PezCycling News - What's Cool In Road Cycling : Interpro-Stradalli’s Daniel Whitehouse Gets PEZ’d!

Interviews
Interpro-Stradalli’s Daniel Whitehouse Gets PEZ’d!
Rider Interview: Next up on our series of 'Young Gun' riders is Daniel Whitehouse from England via New Zealand. Riding for the Interpro-Stadalli team and has been showing his undoubted talent in the Tour de Beauce in Canada and the Spanish Vuelta Castilla y Leon and Aragon. Ed Hood caught up with Daniel for a chat.

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‘Mondialisation’ – we don’t hear so much about it these days; we get two helpings of it with Down Under in Australia and San Juan in Argentina at the start of the year but then it all goes ‘Eurocentric’ for most of the rest of the year – with the odd dash across the Atlantic. But there’s a huge, healthy race programme taking place all year long in the Far East and South East Asia.

A man who knows more than most about these races is Kiwi Daniel Whitehouse who’s raced with distinction in Indonesia, The Philippines, Japan, China, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and Thailand.
And when he popped up to take second on final GC in Canada’s premier race, the tough Tour de Beauce we decided it was high times we, ‘had a word.’

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PEZ: The Tour de Beauce, you were second on GC Daniel, a nice result - any 'what ifs'?
Daniel Whitehouse:
Well, of course. Principally the Second and Third (a) Stages. I got proper cold for reasons that were beyond me on Stage Two and in the downpour my head unit departed this plane of existence. I didn't ride the climb well, my frustrations got the better of me and I was under the impression the climb progressed in a manner that was different from how it is. That's the biggest ‘what if.’ The Stage Three (a) TT went well enough but I was winding along the road like a snake, the bike set up I used had not been anticipating any kind of side wind, and I was really struggling to stay straight.
To really generate speed a rider needs to be stable on the bike, I was anything but. Of course the last stage, it was only 11 seconds deficit in the end and you are always going to wonder if you had ‘done this or done that’ how it would have gone? But I had a go, and considering the position I started Sunday in, it's easy enough to swallow finishing second this time around.

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PEZ: You started early this year - fifth in the Tour of Indonesia in January but you rode the Tour of Singkarak in Indonesia in November - not much of an 'off' season for you?
My season started in October, I had some time off in September as circumstances dictated that I wasn't going to be able to ride then. Fifth in Indonesia was a real disappointment. On the last day I was with the two guys that went on to be one-two on GC at the top of the 50km decent to the finish. My team car went up the road to my team mate, I flatted, got given the worst wheel I've ever seen, and was alone in no man's land between the four out front and what grew to be around 20 behind. I hung on, but that was the fourth time in the last three tours in Indonesia that I've punctured out of the winning move. Also, it's worth mentioning that I was seeing numbers I couldn't believe in January but when I arrived in Indonesia I felt well below myself, subsequently, the Sun Tour in Australia was well below what I expected it to be too. A couple weeks later, on Valentine's night no less and with my girl, I got to visit the Emergency Room and spend a week in hospital after my appendix ruptured. I’m pretty sure that was the cause for the rotten way I had been feeling.

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PEZ: You took the montagne jersey in Castilla y Leon in Spain, this spring - another nice result.
Yes, we expected the first stage to rip to tethers in the wind, so my manager said to me to see if I could be in the break to get ahead of the chaos. Racing in front is how it's done most of the time in those Asian UCi 2.2s, so I've grown accustomed to be overly keen to chop through and off. It certainly was a nice result, my first European Pro race. Could have gone worse.

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PEZ: And top 15 in Aragon with those Movistar boys there - can't have been an easy one?
Certainly wasn't easy, no. I’m used to doing racing where the GC boys need to be active all day. Whereas in Europe, the way it's raced is so clinical, it's a hard thing to get used to in a hurry. The racing is compartmentalised into such a distinctive effort, you make a little mistake, don't position well, relax for a moment and you end up giving away crucial seconds that knock you well back. Also, since the whole appendix ordeal I was bouncing around different locations and wasn't able to get a solid training/racing block to bring the form back to where it was in January. I certainly wasn't at my best, but there were definitely positives to take from that short stint of racing in Spain.

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PEZ: How did you get into cycling?
My high school Christchurch Boys, mandated two sports through school, one in the summer, one in the winter. Cycling was in the winter. My father suggested giving it a go, seeing as it would be good cross training for my football at the very least. I'm not playing football anymore.

PEZ: You've ridden the GB and New Zealand national champs, how come?
Oh Lord - this always comes up. I was born in Manchester, in the United Kingdom. My passport is British. My family moved to NZ in 1999 and I have permanent residence. Now, when I started cycling as a junior I registered with my club through Cycling New Zealand, I aged through and eventually on to an elite licence. No one at NZ Cycling batted an eyelid, they just assumed. So when I first went racing overseas I found out where I should actually be registered. They are a quite laid back lot in NZ.

