What's Cool In Road Cycling

Catching Up With Cervelo’s Dan Fleeman!

The first Cervelo Test Team ‘get together’ – and Pez had a man right there! Tour of the Pyrenees winner, Englishman Dan Fleeman took a break from battling with the cold and wet of England to spend a few days by the shores of Lake Maggiore in the lovely Swiss canton of Ticino.

PEZ: The first team meeting, Dan.
Dan: Yeah, it was in Locarno on the Swiss/Italian border, beside the Lake, in a really nice hotel.

Roger Hammond and I flew from Birmingham and were late arriving, it was around 11.00pm.

The team had all finished dinner and were in a large conference room talking – the mood was really good, laid back, relaxed.

In the morning we had our blood tests for the UCI then we had a day getting measured for our Castelli clothing and another day getting fitted for our bikes; plus there was a lot of paper work to complete.

In the afternoons we had talks with the sponsors, they told us about the products we’ll be using.

And we had a wine tasting – that was good; but we weren’t out on the bikes at all.

Dan Fleeman gives us a little view of the new Cervelo TestTeam kit.

PEZ: Big differences from AN Post, your last team?
Dan: There were 25 riders there and 35 staff, plus the sponsors, maybe 80 people, all told.

With AN Post there would have been a maximum of 18 people, it’s just on a different scale altogether.

PEZ: Is English the team language?
Dan: Yeah, everybody speaks English, including the six Spanish guys – Carlos’s English is actually very good.

PEZ: Was ‘bonding’ encouraged?
Dan: Apart from things like the wine tasting, some of the guys were going out for a drink together and not coming in ‘til four in the morning – but I don’t think it’ll be like that at the first serious training camp!

At meal times we were encouraged to sit beside staff and sponsors, not just have tables of riders all sitting together.

We needed a fun one of Mr. Fleeman.

PEZ: Management?
Dan: The guys who own Cervelo – Gerard Vroomen and Phil White were there; but the general manager is Thomas Campana, he’s the man who’ll be calling the shots.

Gerard and Phil will be too busy selling bikes to be in the team car every day!

There are three DS’s; Marcello Albasini, who’s the father of the Liquigas pro, Michael Albasini; Jean Paul van Poppel, who won nine stages in the Tour and Jens Zemke, who was a multi German champion.

Thomas seems really relaxed and laid back, but I get the feeling it would be ‘my way, or the highway,’ if you messed with him!

PEZ: Has a ‘title’ sponsor been found, yet?
Dan: Originally that was the plan, but the budget has been completed out of the trade sponsors.

The team has such a high profile and good riders that there’s been no problem getting the sponsorship.

I daresay if a ‘big name’ sponsor came along they wouldn’t turn them away, but all the funding is in place.

Carlos Sastre will be the undisputed leader of the squad for 2009.

PEZ: Did you get your bikes?
Dan: I got my training bike; it’s an S2, which is the development from the Soloist Carbon, but it’s even lighter and stronger now.

I thought we were going to be on SRAM, but it’ll be Dura Ace, the training bike is 2008 spec Shimano, but the race bikes will be 2009 spec with concealed cable routing.

PEZ: How’s Carlos?
Dan: Really good, he’s very friendly and laid back, I didn’t spend as much time with him as Dan Lloyd did, but he’s a really nice guy.

PEZ: Hushovd?
Dan: Friendly, but he seems like a quiet kind of guy.

Thor Hushovd will be gunning for another Maillot Vert in July.

PEZ: Did you get training advice or instruction?
Dan: Not really, Marcello Albasini is coaching some of the guys on the squad.

But I told them what I’m doing and that I’m coached by Hunter Allen; they know of him and when I told them what I’d been doing they were happy with it and content to let me carry on with my own programme.

Fleeman has steadily risen through the ranks and now sees himself on a Tour contending squad.

PEZ: Did you get your race programme?
Dan: Yes, and that’s one of the big difference between a team like DFL or AN Post and a set up like this.

No disrespect to my previous teams, but at DFL a lot of the time you wouldn’t know what races you were riding until five days before; I received a detailed programme for the next five months.

With smaller teams, that’s just the way it is, but the level of organisation here is just so much better.

I’m going to a friend’s house in Portugal to train until Xmas; then we have a training camp – also in Portugal – from the 12th to 26th of January. I get ten days at home; then I go to Langkawi. After that I have another ten days at home and then two one day races in Switzerland.

Then it’s Paris-Nice followed by 20 days rest because I have a heavy April and May with the GP Indurain, Tour of the Basque Country, Fleche-Wallonne, Romandie and then the Giro.

It’s the ideal programme for me – hilly races; they asked if I wanted to change anything and I said; “no, it’s perfect, the programme I would have picked myself!”

Will we be seeing Dan on a big podium in 2009?

PEZ: And how is your build up going?
Dan: I’m on target – this time last year I was maybe going too well. I want to go into Langkawi at 85% and come out at 95% but I want to be at 100% for Paris-Nice and the Giro.

I’ve been doing gym work and a lot of mountain bike riding because the roads have been icy. I’ve only done one four hour ride, mostly it’s been three hour rides but with 30 minute blocks at 90% effort – to improve endurance.

I don’t want to be doing full-on intervals at this time of year, but I use the long efforts at 23/24 mph to build my endurance.

You could go out and do six hours at 16 mph and you’d build endurance; but you’d also get cold, wet, tired and depressed in this weather!

With thanks to Dan for his insight; we’ll be talking to him again in January when he’s on the Portugal camp; there’ll no wine tasting and they most definitely will be out on those new Cervelos – and let’s hope the sun will be shining for him.

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