Exclusive Interview: Bradley McGee
PCN. We saw your great victory at the Tour and a good performance in general. What type of training program have you done as preparation for the Tour de France?
BM – My training programs are devised between the FDJEUX team trainer, Fred Grappe, and myself. We have found a fine mix between specific scientific based methods along with the traditional style of old school training seen in the pro peleton. I knew I had great form going into the tour but was still very surprised, and happy, to have performed so well.
PCN. You seem to really enjoy le Tour – which of the big tours is your favorite?
BM – Obviously this year’s Tour due to my winning a stage but also because I feel I was making a real impact on certain stages. As a pro cyclist I never want to be just another number in the bunch.
PCN. How did you get started in bicycle racing and what motivated you to become a professional bike racer?
BM – I followed my 3 elder brothers into the sport at age ten or eleven after playing soccer for many years. It was not until I was 21 years old that I really considered becoming a pro.
PCN – Would you ever consider marrying a female cycling racer?
BM – I am very happily married. Sharni is not a bike rider but enjoys the sport but often we find ourselves talking about everything BUT cycling. I have no theories towards a successful relationship. I am just forever happy to be living a wonderful life with my wife and daughter. Some things just need not be analysed.
PCN – . What do you learn as a professional racer that is valuable in other areas of your life?
BM – Mental toughness, patience and the ability to rise up for special occasions.
PCN – If you were not a racer, what do you think you would be doing?
BM – I am already well on the way to beginning my own importation business plus I enjoy working in Media.
PCN – Before a race do you follow any specific routine or ritual for good luck?
BM – Before any pursuit on the track I have a routine I play out every time. Walking to the bike mounted in the starting blocks I will stretch down and slide my hand along the boards – feeling the timber. I then rise and crack my fingers backwards. I mount the bike and lock in. At 20secs to go my head will rise and the entire world becomes the 16laps in front of me. I also never race track events with socks over my ankles – over shoes are ok but never long socks!
PCN – Cycling is gaining in popularity in North America, what do you think can be done to make it even more popular here and around the world?
BM – In my experience, once somebody has witnessed a worthy cycling event they are attracted for life. The flash of colour and speed makes a real impact on any first time spectator. Therefore I say it is a must to move cycling events to places where crowds will be or will come to. This is why cycling is so huge in France as the Tour de France, for 100years, has gone TO the people. Every French cycling fan could tell you when and where they first seen the Tour de France. I know I can.
PCN – Have you visited North America”
BM – Yes. I have raced in British Columbia, Atlanta, and trained many kilometres up in Colorado Springs. Everything is BIG in America. Even coming from Australia I can never get over the grandness of it all.
PCN – What advice would you give to a young rider looking to be successful in the pro peloton?
BM – Be patient. Our bodies will respond with time but if you push it to far to fast then a long and healthy career in the pro’s is impossible. Being a pro is about squeezing the most out of your abilities. Listen to your body and learn how to read it. Apart from the physical aspect there is also the need to be ready for big culture and language changes (unless you are lucky enough to have a pro team in your own country). After my first 6months as a pro in France I was in the worst shape of my life. After some patience and willing to learn and adapt things started to improve and I now enjoy the fruits of two countries.
PCN – What’s your opinion about the last doping problems at Giro 2002? What’s the right way for resolve the doping problems?
BM- Harsher bans and fines plus loss of UCI points for offenders (for both the individual and the team involved). More involvement of the police – Too many riders are willing to take the risk because they have no where else to go but with the threat of jail time over their heads then these cheating bastards will think a little harder before they load their bodies up with performance enhancing drugs.
Also the cycling fans have to wake up. It makes me sick to hear the cheers of support for known drug cheats fresh off their suspension. Wake up people – the only reason you think they are champions is because they have been cheating!
PCN – All this story about doping has any effect on a pro cyclist? What does a professional cyclist feel when he is called “drugged”? Has it happened to you?
BM – I have been through a stage where I was ashamed to announce my ‘metier’ my profession. You can see the reaction in peoples eyes and the immediate question raised – you must be on drugs. I am over this now. I have no need to feel guilty and can only be proud of myself. As long as my loved ones know, I do not give a shit what other people think but in the same breath I do not blame people for thinking all cyclists are drugged. It is a strange situation but one I am coming to handle better and better.
PCN – In your team there are a lot of Australian riders, as Cooke and Wilson. What about them and about the Australian movement?
BM – I love it – the more Aussies the better. I dream of a full scale Aussie team one day. For now I am more than happy with the set up at FDJEUX.COM as they are really supportive of us. At the same time I respect the fact that the team is French and ask the new guys to try as hard as I have to learn the language and respect and enjoy the French culture. Australia has had the hand brake taken off after a few too many years under the Walsh influence. Also, just seeing another Aussie winning races motivates you to do the same and this creates a snow ball effect. Believe me…you ain’t seen nothing yet!
PCN – What about Cipollini and his victory at last World Championship?
How was your race and the Australia’s team?
BM – We rode the perfect race – So did the Ity’s. The stronger man won on the day. I take my hat off to Cipo after having the balls to tell the world exactly how it was going to be….and then did it. For us, I think we have just realised our full potential as a nation and will truly lift our performances in years to come. The few days spent on the Aussie team have been a blast.
PCN – Last year Montgomery, your ex team mate, left FDJ.com, and if I’m not wrong, you signed just for one year. Are you going to change team? Have you had any offers?
BM – No I have options to stay and am very pleased with the set up at fdjeux.com plus I am happy with the direction the team is taking. I would love to see Sven come back on board with us.
PCN – What did you learn by riding on the track that you used for the races on road? It’s ever more usual to see sprinters who train in winter in the track for the road season, is it important for a cyclist run on the track as training?
BM – I don’t know how it would go for others but I am sure I have gained a lot from my track days. An efficient power delivery, top end speed and a huge lactate tolerance – really nice stuff when you are hitting out with 800meters to go!
PCN – How will you prepare your next season? What will be your training this winter?
BM – I just keep active right up to Chistmas. In Australia my lifestyle is all outdoors so keeping in good shape is really easy. The programmed training starts later then most (mid to late December) but I am ‘unofficially’ training as soon as I return to Australia at seasons end. I jog, play golf, Mountain bike and water ski plus enjoy a good coffee shop ride during the quiet months. It is important to be able to keep the body active but have the mind switch off for a while.
PCN – Do you have a personal website that our readers could visit?