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PEZ: You were a Rapha Condor man in GB for 2014 how did that ride come about?
The team manager, John Herety took the team over to New Zealand at the start of the year for the Cycle Classic. I did pretty well in my first UCI race and since all their boys kept falling off their bikes they brought me onboard a little early to plug a gap.

PEZ: 2015 and you moved to UKYO - bit of a leap, London to Nippon, tell us about that move.
A guy by the name of Danny Feng set me up with that. I’d got round the Tour of Japan the year before, an achievement for most in itself, and I believe they were interested because of that.

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PEZ: Then '16 and '17 with Terengganu, Malaysia, another interesting move.
Yes, that same guy Danny Feng was the manager at Terengganu. But yeah, I've ridden a bike in some bizarre places.

PEZ: Interpro-Stradalli is the team this year, back in Japan again.
That came about off the back of the Singkarak race. I kept my options open and had a few offers by the time the tour was done. Yeah, a little bit of a homecoming in a way.

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PEZ: You must like the Far Eastern scene - tell us why.
Not particularly. Being a cyclist coming out of New Zealand is tough. The track scene there pays, but no one is interested in supporting professional riders on the road. That sounds sour, but it's the truth.
The wealth of talent that NZ has at a junior level is unbelievable but the washout rate to u23 is unreal. Unless a development outfit takes you on and brings you through those years you can't fund yourself from NZ. I thought JLT would be that for me. It didn’t. And I had to go there because those were the offers I had. It's not somewhere you want to find yourself as a bike racer if you can help it. And I couldn't. It was tough. It changed me, and I learnt most lessons the hard way. I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone.

PEZ: You've had some strong results - like winning the 2016 Tour de Flores in Indonesia.
That was vindication.
For a long time I have known I'm a better bike rider than I am a bike racer. That was the first time I produced to my own expectations.

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PEZ: And you were fourth and best young rider in the Tour of Japan that year; with the Iranians there - they don't mess around, do they?
Mess around they don't, a lot of guys are afraid to race them. And because of that they aren't attacked and challenged. I'm not afraid. I revel in that, it's viciously hard, and all day getting ground down is my idea of a bike race. But for sure, they can shift.

PEZ: Last year was pretty good for you too; second in the Tour de Filipinas, sixth in Flores, second in Singkarak. . .
Yeah, well, at Filipinas I got worked over by my old Japanese team and lost the jersey on the last day, they didn't win it either. Flores I was viciously sick the first two days and lost something like 10 or 15 minutes by the time the second stage was over. The subsequent two stages I was second after flatting at eight K to go and two K to go, costing me both times. The fifth stage, the air stayed in the tyres and I got my stage win. Singkarak, I started to feel a little off on day six and by the time the eighth day hilltop rolled around I felt like I was going to cough my stomach up with the respiratory infection I had developed. I lost the jersey that day. Chaos reigns in those races, and I wouldn't count myself as modestly lucky when I'm racing. I tend to result to blunt force trauma to get things to work for me. And I'll settle for a go from any distance.

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PEZ: Do you have a coach - what's the training philosophy?
Benjamin Day; he's a proper good bloke. We've worked together more or less for the last three years. I'm a challenge. There’s no way around that, but he's more to me than just a coach, he’s picked me up and out of a few rough spots at times. The personal philosophy is that I’m not yet ready to win a grand tour, so I need to improve. I train every day like I'm going to do just that. That doesn't mean flogging myself every day. It means looking to improve myself in every avenue I can perceive. And to execute my time on the bike optimally, that means recovering properly too.

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PEZ: Where's 'home' - you lead a pretty cosmo life. . .
Christchurch, New Zealand. I’ve been to some wild places, it just makes me appreciate it more.

PEZ: What are the goals for 2018 - and longer term?
For starters I want to get back to where I was in January. I've seen glimpses of it only recently. Back at the turn of the year I was showing a great deal of promise. February robbed me of that and I've been fighting as best I can ever since, but it's frustrating, to put it politely. I was close before Beauce, but you know intrinsically when you're really on song. And I was still a bit out of balance. As far as race results go, that’s impossible to say, when the condition is honed the results show it when they're met with a fair share of luck. In the future, I need to improve as a bike racer. It's quite the culture shock racing in Europe and there's a technique to it I have yet to crack. However, I'm adamant I will.

# Life in the ‘real world’ of pro racing – we wish him well. #

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It was November 2005 when Ed Hood first penned a piece for PEZ, on US legend Mike Neel. Since then he's covered all of the Grand Tours and Monuments for PEZ and has an article count in excess of 1,600 in the archive. He was a Scottish champion cyclist himself - many years and kilograms ago - and still owns a Klein Attitude, Dura Ace carbon Giant and a Fixie. He and fellow Scot and PEZ contributor Martin Williamson run the Scottish site www.veloveritas.co.uk where more of his musings on our sport can be found.

 


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