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RIDER OF THE WEEK – Kristian House

30/07/2010 Leave a comment

Kristian was born in England, grew up in Austin, Texas, moved to Belgium at 18 to race and now he’s ended up back in the UK. He currently rides for the British team Rapha Condor Sharp and was the British National Champion of 2009. He’s a great team player as well as a great winner. He’s also known as ‘The House of Pain’ for always being on the front, riding hard for his mates and making life miserable for the other teams.

-What got you interested in cycling and when did you start?

Well I was always cycling from a young kid, not in any kind of racing sense, but just for fun and generally getting into trouble. We also only had one car and my dad would use that to get to work, so we’d ride to school, to the park, to soccer, or track and cross country. I only got into racing after meeting two racers in Austin, Heidi and Craig. They helped me find a team and from there I never really looked back.

-What have you sacrificed for cycling?

In short? A lot. That being said, I never really looked at it as being sacrifices as such. It was what I wanted to do so… I just did it. Its hard being away from family all the time, and when I left Austin at 18 and moved to Belgium, I did miss a lot of my friends and family. The great thing about being in this sport for the past 12 years is that I’ve experienced things I had never expected, like travelling to places I might not have if I wasn’t in this sport. But most importantly I’ve made friends for life. That’s something I wouldn’t trade.

-What is your biggest achievement so far?

The nationals.

-Do you look up to anyone? Who, why?

A really good friend of mine back in Austin, Darrin Fisher. This guy has been through so much in his life and to see him where he is right now is something I find inspiring.

-What would a perfect 2010 season be for you?

It’s already been perfect, I really can’t complain. Winning in Japan really was special, and to get a Tour Series win was brilliant too. Also winning in front of my mum back in Texas in the jersey was brilliant.

– If you could invite 5 people to a dinner party (dead, alive, or fictitious) who would they be and why would you like to invite them?

I’d only invite three. My brother, my uncle and my grandfather. To have one more evening with them… Well I don’t think I’d want anything more.

-Do you have a significant other? How does the lifestyle of a cyclist affect relationships?

No, I’m single. That’s a pretty tough question. I think it affects relationships quite a bit, considering how much I travel and spend training. That being said some people make it work without too many issues. I’m just not one of them, haha.

-We’ve heard rumours that you wax your legs. Do you do it by yourself or go to a salon?

Rumours? People talk about this? Haha. I have waxed my legs before… I’d never do it myself, I don’t know how people do that.

-What does it mean to you to be British National Champion? Have anything changed?

Its the proudest moment of my cycling by far. And something I’ve wanted for so long. The biggest thing that changed is the recognition that I get; people wanting to talk to me, autographs, and people wanting thing from me. At times it’s been overwhelming, but I’d not change it. It’s been an amazing experience. And I look forward to winning it again!

-When there are many centimetres of snow outside, how do you keep yourself entertained on the trainer indoors?

Who said I’m not outside? Haha. I’ve got quite a decent collection of movies, so I just set the laptop up and watch them. If I’m doing something more specific, I’ll listen to music.

-What was it like growing up in Texas? How is it different from England?

Austin is a brilliant city. If I ever do have kids it would be where I’d want them to grow up, if I lived in the states.

There’s so many differences between Texas and the UK. To many to list and both have their advantages. Where my family live in the UK, you can drive to another country in an hour. Less even. In Texas, an hour and I’m not even to the next city. I can’t remember how many times the UK will fit into Texas, but well, you know! Space is obviously an issue. There’s just a lot more of it there!

-Do you have a favourite charity? If so, which one?

I’d have to say the prostate cancer charity. I’ve done a fair bit of work for them over the past year and a half, and its something that’s grown in importance to me. The team backs them now, as do our sponsors Sharp UK, who just completed the RAAM for prostate cancer. They did amazing and finished 3rd!!

-Why do you think it is so important for children to have the opportunity to participate in sport and play?

