What's Cool In Road Cycling

Romandie’09: Inside With Dan Fleeman

The Tour of Romandie; and the Giro favourites tune-up ­­– Cervelo’s Dan Fleeman is right there, making the splits for Pez. We talked with Dan last night…

PEZ: Romandie’s parcours have been toned down a little this year, Dan?
Dan: It’s my first time of riding so I don’t have a comparison, but the stages are all quite short, including the prologue and TTT. I think the organiser’s aim was to encourage riders to use it as Giro preparation.

Dan Fleeman takes us inside once again!

PEZ: Who’s Cervelo’s leader?
Dan: No one is designated, we’ll sort it out on the road; we’ve got good morale, everyone is getting on really well together.

PEZ: Tell us about the prologue.
Dan: There was no way it was your typical drag strip test; it was only three kilometres but you had a one kilometre climb, a one kilometre descent then a flat last kilometre – it was all over in less than four minutes.

Rabon (Frantisek, Team Columbia & Czech Republic) winning was a bit of a surprise, but like I said it wasn’t your typical Cancellara fast prologue.

The trick was to hammer the climb; try and hold on to it and recover on the descent; then give it everything for the last K.

Rabon is a pretty handy time trialist.

PEZ: Did you get the chance to do much TT bike training over the winter?
Dan: I did in the winter of 07/08 but not last winter, with the team just being set up I didn’t have a TT bike at home to use, but I’ll be getting another one for taking home, soon – once I have it there, I’ll certainly use it at least once a week.

PEZ: Stage one was a little ‘different?’
Dan: Yeah, it was shortened by snow; a lot of the teams didn’t even leave their hotels in the morning. We did, and discovered at the start that the stage had been shortened by two climbs and the start postponed for three hours.

It was a case of finding a cafй and waiting; we had more to eat, just to keep us topped up.

Serrano (Ricardo, Fuji & Spain) winning wasn’t a surprise, he’s a good rider. It was only a two hour stage and when the three man break he was in went to seven minutes, I thought; ‘they’re not coming back!’

But the chase started and it was down to less than a minute – they pulled the cars out and it looked like it was all over; then with three or four K to go, the chasers realised that it wasn’t coming back, they eased up and the gap stretched a little, again.

PEZ: Oscar Freire was back on the cam in stage two.
Dan: It was the slowest sprint in the world – Freire (Rabobank & Spain) was the only sprinter left!

There were a lot of guys getting dropped on every climb, but it looks like no one wants to go too deep before the Giro and it’s tending to come back together over the tops and on the descents because it’s not being driven as hard as usual; I think that Freire is good at getting himself back on.

Oscarito is back!

PEZ: There was a big split on that stage.
Dan: There were splits both days; I finished in the front half both on stages but on the first day I had to jump across, it split on a cobbled climb and ended up in two groups of about 80.

I think that the guys who are riding it just as Giro prep aren’t digging themselves into a hole, so it’s not as hard as perhaps you’d expect.

Dan: It was quite a hard start, there was a five kilometre climb then it zig zagged across a plateau before a five kilometre descent to the finish.
Speed? I didn’t check – I was too busy just following the wheel!

We were on 44/53 x 11 – 23 and it was just about OK to ride the climb on the big ring, I did, but some of the guys were in the 44. We had four climbers and four strong TT guys, so the plan was for the climbers to take us up there, then the others would bring us home.

We were second fastest at the first check, just a second down but unfortunately we lost Dominique Rollin just before the top of the climb; he’s a big strong guy and would have done the business for us on the descent – it ended up we were left with too many skinny climbers! We were sixth but on the same second as Katyusha and Silence; we were happy with that. Columbia won but Garmin were well back, but it’s not their Giro TTT squad that’s here, they’re at a training camp in Girona, working towards the Giro team time trial.

PEZ: Have you done much specific TTT training?
Dan: We did at the training camps, but not with this specific squad of riders; at the camp were in different groups according to our programmes; we practised this morning before the race, though.

PEZ: The big stages next.
Dan: Yeah, tomorrow is 160 K with some big climbs; if there were only 55 riders in the group yesterday, I think we’ll see maybe 25/30 left tomorrow, if it’s hard.

Sunday, there’s a big climb but it’s 60 K before the end with a 30 K descent after it – that one could be a bunch sprint.

PEZ: You seem to be settling in nicely to Pro Tour racing, now.
Dan: To be honest, I don’t think my form here is any better than it was in Paris-Nice, but I’m healthy here, I had that chest infection at Paris-Nice and I wasn’t my self.

But I think you’re right, my system is adapting to this type of racing.

Remember this one from back during the Winter months? It seems like ages ago.

PEZ: Does everything go like clockwork, with it being Switzerland?
Dan: Yeah, but they can’t do anything about the snow! The roads are good, the organisation is good – it’s a nice race.

PEZ: I’ve got 100 euros to bet on the Romandie GC – who’s your tip?
Dan: Whoever it is, make it ‘each way’ – there are about 20 guys who can win!

PEZ: And – Rebellin?
Dan: I rode against him at the Fleche, which he won, I had a great deal of admiration for him, still winning big races in his late thirties – but this kind of takes the shine off it.

The news of Rebellin’s possible positive has hit hard.

PEZ: Do you think he’s the last of the ‘EPO generation?’
Dan: It’s tempting to think that, but look at Kohl, Ricco – you get idiots in all walks of life – and all ages!

With those sage words, we left Dan to his massage, but he’ll be talking to us again on Monday to give us the low down on the high mountain stages.

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