What's Cool In Road Cycling

MIKE & DEDE Part 2: The Pez-Interview

Back on the rebound: Part 2 of our PEZ-Clusive interview with US Postal’s Michael Barry and T-Mobile’s Dede Demet-Barry – a racing couple at the highest levels of cycling. Today we hear more on their romance, Lance, France, and a hopeful Greek victory dance.

PCN: Dede, you Sue Palmer & Lyne Bessette were the only North Americans in the top 20 in the Worlds and you all have international experience. What’s the main difference between North American and European racing?

DDB: The level is much higher in Europe and the pace of the races is faster. North American races generally tend to favor the sprinters more, whereas in Europe, the strongest women win.

PCN: What would you tell riders who want to make it to the top internationally?

DDB: Ride a lot of kilometers, try to race as much as possible, learn to win races in North America and then start racing in Europe as much as possible. It is helpful when you can get on a pro team and learn tactics.

PCN: You, Joane Somarriba and Nicole Cooke rode aggressively at the Worlds. Susanne Ljunskog won in a tactical outcome. What were your thoughts after the race?

DDB: Susanne did not put her wheel in the wind until the final sprint at the World Championships. She road a very smart, conservative race and she was fresh at the finish and won the sprint. She read the race entirely different than I did. I had thought that it would be much more selective earlier in the race. It is frustrating knowing that I
did too much too early and that those early efforts cost me the chance of fighting for the win in the final. I learned from my mistakes and I am sure that Cooke and Somarriba did as well.

MB: I watched the race on TV with my USPS teammate Matt White. We could both see that she was the strongest on the day but also saw she was doing too much work. We both knew she had the legs to win so we both sat there nervously in front of the TV waiting for outcome but also wishing we had a radio to tell her to ease up and get out of the
wind a bit. Johan Bruyneel actually sent me an email after the race with a note regarding Dede’s race- complimenting her on being the strongest, saying she could have been World Champion but she was beaten tactically. I think Dede has reflected a lot on the race and realizes that. Sometimes when you are flying and you want to win a race badly you forget to use you head and you race only with your heart.

Dede on the attack at 5+ watts/kg: guys – prepare to be humbled…

PCN: Of course your attack with Nicole Cooke late in the race could have been the winning move…

DDB: Perhaps, cycling is like a chess match, it is the combination of moves that wins the race.

(ed: along with an 11th place in the World’s Road Race and an 8th place in the Time Trial, Dede also completed her degree in international affairs. Look out in 2004 when she actually has time to train…).

PCN: Tell us about your program for 2004.

DDB: I am looking forward to doing many of the spring world cup races and a handful of stage races. I will spend much of this season in Europe, but will return to North America for some races in June (Montreal, Philadelphia, and Olympic Trials) and in September for the T-Mobile International.

PCN: You had the chance to preview the Olympic road course in Athens – what are your impressions of the course?

DDB: I went to Athens in August of last year and was impressed with the Road course. It is staged in the heart of the city of Athens and it travels past the Acropolis, the Temple of Zeus, some trendy restaurant and shopping districts and some governmental buildings. It is a beautiful course that will suite an all-around rider. It has a challenging, technical climb and descent and a flat finish. The time trial course is south of the city, it is rolling and travels out and back along the coast.

PCN: Tell us how the race might unfold.

DDB: My prediction is that the Olympic Road races will be won out of small breakaways.

MB: Big races are generally always raced aggressively in the final and the teams are small so the race will be difficult to control, which means it will favor a small breakaway.

PCN: You already have American and World championship gold medals – will you win an Olympic gold?

DDB: That is a dream, but first I have to make the team.

PCN: Sounds like a dream team to me – how will the U.S. selection be made?

DDB: There will be one rider automatically chosen who is the leader of the UCI points, another automatic selection will be the winner of the Olympic Trials and the third rider will be coaches selection I suppose.

PCN: Michael – Is that the same for the Canadian team?

MB: Not exactly as we will most likely not have a trials. The team will be made up of two coaches’ choice and an automatic spot will be given to the rider highest ranked on UCI points.

Ouch! Read about the crash in our 1st interview with Michael.

PCN: Lance says he will be spending more time in North America this spring – what about you?

MB: I hope that I can stay overseas for most of the year. Last spring I traveled back and forth quite a lot and by the time I got to Catalunya in June I was pretty worked over from the time changes.

PCN: Postal recently completed its first training camp. How does the team look?

MB: Well, I wasn’t there so I can’t say for sure but from everything I have heard the team looks good. I’m excited that we have another Canadian on the team – Ryder Hesjdahl – also a big talent that will be a great addition. The team is larger and is full of young motivated guys. It looks to be a good group of guys.

PCN: How inspirational is it riding with Lance?