I think it’s very important. Look at the Bahatti foundation and what they are doing there. It really is great to see. You don’t have to go that far to see it either, giving kids direction through sport can teach them the discipline they’ll need to go further in life, as well as keep them out of trouble. If they decide to take it further and travel with it, it’s a brilliant way to see the world and see new cultures. It’s one of the things I love most about doing what I do.

RIDER OF THE WEEK – Joao Correia

08/06/2010 Leave a comment

Photo © 2009 Cervélo TestTeam & Jason Gould

The former Portuguese National Champion (ok, at age 6, but still!) is one of the new members of the pro-peloton this year. He raced pro when he was younger, then decided to enter the media industry, but luckily for us, he decided he’d rather ride his bike than sit in an office. He lost more than 25 kg and came back to the pro ranks with Bissel Pro Cycling in 2008. He is smart, funny and nice – which makes for great interview. Thanks to Joao for taking the time! Enjoy!

-What got you interested in cycling and when did you start?

My father got me started on riding and took me to my first race when I was six years old in 1981. It was the Portuguese National Championships for six year olds and it was just one other kid and I.

That was my first race and the other kid somehow crashed going over a water main on the street and I remember that I wanted to wait for him but my father who was running besides me said to keep going.  That’s how I became national champion.  I didn’t crash the guy I swear.

-What have you sacrificed for cycling?

I think every athlete at all levels sacrifices something for their sport.  Geez I don’t know, I think youth went out the window.  I never really did things like other kids while I was growing up.  But you get some much from it like discipline and maturity that it was a small price to pay.  Recently my biggest sacrifices are tied to my family.  I have a lot of support from my wife and children but they pay a heavy price for me being away in Europe while they are back in New York.  I worry a lot about the price that my son is paying for not having his father around at such a young age.

-What is your biggest achievement so far?

My biggest achievement so far on the bike is just getting across the finish line and helping the team as asked.  To me personally that really is a big achievement considering that I was working until December 1st and really was out of the sport for almost fifteen years.

-Do you look up to anyone? Who, why?

Yes of course.  I look up to a lot of people.  I think it’s important to have good examples in your life.  Everybody has hard times at some point and having good role models can help you make the right decisions.  Probably one of the people that I look up to mostly is my former boss Chris Lambiase.  He is somebody who helped guide my career off the bike from early on and was an excellent example of how you can succeed in business and still maintain your values.  When I became a father and a husband he was a constant gut check.

On the bike probably Inigo Cuesta who is one of my current teammates.  Inigo has been a professional for 17 years and to me is a fine example of what a professional rider should be.  Basically professional in every aspect of his craft.

-What would a perfect 2010 season be for you?

For me if I could finish every race I enter and help the team as asked it would be a perfect season.  On a personal level I’d like to become Portuguese National Champion and where the national champion’s jersey in races outside Portugal.

-What 3 things would you change about cycling?

That’s a tough question and I’m not an authority.  I think we just need to continue to become a sport that is truly professional.  We can’t achieve that without having a clear vision of where the sport is going and unity amongst all the stake holders in the sport: Teams, riders, race organizers and governing bodies.  If you can achieve that then everything else comes pretty easy.  Right now I think it’s a fragmented sport.

-What 3 things make you proud to be a cyclist?

The sacrifices you make as a cyclist is one.  It’s a very hard sport that takes a lot of commitment and passion and I am proud to be part of such a sport.  The fact that the sport is getting cleaner and cleaner and being part of that changing culture is something that makes me proud to be a cyclist.  And last the ability to put in all this work and then see how the boy reacts.  It’s a sport that if you do the right things in training, nutrition, racing and resting you are rewarded personally as an athlete.

–     If you could invite 5 people to a dinner party (dead, alive, or fictitious) who would they be?

