At the beginning of 2010, Kyle Wamsley stated that after his successes in crit racing, he was now going for results in stage races. In his first year with the BISSELL Pro Cycling, he seemed poised to achieve his goal with a strong start of the season that included a podium at SRAM Tour of the Gila but then disaster at the Joe Martin Stage Race. On the final stage, Wamsley was chasing the break when he crashed on a sketchy downhill corner. The rider was being attended by EMS for multiple laps as the field rode by but after a trip to the hospital, a broken collarbone and two teeth were the injuries. But those were enough to take Wamsley out of the Amgen Tour of California and the TD Bank International Cycling Championship.
Back with BISSELL, the 31-year old Pennsylvania-resident is motivated for the 2011 season, marking the Philly race with a “gold star”. We sat down with Wamsley at the BISSELL training camp to understand what drives him and how he prepares for his season.
Will 2011 be Wamsley’s year? Time will tell but we think that he’s definitely a rider to watch and that he will step it up this season.
We talked last year and you said that you were more than a crit rider and that you wanted people to know that, and then you started off with a bang, a win at Gila and then the crash at Joe Martin.
First of all, did you think you were on the way to doing that before the crash last year?
A hundred percent. I was coming onto form at the right time but unfortunately crashes which are part of cycling inhibited everything. I’ve been kind of blessed, most of my career I haven’t had bad crashes. I’ve been racing since I was 14 and it’s the first time I broke my collarbone. I think it’s just cycling catching up with me a little bit. I was happy with how my form was coming on at Gila and Joe Martin and it was only two weeks to California, I really felt that I was coming into my own and I was ready to pop the big one. If it didn’t come at California, it certainly would have came at Philly, that’s a hometown race for me.
And I think this year I’m on a very similar track, I’m actually a little bit more rested coming into the season which I think it’s good. I think it will provide me with a bigger peak come June and I felt that a lot of the teams and a lot of the riders kind of fell apart around that June area and with reviewing the season and planning for this year, I hope to take advantage of people’s weaknesses in June. Certainly got a big gold star next to Philly for me. Sitting and watching that with a broken collarbone, watching the winner coming off of Borrajo’s wheel, when I knew that Borrajo was the guy to follow to the line, that was a big motivational factor for me this winter and I’m really going after that.
California, in that same category, it’s going to be a lot tougher, that’s the Tour de France for us, one hundred percent, it’s going to be that caliber of riders, those guys are extremely fit by that time of the year, they’ve been racing for a solid two or three months. And honestly, there’s a really large gap in the racing schedule in April, it’s going to be really hard for us to have that kind of volume in racing in our legs to match those guys. So it’s those first two stages, especially for me, that we’re really going to have to capitalize and make sure our name is out there. For me, that’s trying to get on the podium with those guys, certainly a victory is what we want but to be realistic, just to get on the podium with a guy like [Mark] Cavendish or [Tyler] Farrar is a victory in itself. I would never never put it past popping something bigger than that but I think Philly is going to be the primary goal for the year, and the later season goal of winning Crit Nats because we’re going to be sponsoring the race I believe and it’s in Grand Rapids, the home of BISSELL and home of Advantage Benefit, Kellogg’s is a Michigan based sponsor as well. It’s very very important.
That’s a lot of pressure there.
It’s a lot of pressure but as long as you prepare properly for it and the team is racing well together, the pressure is not there, it’s your desire to win surmounts the pressure that you have and you’ll be fine.
You said a lot of interesting things that I want to come back to but the first thing, that was a hard crash at Joe Martin. I saw [DS] Eric [Wohlberg] run to the corner. Do you remember any of it? Did you relive it afterwards?
I remember going through the corner and hearing my tire squeal because it was a little bit wet there and when I heard that I knew that I was in a lot of trouble and I kind of remember hitting the curb a little bit. A couple of feelings washing over, first thing, ‘oh no I crashed, what did I do something stupid like that for?, oh no I crashed right before California’ and I had crashed earlier in the year when the form was starting to come in and that set me back probably 7 to 10 days then ‘so great now I’m going to be all beat up for California.’ Finally thinking ‘oh no I’m actually hurt and this is a problem.’ With never breaking anything before it was probably one of the scariest moment I’ve ever had, being away from home and being that seriously hurt. I had a couple of people actually come into the ER, some other racers and directors saying ‘hey it’s only a collarbone’, I knocked two teeth out, and ‘it’s only teeth they can fix it, you’ll be fine.’ Two months later I’m back, I’m up at Fitchburg smashing the breakaway.
