What's Cool In Road Cycling

Magnus Maximus: The All-Rounder!

On the penultimate occasion we spoke to the Swedish road race champion, he had been playing the roll of ‘baroudeur’, as the French term the man who tries for the win the hard-way, from the all-day breakaway; the last time we spoke, he was a ‘chrono-man’, rolling 55 x 11 across the plains; now he’s a ‘sprinteur’ with three top drawer finishes, right-up there with Zabel, Petacchi, Bennati and all the other guys with the fast-twitch muscles.

PEZ: Baroudeur, chrono-man and now sprinteur!

Magnus: Yeah, now I just need to try the climbing thing – but I don’t think so! Seriously, it’s going above all expectation for me in the sprints, even although they have been sprints that really suit me – straight in at very high speed and you don’t have to accelerate from just a high speed. I’m pleased because I’ve also been doing a lot of work for Manuel Beltran during the stages; today I did around 150 k-worth of work on his behalf.

Maggy scored 8th on today’s 13th stage.

PEZ: Stage 11, you were 15th, I noticed that you team mate Vanotti was 10th, was that significant.

Magnus: I was on Bennati’s wheel coming into the second last corner with around 800 to go, when someone pushed Vanotti forward from behind, he cut-across Bennati and I curtailing our sprint, so it didn’t work-out the way I wanted.

PEZ: Stage 12, you were sixth, pro wisdom is that if you can get sixth, then you can get the win, isn’t it?

Magnus: Yeah, I didn’t quite get the position I wanted and had to start my effort from 15th or even further back, I was coming back at them at the line. These are the first sprints I’ve contested this year and I’ve just not been getting my positioning right.

The rain did fall in Spain on stage 13.

PEZ: Stage 13, you were eighth, but fifth in the gallop because there was a three man break up the road.

Magnus: As I said, I did a lot of work for Manuel today, around 150 K in the wind; it was a wet and dangerous day, so my edge was gone for the sprint.

PEZ: With your style of sprinting, surely you would benefit from a ‘train’.

Magnus: Definitely, as I was saying, I go best coming from a situation where the speed is already high. I reckon I’m faster than most guys in the peloton over a distance of 500 metres. If I had a train to deliver me to where I wanted to be, then my chances would be so much better.

PEZ: You guys spin those pedals in the finishing straight, what gears are you on?

Magnus: In all three sprints, I’ve been in 53 x 11, I could have done with 54 x 11 the other day, though. I topped-out at 80 kph yesterday, I’ve been in faster ones, but it’s usually 65 to 70 kph.

PEZ: Positioning is crucial, isn’t it?

Magnus: That’s why a train is so important, you’re not fighting for position, you are exactly where you want to be, if you are battling for position then it takes the edge off your speed.

PEZ: The best train – Cipo or Ale?

Magnus: I don’t think there’s a lot of difference between them; I’d say that Petacchi’s train at Fassa was slightly better than Milram and those guys were on a par with Cipo’s guys at Saeco. That said, Petacchi has good guys at Milram and they don’t often get it wrong.

PEZ: Is there a ‘mutual respect’ policy in the sprints?

Magnus: (chuckles first!) No, it’s every man for himself! You have to go where you need to go and you just hope that the guys behind are watching what’s happening. If you have to use your shoulders and helmet to get position, then that’s what you do. All the guys that are up there in the sprints can handle it. When it gets dangerous, is if it’s an easy stage, then you get guys who aren’t used to it getting involved, they don’t have the ‘feel’ for it and it gets dangerous.

PEZ: Petacchi’s back.

Magnus: He’s had a rough old year, but when he got that first win, that opened the door, it raised his confidence and now he’s won two. It’s ‘form’, the legs and the head, you can’t seem to go wrong, you win one, then you win everything.

PEZ: Liquigas must be happy with you.

Magnus: Yeah, the team has been doing well and for my part, I’ve been taking my job very seriously. Manuel Beltran says he feels very secure if I’m around him, keeping him out of the wind and looking after him. The last three days, I’ve left him at around 30 to go, just to have a bit of a rest before the sprint starts. I enjoy it, particularly because you won’t meet a nicer guy in the peloton than Manuel Beltran. I seem to be thriving on the hard work, it’s taken a while, but I’ve had six months injury-free and I have great condition.

PEZ: A bit lumpy tomorrow.

Magnus: Yeah, it’ll be a hard day, but I think Rabobank will let a break go, then control it.

PEZ: Menchov is looking good.

Magnus: Yeah, he is and there’s a time trial to come, which suits him plus he has a strong team – but it’s not over yet, a lot can happen.

PEZ: One more thing; “skott om dig” (Swedish for ‘take care of yourself’)

Magnus: Not bad, thank you.

We’ll be talking to ‘Mr. Versatile’ again, early next week.

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