Another tough one.  I would say for sure my two grandfathers who have passed away, one whom I never met since he passed away when my father was young.  My wife’s maternal grandmother.  She talks about her all the time and I would really have liked to have met her.  Charlie Rose would be good just to direct the conversation in the right direction and I’d leave the last seat empty for now to figure out just before dinner whom I should invite.  Maybe somebody like God.  I’ve got lots of questions.  I’d make sure my uncle cooked and I’d pick all the wines.  And trust me there would be lots of great wines.

and a few questions fans have suggested;

-How is it being on a team with Thor Hushovd and Gabriel Rasch?

It’s great.  I obviously knew of them before coming to the team and they were the two people who helped me the most when I first got to the team.  Gabriel helped me find my first place here and I’m living in the same city as Thor and both him and his wife have gone out of their ways several times to help me get settled.  I train with him most of the time and it’s nice to see such a successful athlete also be such a great person.  I know he once bumped into a few Norwegian cyclists out riding and they got talking and he invited them for coffee.  How many pro athletes would do that?  I think that is a really unique thing about cycling.  The athletes are approachable and happy to talk to people.  There is no field or fence to stop you from going up to a rider and speaking with them.

-Would you rather wear World Champion, Maglia Rosa or Yellow jersey?

They are all special jerseys in their own right but if I had to pick it would be the World Champion’s jersey.  You wear that one for a year and get custom kit made for you so you never have to look for it in the laundry.  No more writing your name on clothing.

-How is it being in Cervèlo? Do you get a chance to get to know everyone?

It’s a great team.  Very unique and a special culture of racing, product innovation and fan access that I think is unique in professional cycling.  I have gotten to know all the riders and staff since we’ve had two camps where everybody was present and generally the race programs tend to be mixed but you end up staying in touch with most of the people you’ve met even if your not racing with them.

-Which race would you most like to win during your career?

-Do you have a favourite charity? If so, which one and why?

Boy were really going for the tough questions here.  I’d say the World Championships or Olympic Games.  To be an Olympic Champion is something that you have for the rest of your life and is very unique.  Same for World Champion.  Chances are pretty small but if were talking about any race then might as well go for the big ones.

I have several charities that I support including the Lance Armstrong Foundation as well as the Davis Phinney Foundation focusing on Parkinson’s disease.  I don’t have a favorite or one that is personally the closest to me since I think most people get close to charities about issues that have touched them personally and both myself and my family have been very blessed by not having many tragedies in our lives.  I try to support as many different issues as possible and think it’s an important civic duty we have as global citizens to support charities and help others that who may be less fortunate.

RIDER OF THE WEEK – STIJN VANDENBERGH

01/06/2010 Leave a comment

The 26 year old was born in Oudenaarde, the centre of the Flemish Ardennes, and at 1.99m he is one of the tallest riders of the peloton. He started his pro career with the protour team Unibet in 2007, was offered a contract with AG2R-La Mondiale in 2008 and after a year in the French team he moved to Katusha and has been there since 2009.

-What got you interested in cycling and when did you start?

I started cycling when I was 12 years old, but I started competing when I was 17 years old. I turned pro in 2007. One of the things I like about being a cyclist is that I get to travel and see a lot of nice countries, like Australia and Malaysia.

-What have you sacrificed for cycling?

I have to go to bed early and I don’t get to go to many parties with friends.
-What is your biggest achievement so far?

Starting in the Tour de France and being able to finish it in a way I’m happy with.
-Do you look up to anyone? Who, why?

Cadel Evans because I think he lives 100% for his job and think he does it clean.
-What would a perfect 2010 season be for you?

Just one victory in a race. I also want to start the Tour de France again and I want to do a good job for my team mates, and I also want to be selected for the WC in Australia.
-What 3 things make you proud to be a cyclist?

Starting the big races, ‘monuments’ like the Tour de France, Paris – Roubaix and Ronde van Vlaanderen.

–  Which race would you most like to win in your career?

Ronde van Vlaanderen

–   How do you relax after a particularly hard race?

With some good party music

–   What’s your favourite race of the season?

Paris-Roubaix

–   If you could have a super-power in one race, what race would it be and why?

