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Ireland’08: Fleeman Takes Us Inside!
The Vuelta may not have started yet, but over on the Emerald Isle, they’re hard at it! Dan Fleeman of An Post – M Donnely – Grant Thornton – Sean Kelly, is “oor maan” (as thay say in Ireland) in the bunch. Ed Hood had a talk with the young rider after 3 straight Cav wins and on the eve of one of the hardest stages.

PEZ: Three stages, three wins – is it as much of a “boring Cav-fest,” as it sounds, Dan?
Dan: Pretty much, Columbia having been riding steady on the front again, today – it’s not an exciting race.

Three stages, three wins for Cavendish.

PEZ: You had adventures on day one though?
Dan: It was easy enough all day but myself and Lloydy (team mate, Dan Lloyd) stoped for a pee one minute apart in the final 25km just as it was splitting. I rode straight past 40 guys who had been dropped and got back onto the bunch! It was funny seeing peoples faces as they are giving it 100% and I’m casually getting back after stopping!

Columbia has had the race well in hand so far.

PEZ: And war stories on stage two, also?
Dan: Yeah, there was a big pile up with one kilometre to go, I was lucky to stay upright, but I got blocked as did 50 other guys! I also crashed with 12km to go, about 20 were down but only two of us got back on. Apart from that excitement, an easy day again.

PEZ: Any ‘fun’ today?
Dan: Dan Lloyd and an Aussie were away, but Dan crashed on a bend. Cav came off on the same bend, I was baulked and ended up walking round the mess – the road surface was so slippy I could hardly walk, never mind ride. It split, but all came together for another bunch sprint.

PEZ: Dean Downing was saying that it’s been a dangerous race.
Dan: Yeah, we’ve been riding down a lot of roads more suitable for cyclo-cross. I’m sure there are good roads in Ireland, but we’ve not seen many! After the first two hours, a lot of guys have got sore hands because it’s been so nervous and they’re on the brakes all the time. When I came down yesterday, it was on a twisty turny road, I ran into a Tinkoff guy, but I was lucky, I landed on a grassy verge. There were 50 riders ended on the deck inside two to go yesterday, we all got the same time but there were only about 22 riders together at the death.

The views are gorgeous, but the roads…not so much.

PEZ: How’s team morale?
Dan: Good, there are 50 riders only separated by time bonuses, a lot of those guys are sprinters, so our hope is that they’ll crack tomorrow, when the climbing starts. Dan grabbed a three second time bonus today, so it’s conceivable he could get yellow tomorrow, if it’s a tough day. Me, Stevie Gallagher and Mark Cassidy are all in contention too, so we’re not complaining.

PEZ: When does it get hard?
Dan: Tomorrow, we go over the Connor Pass – that’s meant to be the hardest climb in Ireland. The bunch has been splitting on the climbs, but coming back together – hopefully that won’t happen tomorrow.

PEZ: How have you been spending your time at night?
Dan: We’ve not had that much time to play with; by the time you get massage, have dinner then the team meet, it’s getting on time-wise. Dan Lloyd brings his iPod dock, so we always have music. I might play a DVD – stuff that’s not difficult to watch.

PEZ: Who’s team joker?
Dan: Stevie Gallagher – he never shuts up! Tonite he’s had two pints of Guiness, so he’s even more hyper than usual!

PEZ: You’re a hi-tech, computer training man, aren’t you?
Dan: Yeah, but to be honest, there’s not a lot you can do in a race, I don’t look at read-outs from the SRM’s during a race. My coach has been analysing the data from the first three stages and he says that basically I’ve been doing recovery rides – there should be plenty left, when it gets hard.

PEZ: Cav – fastest man alive, or benefiting from the fact that there are no other ‘mega’ sprinters around?
Dan: I’m not the best guy to ask, I’m not a sprinter, but four Tour de France stage wins speaks for itself! Having said that, I understand what you mean – but the man can only beat the guys that are on the start line! To be honest, I think it’s easy pickings for him here.

Is the podium within reach for Fleeman or someone from his team?

PEZ: Your team game plan?
Dan: We have to be aggressive. Like I said, Dan grabbed that bonus and that could prove crucial. The folks that are ahead of him are mostly sprinters, so as long as it’s not another procession tomorrow and it’s tough on the climbs, it’s possible we could take the jersey.

Let’s hope so, interviews are always easier when your subject has won something !

Dan will give us the last word on Sunday, after the final stage.


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