat his great stage win in the Giro.
Because we don’t have a Sastre or a Hushovd here, there’s no rider we’ll be focussing on 100%
PEZ: And your aims for the race?
Dominique: Mainly the bunch sprints, but I’ve run out of luck – two days ago I lost eight spokes in my wheel then yesterday I came down in the crash. There are two more days where I think I can do something in the sprints and then I’ll have to see how I’m climbing – there are some gnarly days coming up!
Rollin was up there today, he netted his first top 10 at a Grand Tour!
PEZ: Is this you first Vuelta?
Dominique: It’s my first Grand Tour; it’s going to be a great experience – my main goal is actually to get to the finish in Madrid in two-and-a-half weeks. I hope to learn more about my body by pushing it to new limits. Bearing in mind that he’s been a pro for a long time, it’s interesting that this is Roger Hammond’s first grand Tour, too.
PEZ: How was the prologue?
Dominique: I started when the rain had stopped but the roads were still wet and slippery; I couldn’t give it a full go. I was 29 seconds down on Cancellara – it would have been nice to see how I compared to him if I’d ridden on dry roads.
PEZ: Some tricky parcours, we’ve heard.
Dominique: The first day caught everybody surprise, I knew the parcours from the Ronde van Drenthe – there were some sketchy roads with lots of obstacles and turns; the rain made it even more dangerous and a few guys hit the deck.
The climbers avoid roads like these; the Classics guys know them and how to handle them, but not the GC guys.
It was very nervous; stop and go; changes in speed all the time – but good for testing your brakes!
PEZ: Holland – gimmick or good?
Dominique: It was good for the Vuelta and good for promoting the sport. It wasn’t so good for the teams with the big transfer; it’s not so good to have the rest day after just four stages and long air transfers after a long, hard, wet stage are never fun. So I suppose it had its ups and downs, but overall, it wasn’t that bad.
PEZ: Good crowds in Holland.
Dominique: From that perspective, yes, the whole trip in Netherland was epic, there were so many people packed beside the road; there were people everywhere – that was a great experience.
PEZ: How are the favourites looking?
Dominique: I never watch other riders – not the GC guys anyway, maybe the sprinters – I have to stay focussed on doing my own thing. The favourites all spent the last three days hiding at the back; you can avoid the fights for position back there, follow the tail.
PEZ: I notice your email provider is French.
Dominique: Yes, it’s my first language, I come from Quebec.
PEZ: Are the press back in Quebec taking an interest in you?
Dominique: I’ve been getting some good coverage, more since I started the Vuelta; they’re talking about it because I’m in it – it’s good for the sport. There’s a good youth programme back in Quebec – maybe that’s helped get UCI races in Montreal and Quebec for 2010.
PEZ: Do you get a chance to chat to the other Canadians in the peloton?
Dominique: Yeah there’s Ryder Hesjedal, Svein Tuft and Christian Meier – who was Canadian champion in 2008. It’s good on the long stages especially we catch up and have a chit chat. That’s four Canadians in the Vuelta; I think it says a lot about how the sport is getting better in our country.
PEZ: How was the transfer?
Dominique: It was a short flight – less than two hours; most of us wore compression socks for it, then we went for an easy spin today, I had a good massage after that, yeah, I feel OK.
PEZ: The transfer must have been tough for the team personnel.
Dominique: It was timed well, the truck left the night before – there are laws in France which govern how long you can drive a truck at a stretch – the bus left after the stage start and was waiting for us at the airport, here. The cars drove all day to get here – I think the team personnel will all be in bed by now!
PEZ: What couldn’t you be without on a stage race?
Dominique: I have my computer, so I can stay in touch by Skype; I’ve got a book to read, if I get a chance; I have my iPod for transfers and for getting in to my bubble before time trials.
Sometimes I watch Spanish TV but I don’t know many words – I try to hang out with the guys rather than be on my own and be lonely in the room. I have a room to myself just now, but we shuffle it, so as we share with different guys – but it’s quite cool to have a room to myself, tonight!
We’ll be talking to Dominique again as the race progresses; we wish him ‘bon chance’ for the start of the ‘real’ Vuelta.