In Tour of Flandres or Paris – Roubaix, but also the Belgian championcips, then I can show the belgian tricoloré for one year !

-Why do you think it is so important for children to have the opportunity to participate in sport and play?
It’s important for the health of the child and to build character that you can also use later in life.

CARLOS SASTRE

26/05/2010 Leave a comment

 Carlos Sastre is the winner of the 2008 Tour de France and have several top 3 placings in Grand Tours, and is probably my favourite rider in the world. Why? There are many reasons. First of all, during the press conference before the 2009 Tour de France he was asked what he, as defending champion, felt about Lance Armstrong calling the 2008 Tour a joke. He replied, ‘He is a great champion, but behind every rider, must there be a person and that is his opinion’. I simply love the way he answered that question, and it shows what kind of person he is. Also the main quote on his website says; ‘The greatest victory is to enjoy what you do and what you achieve.’ But there are also other reasons why he’s my favourite rider. He does a huge amount of work for charities. He supports no less than 7 charities, most of them aimed at improving the lives of children in different situations. Here’s a little bit about the charities he supports.

 

Fundación Provincial Deportiva Víctor Sastre – a charity based near where Carlos grew up in Spain. The charity is aimed at children, using sport to help children develop physically and personally. Cycling has been the main sport for the foundation, but they are now also working with other sports.

 

Kinderkankerfonds – This is a Beligan charity, which works to support children suffering from cancer. Money raised from charitable initiatives and t-shirt sales are donated to the hospital in Aalter, near Gent, where Carlos has a fanclub.

 

Velokhaya – is the awareness and fundraising vehicle for the Life Cycling Academy, which is a non-profit organization focused on introducing the sport of cycling to previously disadvantaged communities in South Africa.

 Ávila Down’s Syndrome Association – This foundation’s philosophy centres on the dignity of human beings, considering all people with Down’s Syndrome as individuals with feelings, abilities, experiences, ambitions, needs and flaws. The foundation works on the principle that there should be more emphasis on their capabilities rather than their limitations or differences.

 

VIhDA Association – the main aim of this charity is to contribute to the life expectancy and improve the quality of life in the HIV/ADIS community of countries where economic levels are low and health and social assistance structure is scarce.

 

 

PYDS (Purkal) –  Founded by a small group of people who are committed to do what is within their power in their own community and their example is encouraging others to get involved in what is happening in the small village around the Purkal Gaon complex.
In Purkal, PYDS has made great efforts to change the life of almost 140 children. These volunteers provide education, food and tutelage for children that come from the poorest villages in India. These children, who were hardly even able to understand their lessons when they joined the project, can now express themselves perfectly in English. They have become interactive students who are developing interest and enthusiasm for science, history and geography.

 

The Sid-Can organisation is acknowledged by the Spanish Home Office and was created by a group of people that have lived through an experience of cancer or aids, either directly or through a friend or relative, and have joined the organisation to give thanks for life and to the people who have done so much for them. Its members want to engage in doing something for those who are now experiencing difficult moments.

 

All information is taken from Carlos Sastre’s website.

RIDER OF THE WEEK – Tejay Van Garderen

10/05/2010 Leave a comment

This 21 year old is aiming high for the future, and with a recent 2nd overall in Tour of Turkey I think his goals are very realistic. He’s just joined Bike Pure, and is one of many young riders who speak out for a clean, fair sport. Next race up for Tejay is the Amgen Tour of California where I hope he’ll get another chance to shine.

-What got you interested in cycling and when did you start?

My father is a club cyclist, and that kinda sparked my interest. I started when I was 10 years old, which was when I could fit my legs over the old bike my dad had hanging up in his closet.

-What have you sacrificed for cycling?

I need to spend a lot of time away from my friends and family. And sometimes it’s hard to find motivation in training or a race that isn’t going well. But cycling has given me so much in return that I don’t really see it as much of a sacrifice.

-What is your biggest achievement so far?

