Pre-Giro d'Italia 2011

Pre-Giro d'Italia 2011

Q:  No racing for Team RadioShack this week.  Relaxing?

JB: What's that?!? Not at all.  It's been pretty busy.  Meetings, conference calls, helping Victoria with homework.  And soon I'll have to start training for "100 Miles of Nowhere." The last time I rode on a trainer for that distance was when I was a pro and that's been a while.

Q: Teaming up with Fat Cyclist again?

JB: Yes. Great guy.  I'm a big fan of him. I did a live chat with him a couple months ago and he said we should do something together again for World Bicycle Relief.  So shortly after that Fatty asked me to do the "100 Miles of Nowhere". He reopened registration with all net proceeds going to WBR.  WBR has a goal of putting 50,000 bikes in the hands of school children in Zambia and in March they gave their 10,000th bike.  Very impressive, but still A LOT of work to be done.  I went last off-season to Zambia and it was just an eye opening experience.  Eva, Victoria and I continue to talk about that trip.  So hopefully we'll get some people willing to register for the event and help the cause.  And as an incentive, if you register you'll be put in a random raffle drawing to win a signed Team RadioShack jersey from the Giro d'Italia squad.

Please Note: Registration for the "100 Miles of Nowhere" has closed. Continue to check back for other updates.

Q: Let's talk about the team. Going into the first Grand Tour of the season, what are your thoughts on the season to date?

JB: Very satisfied. We've had 12 victories from 7 different riders. That doesn't just tell me that we are winning, but also how strong our team truly is. A rider can be a domestique in one race and then the next race, he can be our leader going for the win. The team dynamics have been great and everyone takes ownership of his role. The 5 Team Classification titles are very indicative of that. I think last year, we had a total of 16 victories, which is still good, but this year we are well on track to eclipse that number.

Q: Which Team RadioShack rider has really stood out in your mind?

JB: I really hate those types of questions. It's really not fair to answer because you always end up leaving someone out. In cycling, one rider gets the glory while the other 7 or 8 live in his shadow. But if you took one of those 7 or 8 out, that one rider may not be on the top step or on the podium. So how can you really answer that question?

Q: Fair enough, but you have to recognize that Andreas Klöden has had a stellar start to the season.

JB: Oh, most definitely. Klödi has been phenomenal. And other than some stomach issues in the Giro del Trentino, he's been healthy. I think since Klödi's been on my team (2008), he's always come down with some illness that's affected his Spring campaign. I remember our first training camp in New Mexico. We didn't see him for the first couple days because he was so sick. So it's good seeing him stay healthy and ride to his potential. I hope he continues tearing up the road.

Q: Then you have guys like Sergent, Cardoso and Hermans that have tasted victory.

JB: The young guys are good!! I'm really happy with the mix of young and old. Maybe I shouldn't call them old. The more veteran riders. That's better. The veteran riders have also been good with mentoring. As important as Sports Directors are, you learn the most from the other riders. That's a trait I really look for when hiring riders. Will they be good role models for the younger riders? Will they pass on the knowledge of how to be a true professional?

Q: Was it hard that you weren't allowed in the race car for the first two months of the season?

JB: Well it actually wasn't the first two months of the season. If it were the first two, then it would have been January and February like Barredo's suspension. Still doesn't make sense to me, but it's the UCI. But getting to your actual question. Yes, it was hard. And believe it or not, I think I was busier than ever. Regardless if I'm at a race or not, I'm still responsible for approximately 70 people. So there's a whole management role that goes beyond the races. And February and March seemed to have a different meeting every week. So very busy, but I'm glad to be back.

Q; What's the latest with the race radio situation?

JB: Unfortunately, nothing really to report back on at the moment. It's been the most frustrating situation for me. I'm not going to recount all the arguments in favor that MANY MANY people have put forth. I think we've seen that the UCI's arguments are invalid. With or without radios, the quality of racing hasn't differed. We will not give up this fight.

Q: Why not more situations like Flanders where the television broadcasters had access to everyone's car?

JB: That's exactly what we want. People loved having the opportunity to see what was going on in the car. Bjarne Riis' reaction to the victory - People loved seeing that and the many in car race conversations taking place. Now you wouldn't get to normally see that. That's what we want for every race! That's how you make the race more interesting. You find new ways and features. You don't take away the radios.

Q: What are some of your thoughts on the Spring Classics season?

