Post-Giro d'Italia 2011

Post-Giro d'Italia 2011

Q: Johan, if we believe some of the rumors on the internet, you have disappeared from the world. People say you left Italy without packing.

JB: I got a good laugh from that one, but it's not funny when people start believing that. My trip to Dubai was planned well in advance. It just so happens that the next day our trucks and hotel were searched and it was noted that I left. As reported, there was nothing ... the same as in past years. Period.

Q: This is the final weekend of the Giro and it seems to have not been a big success for RadioShack.

JB: Yes, I need to give an honest assessment of our performance.

We started out very well with a second place TTT finish. I think we surprised a lot of people. The team really came together, worked very smoothly, took the right lines and really pushed themselves . Rovny crashed in the first corner and who knows - maybe if that didn't happen we could have won that first stage. But that's cycling. Congrats to HTC Highroad because they also rode a great TTT.

The boys were extremely motivated coming out of the TTT. We were in a good position and everyone was focused on a top ten GC finish for Tiago. Unfortunately, the reality of achieving that goal ended in that first week. Tiago was in a couple crashes and lost quite a bit of time, especially during the Strade Bianche stage. But beyond the crashes, he made some beginner errors. It was his first three week race and he expended a lot of energy in stages where it's better to stay quiet. It's a very big transition from a week long race to a three week race and Tiago found that out. It's not a criticism of him; it's just the nature of having experience in these situations. If there is one thing I want Tiago to take away from the Giro, it's the experience. He's young, he'll learn from it and he'll be better next time. He's still a great talent and we have not lost confidence in him.

Q: After the top ten GC was no longer a reality, what was the plan?

JB: We needed to change our goals and focus. We had to animate the race and see if we could get a stage win or two. Our veteran Popo really led the charge for us and was in a number of breakaways. Unfortunately they didn't stay away, but he is leading in the Fuga Pinarello, which is the prize awarded to an attacking rider, namely the rider who has accrued the highest number of breakaway kilometers. So I think that shows that our effort was there. Philip Deignan also did a nice job and was quite active.

We lost Robbie McEwen early in the race on the stage to Etna and to be quite honest, the Giro wasn't a race for the sprinters. We also saw this when Cav left the race quite early on.

Q: And your prediction of Alberto winning seems to be right?

JB: Well it's not a shock or major revelation. He's an excellent rider, a true champion and was the favorite. It was a very hard route and Alberto really showed he was superior. The Tour will bring tougher competition and it will be interesting to see how he recovers from the Giro.

Q: Before we look towards the Tour, let's focus on the success in California.

JB: Yes! What a performance by the entire team. Extremely extremely proud. It was an important race for our team. Being American based and with our major sponsors being American, we made it our main goal of the season. Every single one of our riders came to the race focused, determined and in great condition. And really performed. You had a guy like Matthew Busche who really turned heads and had people saying "wow, who is that kid." I think even Chris and Levi said "wow" a few times about him. It would have been nice to win the time-trial, but we really can't complain. We won the two mountain stages, the overall with an exceptional Chris and 2nd place with Levi. And in my opinion, judging by the way we controlled and dominated the race, we were also the best team, even though we didn't technically win that competition.

Q: Any news on plans for 2012?

JB: We're working on it. We can't deny that the "witch hunt" after Lance Armstrong does not do a lot of good for our sport. It's very sad to see that it's overshadowing the success that Chris and Team RadioShack had in California and Alberto is having in the Giro. Now there is focus on the 2001 Tour de Suisse. The UCI and Suisse lab have already declared that nothing is wrong. I do not waste my time. I do not worry. The only thing I focus on is the team, our riders, staff, sponsors, fans and of course, my family.

Q: After California, your focus now points to the Tour.

JB: Yes, first we have the Skoda Tour of Luxembourg and then the two traditional tune-ups to the Tour - the Dauphine and Tour de Suisse. We'll then go to the Tour with four protected riders - Andreas Kloden, Chris Horner, Levi Leipheimer and Jani Brajkovic. Obviously, Alberto and Andy are the two favorites and they will have the bulk of the pressure. We'll have four cards to play, supported by a strong team and we'll see how things go during the race. I know that each of those four guys I mentioned are team players and depending on the situation, they will have no problem supporting the rider that puts the team in the best position for success.

Q: Who else is on the team?

JB: Still a bit too early. The Dauphine and Suisse are important races for determining the best team in July. The other potential riders are Hunter, Irizar, Lequatre, McCartney, McEwen, Muravyev, Paulinho, Popovych, Rast, Rosseler and Zubeldia. It's a great list to choose from. A tough decision, but with that group of riders, we know that each one will really have to earn their spot!

Q: Anything else you'd like to say.

JB: Yes, first thank you to the fans in Italy and California. The support for the team has been great. Also, I want to remind people to continue to keep the memories of both Wouter and Xavi alive. It's been a tragic month for cycling and let us not only celebrate our great sport, but also honor those who are no longer with us.


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