I would say my biggest achievement so far would be making it into the Pro Tour. In terms of results getting 2nd at Tour of Turkey was a big step for me.

-What would a perfect 2010 season be for you?

A perfect 2010 season for me would be having the team be happy with me. Hopefully getting a good result in the Tour of California and getting a start in the Vuelta and finishing.

-What 3 things would you change about cycling?

a) I wish the UCI stopped making all these stupid bike restrictions.
b) There would be no more cheaters, although I think that is almost a thing of the past, with a few exceptions of course.
c) That the riders would have more of a voice rather than being forced to race and sleep and travel wherever the people in charge tell us to.

-What 3 things make you proud to be a cyclist?

a) The fact that this is the hardest sport in the world
b) That we are paving the way in sports for antidoping practices.

-What’s your goal for the next 5 years?

Over the next 5 years I want to develop into a grand tour contender.

-Which race would you most like to win during your career?

The Tour de France

-What do you, as a young rider who’s fairly new to the peloton, think is needed to fight doping in the sport?

I think the biggest thing we could do, would be to make harsher punishment for people who get caught. Make it not worth the risk.

-What is the general morale in the peloton at the moment regarding the recent cases of doping?

What I’ve heard mostly from people in the peloton regarding doping cases is “man I can’t believe how stupid that guys is”. And also frustration that these guys are ruining our sport.

-How big a part of your life was sport when you were growing up?

I have been racing since I was 10 years old, so it has been a big part of my life for a long time.

-Why do you think it is so important for children to have the opportunity to participate in sport and play?

It’s a good way to build character and interact with others, and it’s also a great way to learn and stay fit and healthy.

I would like to thank Tejay for taking the time to answer these questions, and I will be watching out for him in the future.

RIDER OF THE WEEK – Kurt Asle Arvesen

27/04/2010 Leave a comment

Norwegian Champion Kurt Asle Arvesen is one of the most experienced and talented riders in the peloton. The 35 year old turned pro in 1998 and joined Team Sky this year after many years with Bjarne Riis. When he’s not busy training or racing he sometimes hold spinning classes and lectures. He recently did this for the employees on an oil rig, but thanks to a certain volcano he got stuck there for 5 days. He’s back on the main land now and I’m very happy he took the time to answer some questions.

What got you interested in cycling, and when did you start?

I started cycling as alternative training during the summer of 1990, at that time I was doing cross-country skiing.

What have you sacrificed for your career?

I feel privileged that I’ve been able to do what I have for the last 20 years, so for that reason I don’t feel like I’ve sacrificed anything.

What’s your biggest achievement so far?

The victory in Worlds U23 in 1997 was the  most important one, as that is what got me signed to a pro team. The biggest achievements are stage victories in Giro d’Italia and Tour de France, and also the TTT stage in Vuelta a España was important. It was fun winning something together, and to stand on the podium with the whole team.

Do you look up to anyone? Who and why?

I look up to people who keeps going and makes it, doesn’t matter where, being sports or business.

Are there anything you would change about cycling?

I wish the riders were organised better and that our opinions were considered more.

If you could invite 5 people for dinner (dead,alive or fictuos) who would it be?

My wife, grandfather, father, mother and brother.

Which opportunities and challenges are there with being on a brand new team?

We can create something new. The challenges can be small things that will fall in place after a while.

How is it being in Team Sky? Do you get the time to get to know everyone?

There are a lot of new, very nice people. There are so many that it takes a good while to get to know everyone properly.

What would a perfect 2010 season be for you?

To ride the Tour de France in top form and do a good job for the team.

Where do you find the motivation to come back after injuries?

I don’t like it when my body doesn’t work as it should.

Would you want to become a DS when your cycling career is over?

I’d like to work with cycling in some way.

Would you rather wear the Maglia Rosa, Worlds or Yellow Jersey?

Worlds

Are there any plans for the team to work for you in any races? Which ones?

The chances will come when I’m in form and I’ll get the teams support.