JB: One - Gilbert - Incredible, amazing, magnificent. Two - The two winners from Flanders and Paris-Roubaix were not on the "Favorites" lists. And yes, I'll also add those races were extremely exciting, unpredictable and WITH race radios. And three - The Belgians just dominated.

Q: Were you disappointed with Team RadioShack's performance in the One-Day Classics?

JB: Well to be disappointed, your expectations have to go unmet. I, of course, would have like to have done better in the One-Day Classics, but I also have to realize that we're not really designed to be a true classics team. We have some good one day riders, but let's be realistic, the team strength lies in stage racing. So I don't think disappointment is really an accurate word. And not to forget, Rasta had a great Paris-Roubaix. Just missed out on the podium!

Q: Switching subjects briefly - Allan Davis came out in the media saying that the Astana management is now against him. I think you are familiar with this.

JB: Oh yes, and unfortunately all too well. I really feel bad for Allan because he's not only a great rider, he's a great person. Super friendly, hard worker, team player. But I can't say I'm surprised with the situation. I just hope they are still paying him. Some riders and staff from the 2009 team are still unpaid. Yes, two years later! It's really unbelievable.

Q: Alberto Contador. You know him really well. Good decision to race the Giro and then the Tour, with the intent to win both.

JB: Well if one rider can pull it off, it's Alberto. He's a super, super talented rider, very determined, hard working, strong mentally. A true champion. When he shows up to a race, he shows up to win. I guess we'll see if it it's a good decision, but I certainly don't doubt that he can win both.

Q: What do you think of this year's Giro route?

JB: Another tough one. Very Giro like. If you compare just the routes of all the three Grand Tours, it's probably the hardest one. Stage 13, 14, 15 with mountain finishes on Grossglockner, Zoncolan, Gardeccia/Val id Fassa. Just wow. It will be a spectacle that you won't want to miss.

Q: What do you think of having a final TT in Milano?

JB: It's got pros and cons. In one way, it can be more exciting, especially if the race is close. You can't really relax. In another way, the riders don't have that nice ceremonial stage where the jersey winners can really enjoy and reflect back on the three week journey. It will be an intense and exciting day as riders will have to defend their podium places.

Q: What about RadioShack. What are the objectives for the Giro?

JB: Well we don't have one of the favorites, which takes the pressure off. Tiago will be our GC leader. He's young and this is his first Grand Tour, but he's extremely talented and proven that he deserves the opportunity. Last year he finished seven out of ten times in the overall top ten of a stage race and this year hasn't missed a top ten. So our goal is for him to be in the top ten. It will be his hardest challenge yet, but I think he's ready for it and we've surrounded him with a good team. We'll see how it goes. There really isn't any pressure on him. For the team as a whole, we want to animate the race and try to get some stage wins.

Q: You go to the race with a mix of young and veterans, as you call them.

JB: Yes, riders like the two Robbies and Popo. They've been there before and will really be looked upon to help some of the younger guys. Then we have some guys like Fumy and Cardoso, who have a little Grand Tour experience. And then a bunch of first timers. So it's a good mix and hopefully a good experience for all.

Giro d'Italia Team RadioShack Roster (sync with your personal digital calendar for free)

Q: We saw a picture where Jason McCartney was doing the Giro recon.

JB: He's on the California roster now. Riders' schedules are constantly changing. Just the nature of the job!

Q: And California, the main objective is to be on the top step of the podium?

JB: Yes, as always. That's a very important race for this team. We're an American registered team. Our biggest sponsors are American. So it's a race important to our sponsors and therefore important to the team. We'll go with a strong group and race to win. It won't be easy though! Each year the race route gets harder and the teams are sending better riders. We've won it 3 out of 5 times and hopefully we'll make it 4 out of 6.

Q: The SRAM Tour of Gila finished last week and the U23 Trek LIVESTRONG Team performed very well. Axel Merckx has done a really nice job with the team.

JB: No. He's done an amazing job. The boys he's had on the team the past few years are now some of the most highly recruited riders by all the top teams. He's a great director and really works hard in developing these riders. They are some of the best prepared riders when they enter the pro peleton and that's a direct reflection of Axel's work. We're lucky to have him.

Q: What's the status for next year's team?

JB: Well the guys in Texas are talking with RadioShack. Capital Sports & Entertainment has been handling the sponsorship relationships the last two years.
I definitely would like to continue directing and am open to all possibilities of partnership.

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