What a year for Svein Tuft. He won the Tour de Beauce, the Canadian TT championship and finished seventh in the TT at the Beijing Olympics. And last year, he and his team, the Symmetrics, pursused UCI points all over the Americas to win the overall individual classification of the UCI Americas Tour. Tuft finished third in the tough Tour of Missouri ITT and shared his thoughts with the press following the stage.
You were saying at the finish line, you thought that you were in for a good ride, and also, last year you were at this race, you saw the course but you don’t remember it because you came in from Venezuela where you and some of your teammates were under the weather. Give us that perspective now that you are cognizant of the course, and talk about what happened last year?
Svein: We were down in Venezuela, doing the tour down there, it’s a fourteen day tour and pretty unorganized and pretty rough little race and a bunch of our guys got some kind of sickness that spread through the whole team. We came here pretty rough, it wasn’t our best showing, it was lucky we had Pinfold and Zach really riding well and they were able to pull out some good finishes, I think a couple of seconds. I remember doing the TT last year, I didn’t know what I was getting into today, as far as the direction of the course, or anything, I don’t remember anything from it. I was in rough shape last year, and I was really happy with today’s ride.
There are some exceptional good time trialists here, you have the National Champion if Italy [Marco Pinotti], you have George Hincapie, Vande Velde, Michael Rodgers, three time World Champion, a really strong field. Any surprise in where you are, especially just coming off the success in Beijing?
Svein: Well, I think Beijing gave me a lot of confidence as a rider, I did everything as far as preparation that I could coming into it and it really gave me a ton of confidence as far as being a time trialist and knowing what I could do. I could see there that I could compete with some of the best guys in the world and that’s really help me coming into this race, and being like ‘man you should not mess around at all, just do what you know you need to do’ and I had help from my guys yesterday just taking it easy and trying to stay as fresh for today as possible because it’s a really tough course and like I said a couple of times already, there’s no trick to riding it when you have the caliber of riders that you do have here today so I knew I just had to ride with everything I had and there was no point in conserving or taking it easy, you have to hit it with everything and make it to the finish, I was really happy with doing that today.
How tough is this time trial course in comparison with the others and what makes it tough?
Svein: I rank this up there with probably one of the top five hardest time trials that I’ve done in my life, we’ve done them all over the world. Beijing was hard, there was a lot of climbing but here, it’s such a pace change because some of the climbs really do get steep, it’s really hard to stay on top of it and not get bogged down. I think that the rider that can stay on top of their gear is going to do well here. So that’s strictly coming down to your form and your fitness, if you can keep pushing over some of the steeper sections and re-accelerate over the top and get back to speed again, you’re going to do well. Definitely this is a relentless course with the hills and the wind, it’s one of the toughest for sure.
By staying on top of your gear, is it fast RPMs?
Svein: Exactly, a lot of times with time trials, you have the gradual highway grade but here there are pitches that kind of take you out of that rhythm and you have to be able to stay in your gear and still push and have a good cadence, just so you can re-accelerate over the top and get back up to speed and where you need to be.
Give us your feeling about the course.
Svein: The courses here are pretty tough as far as the wind, the constant up and down. There are no big hills to separate things but it can be very difficult if a strong team starts putting it on the front in crosswind sections as Columbia did with stage one, they split the field pretty good. So there are all those elements that kind happen in a race like this, the courses here are difficult in the sense of the winds, the crosswinds, the up and down profile.
Given the fact that Columbia and Garmin-Chipotle have been trading off, what is your team’s strategies going into the next days?
Svein: Those are two of the strongest teams here bar none, I really see like Garmin being able to control and do what they need to do and Columbia taking over for the finish with a guy like Cavendish you can’t go wrong. I kind of see that the way it’s going to play out and that works out well for us because we have [Andrew] Pinfold who is finishing really well and moving up everyday and kind of figuring it out and so obviously we’ll try to protect our third on GC and we’ll be going for better finishes.
You won the UCI Americas title, you raced as a continental team all over the Americas. Winning that, have you seen the western hemisphere really improve over the last couple of, the caliber of not only cyclists but also the races?
Svein: For sure, that’s one of the things on our team we always talk about, a lot of those racers in South America really don’t get the respect that they deserve and they’re some amazing riders and amazing teams down there. It’s really popular in South America and we’ll go down there and there are some guys that we’ve never heard of and they are just amazing riders and the Tecos team is a good example of a high caliber team in that part of the world and they come up here and compete on this level no problems, and we have a lot of respect for those guys as we’ve been down to their neck of the woods and raced against them in their countries and they are phenomenal riders.
You have made comments in the past about staying clean and anti-doping, do you have any personal comments about teams and individuals and staying clean?
Svein: I think it’s good to see the focus has been put on that in the sport and I think things are changing for the better so that’s a really positive thing, I’m quite happy about that.