RIDER OF THE WEEK – Steven Cozza

22/04/2010 Leave a comment

This 25-year-old Garmin-Transitions rider is truly something special. And it’s an honour for me to be allowed to portray him as ‘Rider Of The Week’. There might be a lot of you that have never heard of him, and some who only know him for his moustache, but this week we really get to know the person behind the rider. At just 12 years of age Steven took a stand against discrimination within the Boy Scouts, and started an organisation, Scouting For All, to change their policies. From the age of 12 – 15 he spoke all over the USA against discrimination, and still goes to schools during the off season to speak to youth about standing up for what you believe in. When he made it into the professional world of cycling, he decided to start the ‘Race For Kids Fan Club’ where he aims to raise $1 million for children all around the world. It’s not a charity where the money goes just one place; you can choose which childrens charity you want to donate to. ‘Race For Kids Fan Club’ keeps a total of all the money donated to all the different charities. I thought this was such a fantastic initiative by Steven, and decided all the money we raise for Right To Play will go towards the total.

What got you interested in cycling and when did you start?

I started off racing BMX. I worked for an old guy taking care of his garden for a year and bought my first racing bike that way. Then my friends got me into mountain biking. I started off by taking my mom’s mountain bike, but then got in trouble for taking it on the trails without permission, so my parents got me own for my 13th birthday. I started racing on the road in ‘99, the year Lance Armstrong won his first TDF. He really inspired me so I got a road bike. Well I had to also ride on the road due to a broken shoulder I sustained in a high school wrestling accident. I never went back to racing mountain bikes or wrestling after that.

What have you sacrificed for cycling?

I have sacrificed a lot. The greatest sacrifice is not being able to live by my family, but instead across the world. For the most part though, the sacrifices have been all totally worth it. Following your dream is the best thing you can do in your life and I want to encourage all kids to continue to follow their childhood dreams.

What is your biggest achievement so far?

My biggest achievement is coming back after every time I’ve been knocked down. Breaking through every wall that’s put in my way and never giving up.

Do you look up to anyone? Who, Why?

Yes, I look up to Muhammad Ali. He is the greatest athlete ever – in and out of the ring. What a champion – to not only be the greatest athlete of all time, but also a great human being, always standing up for others and never looking down on people. He is the greatest.

What would a perfect 2010 season be for you?

The perfect season would be to race to the best of my ability and to help my team the best I can.

Which 3 things would you change about cycling?

I’d make more races in other parts of the world.

Which 3 things make you proud to be a cyclist? I’m proud to be a clean cyclist. I’m proud to stick to my beliefs. And, it feels good to be a good role model for kids.

If you could invite 5 people to a dinner party (dead, alive, or fictitious) who would they be and why would you like to invite them?
Muhammad Ali, Ghandi, and the rest would be homeless, starving people and children

What is your favorite race of the season? Paris-Roubaix. I love this race because it’s so different than the rest.

Which race would you most like to win? Paris-Roubaix.

What is the reason you wanted to start Race for Kids Fan Club? Because I like helping others rather than just myself. All children deserve a chance in this life. We can all make a positive difference.

Right To Play already has projects in 23 countries worldwide, but where do you think sport and play could do the most good for young people and society as a whole?

I think it’s important to give all youth in the world these opportunities. Sport is such a great activity. Competition used in a peaceful way. It teaches kids so much and should be available to all. Thanks to Right To Play, they are paving the road to making this happen.

Why do you think it is so important for children to have the opportunity to participate in sport and play?

It’s good for everything: health, teaching responsibility, teamwork, building confidence and self esteem, encourages friendship and so much more. Sport/Play and Education are crucial in the development of a young person’s life.

If you want to support the fundraising, and also become a member of the ‘Race For Kids Fan Club’, you can donate to Right To Play here, or bid for items in the auctions that will be on ebay.

Thanks so much to Steven Cozza for taking the time to answer the questions! Good luck with the season, and of course with the amazing work you do for all the children in the world!

And thanks to Kristof Ramon for the picture.