What's Cool In Road Cycling

PEZ Talk: Alex Wetterhall’s Win At The Ras

During the Giro, there was great racing all over Europe, as we saw in France and Belgium. The Republic of Ireland had its own incredible race as well; their eight stage ‘Ras’ is notoriously hard to win. Last Sunday, the 2010 edition finally fell to Swedish Elite TT champion, Alex Wetterhall (Team Sprocket – Magnus Maximus Coffee.com). PEZ spoke to Alex, the day after his triumph.

PEZ: Congratulations on a great win, Alex – but it was touch and go, for a while?
On stage 5 a break went and I didn’t realise that there were danger men in it, my DS told me that perhaps we’d lost the jersey to Josef Kugler (Austria & Arbo KTM – Gebruder Weis) at the finish it was just eight seconds but they went my way.

PEZ: You built your win on a break in stage 1.
Yes, it was a strong group and we drove all the way to the finish, Dan Craven (Rapha & Namibia) won but that’s where I gained my time, initially.

PEZ: Stage two was neutralised?
There was a really bad crash on a descent when a vehicle got on to the parcours. There were some serious injuries so I think that neutralising the stage was the correct thing to do. I’d taken the King of the Mountains points on the stage and would have taken the climbing jersey – but then there was the crash . . .

PEZ: Stage 4 is where you grabbed the bull by the horns.
I was part of a four man break, then another 15 bridged up. I was the only rider there from the stage 1 break and I took my chance. My teammate John Anderson – we call him ‘Jack’ – rode for me but in the last kilometres it was me doing all the driving – we took 2:38 by the finish.

PEZ: The Ras has a reputation for being a bit crazy.
It’s like eight one day races, there are attacks from kilometre zero and each day is just one big fight. Every one wants a stage win, every one wants to attack – but that suits me, I’m an aggressive rider.

PEZ: Stage 7 was tough for you.
It was the most terrible time of my cycling career; the team rode very well for me at the start of the stage but in the last 30 kilometres I was on my own and there were attacks all the time – but by the finish I hadn’t lost any time.

PEZ: It must have helped that John Degenkolb’s (Germany & Germany Thuringer Energy) team was riding to set up the sprints for him?
Yes, he won two stages, he’s a smart guy, he and his team know how to get themselves in the breaks; and he can climb well, too.

PEZ: Who was your most stubborn opponent?
Degenkolb, Dan Craven from Rapha-Condor-Sharp; Simon Richardson from Sigma, but he missed the stage one break; the Motorpoint guys were good too – Peter Williams was second.

PEZ: What was your best win before this one?
I’m reigning Swedish Elite time trial champion. This is the biggest win for our team so far, the guys rode very well – it’s a strong squad and we had Martin McCrossan manage the team for the race.

PEZ: You were a mountain biker?
I started mountain biking when I was 11 and rode mostly off road for the next 11 years – I felt it was time for something new. Since I was 16 I’ve been out a couple of times each week on a road bike, so it’s not new to me – I’m enjoying it; I’m glad I made the change.

PEZ: Describe yourself as a rider.
I’m an all rounder, can do pretty much everything but sprint. I’m not a climber, but I can handle myself OK in the hills – and of course, I’m a strong time triallist.

PEZ: What’s the programme now?
We leave Dublin this afternoon to fly to Norway for the Ringereke 2.2 five day, in Norway; then we have a race in Denmark and then I hope to defend my Swedish title.

PEZ: And your ultimate goal in cycling?
I’d like to ride a Grand Tour, to see how I can handle it; I want to see how far I can go in cycle sport – show myself.

A win in the Ras isn’t a bad start to ‘showing himself’ we’d say – with thanks to Alex for his time and to Martin McCrossan for setting up our interview. #

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