It was a nasty corner, slick, with gravel. A lot of people were going down.
55 crashes or something like that.
Something like that. It was nuts. Following that crash in other races, did you think about it on a tricky corner or descent or was it completely out of your mind?
No, a hundred percent I was a little timid for quite awhile, something that scary. Cornering comes fairly natural to me, starting to think about it is not a good thing but what really happened is I crashed two more times after that and honestly until I crashed again and found out that you can crash and it doesn’t always hurt, once that happened everything was fine which is an interesting strategy. (laughs) Not a good way to get your confidence back, but it came back and that’s the important thing.
You also mentioned that you were reviewing your season. How much time do you spend at the end of the season to review what happened and did that change your preparation for this year?
Typically I like to spend a full day reviewing the season that I just had, seasons past and kind of comparing what training I did leading into some of the races, when I was going good and then I usually do a block of easy riding. I probably do the first comparison maybe October, I’m doing some cross training, I’m not on the bike all the time and you’re kind of fresh, right when you get that motivation back, I do my first review.
And then I get a month into training and I sit down and do it again and what that will do is it kind of gives you a second review of yourself and I think it’s important to hash out what goals, what strategies and by that time. The second review is probably in mid-November and then the NRC calendar has come out and that is certainly a really high priority for us and there are 14 criteriums on the NRC calendar. Okay well, maybe I need to be really good for the crits and all of seriousness, Joe Martin is a criterium-racers stage race as well as Nature Valley so it’s kind of extra point there for a criterium rider. I think it’s more than reasonable to train for something like Philly, that will give you good legs for Joe Martin and Nature Valley, the speed is there and it will just lay into the crits for the rest of the year.
Sprinters and crit specialists have a reputation of being hot heads, yet listening to you I see some a lot of planning and preparation.
There are definitely some people out there maybe could be better but also it’s criterium racing is more like Nascar, everybody is trying to show how good they are, acting like they don’t train or do structure. But honestly when you do those things that’s when you see things that you can’t explain how they happen, you can’t explain how fast you are because of your preparation and you’re peaking at the right time. And I think in the US a lot of people overlook that, you see a lot of people that are always fifth, they’re always fourth and I think it’s important to be going that good for certain races. Races that I’ve done in the past, when I won Fitchburg is a perfect example that when everything comes together I am on another level and I’ll sacrifice some races to make sure that I’m on top at other races and I think that’s very, very important and the team allows me to do that.
[Note: Then racing with the Colavita/Sutter Home team, Wamsley won a stage and the overall at the Fitchburg-Longsjo Classic in 2008]
You said you reviewed your season in the fall so did you change anything in preparation this year or is it following what you did last year?
It’s very close to last year but I think resting just a little bit more before the season started, I didn’t go quite as hard in December and January as I did last year and that will make me a little fresher and I’ll be a little bit better in June. Typically if I’m going good in March and April, to carry that into June is too long for my body type and I think capitalizing on races, Joe Martin through Nature Valley, capitalizing on California and all that kind of stuff, having the form coming on then, especially the gap in April is going to be key.
This is your second year on the BISSELL team with not that many changes on the roster.
We have some new guys. I feel like we’re going to have a deeper crit squad and I think it changes it a little bit more because with a couple more riders on the team, I won’t have to do as much double duty in some of the stage races. And that will give me a little bit more time for preparation for crits later in the season. I think the biggest factor with more riders is that we’ll just be pushing each other much more to be at the races that we want to be at and to achieve at the races that we want to be at and I think that’s the biggest positive. I think with a lot of the core returning guys, we’ve been talking to each other all winter and we’ve been motivating each other more than last year. I think the general consensus is that we were a little disappointed with the results last year and we’re a lot more motivated this year to do better and it’s feeding and brewing here at training camp.
So this is the year for Kyle?
I hope so.
After the training camp, the BISSELL squad, including Wamsley, showed cohesiveness as they dominated the early California race the MERCO Cycling Classic. Wamsley finished a very close second taking second by a mere inch (or less) on the crit. His next race will be the NRC opener, the Redland Bicycle Classic in two weeks.