MB: He is a great leader and motivator. He expects 100% from everybody and we all know it. But on the other side of the coin he is just one of the guys as well and fits in well with the group around the dinner table or in the bus. It is great to learn from him. He has a great work ethic and this rubs off on everyone on the team as well as the staff.

PCN: Has he talked at all about the tour?

MB: I can’t say we have chatted much about the Tour. But it seems he is eager to race for a few more years and is still incredibly passionate about riding his bike.

PCN: Do you think Roberto’s departure will hurt Lance’s chances in the Tour?

MB: Not really. Roberto may light the race up in the mountains a little more but he won’t really be a threat in the TT’s. We’ll miss Roberto in the mountains but I think Chechu and Triki will be able to step up and do a similar job.
DDB: I agree. Lance will still have a super team to support him and Roberto will have the chance to attain some of his own goals.

PCN: How do you think the Tour will unfold and what is your prediction for Paris?

DDB: I think Lance will have many challengers this year…Ullrich, Roberto, Tyler, Beloki, Vinokourov and I am sure there will be some others. If Lance is healthy and avoids crashing I think he will win again, as he is the most talented and has a strong constitution.
MB: Right on. When Lance is at his best nobody can beat him in either the TT’s or the mountains.

PCN: No arguments here…

PCN: How did you guys meet?

DDB: We met through our good friend, Clara Hughes, and Mirek Mazur (who coached all three of us at the time). We got to know each other in July 1997 when Michael came to Boulder to train. We spent quite a bit of time around the dining room table or in
cafes having interesting chats together. He eventually went back to France where he was racing that season and we kept in touch by phone and e-mail and our friendship grew in the following months.

PCN: Do you have a favorite place in France? MB: I would say Haute Savoie. I have had many good moments there, have a lot of good friends, the countryside (the Alps, the Lakes, the pastures…) is fantastic, the food is incredible…Annecy, just outside of Geneva is one of the most beautiful towns that I have visited.

DDB: France has so much to offer in terms of good food and beautiful countryside that it is hard to pick favorites. I have fond memories of my time with Michael and our good friends in Haute Savoie, where we have gone for many beautiful hikes and bike rides and picked mushrooms and blueberries and learned to cook the local cuisine. Paris is an incredible city where we have enjoyed touring the museums, shopping, tasting treats at the boulangeries and patisseries and eating nice dinners. I have really enjoyed the south of France-Provence, and Aude. I have raced in the South since my early years with the National Team. And, there is so much more, like the ancient castles and soothing beaches.

PCN: How much time are you apart during the season?

DDB: It depends on the season. While I was in school, we spent large chunks of time apart, but now it is usually only for a couple of weeks at a time. It works for us, as we both are happy doing what we are doing and feel fortunate for the opportunities we have.

PCN: How do you stay in touch?

DDB: We talk on the phone each day, sometimes several time a day….T-Mobile makes is easy for us, as we have international cell phone service and blackberries for e-mail. It is great. We are fortunate to have the support of T-Mobile and to be able to take advantage of modern telecommunications. This makes it seem like we are not so far apart.

PCN: Does T-Mobile pay the phone bills or do you use the postal service?

DDB: T-Mobile, but we do send the occasional care package to one another as well.

PCN: What are your favorite things to do together?

DDB: Hiking, cycling, exploring new places, skiing, and running. We both really enjoy cooking together and trying new foods.
MB: I have some great memories of riding in the mountains with Dede. I think we have had some really good talks, good moments on the bike together. Or simply in the outdoors. It is pretty nice that we are passionate about many of the same things.

PCN: Dede, now that Jan Ullrich is part of T-Mobile can you give PEZ Jan’s phone number?

DDB: I’ve never even met Jan so I am the wrong person to ask.

(ed: funny, we heard that Lance has his number…)

PCN: Eddy Merckx purportedly put porridge in his water bottle as a substitute for water. I have to ask – Michael do you think American beer is a good substitute for water?

MB: Maybe calorically but…let me try it out and get back to you…

PCN: What’s on the iPod?

DDB: Michael has filled mine up with a good mixture of music, everything from Carla Bruni to the Beatles, Neil Young, Jazz, Hip-hop, Rap, Classical and I think I will be getting a few Spanish CDS in there soon so I can brush up.
MB: Hmmm, I have a lot on the ipod but recently I have been listening to Buck 65, the New Deal, Leonard Cohen, Belle and Sebastian, Tupac, Ludacris, the Beatles, Pulp, Saint Etienne…we went to a Blackalicious concert the other night and I really enjoyed it.

PCN: Dede and Michael thanks so much for chatting – too bad we couldn’t invite all your fans. You live in America and race in Europe but we like to say you come home to Canada. On behalf of all your fans everywhere, good luck eh!!!

Read Part One – Double-Dip Interview: Michael Barry AND Dede Demet-Barry.

More Michael:

More Dede:

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