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By Bryan Jew, VeloNews Senior Writer
In the VeloNews road season preview issue (February 5, 2001), we inadvertently left Massachusetts’s Kevin Monahan off of the 7-Up-Colorado Cyclist team roster, and we heard about it quickly from some of our readers. We caught up with the entire team on Thursday at its Boulder, Colorado, training camp. Six inches of new snow on the ground and temperatures in the teens put a damper on the festivities. “This sucks,” said newcomer Dave McCook. “I didn’t come here to ski.”
The team made plans for a snowshoe excursion on Friday, but Thursday was a day for indoor training, testing and team meetings. We had a chance to catch up with some of the riders, and had the following conversation with Monahan.
VeloNews: So you’re still on the team?
Kevin Monahan: Yeah, still on the team.
VN: Well, what happened there?
KM [laughing]: Let me ask you…
VN: So you heard a lot about that?
KM: Yeah, I got a lot of e-mails, but my friend Rich got on it pretty quick.
VN: It seems like you’ve got a big following back east.
KM: A little bit, yeah. I think there’s some guys that maybe respect the way I came up a little bit, baby steps, on my own. In my car. 35,000 miles a year.
VN: When was that time period?
KM: It was ’97-98 was most of the time I was driving around, but by ’99 I was getting paid a little more so I started flying more, driving a little less.
VN: Who were you riding for at that time?
KM: I rode for Breakaway Couriers for ’97, ’98, ’99. Three years.
VN: What was the itinerary for you during those years?
KM: Oh, drive to Texas, stay in Texas for a month, do the Tour of Texas, drive home, stay home for two weeks, drive to Tour LeFleur, come back, do Twilight, Shelby. Whatever races were in the northeast back home. Go to Ohio, drive home. Go back to Ohio. I think I probably drove my car to Ohio three times that year [in 1997].
VN: How long is that trip?
KM: Ohio’s only 10 hours. Mississippi’s 24 hours. So is Texas. Those are long, long drives.
VN: What’s the worst road trip story that you have?
KM: The worst. Oh man. It was probably last year [laughing]. When you’re on your own and you’re in your car, it’s no big deal. On Breakaway, we probably had a bunch of arguments just because we spent too long … we were all good friends, and we spent too long in the car together, going from this race to that race, all the time. But last year we had a couple of flops, that me, Oscar and Juan [the Piñeda brothers] all happened to be part of. I think in Texas we spent five guys to a room for a couple of nights, before and during Austin. The whole town is packed for the Ride for the Roses, and we didn’t make pre-arrangements. Oh man, this place we were about to check into in Altoona was just a nightmare. Waterbeds and mirrors on the ceiling … there were smoking ashes in the sheets … but they did have Pac-Man.
VN: The life of a pro.
KM: Yeah, that was pretty funny. That only happened twice all last year, but me, Oscar and Juan were there for all of them.
VN: What are you looking forward to for this year?
KM: I’m looking forward to the fact that the team’s smaller and tighter. You know, certainly the guys that are on the team this year are a lot more together in their heads than last year. And I think we have a much stronger team with both John [Lieswyn] and Clark [Sheehan], and a much faster team with me and Dave [McCook] and the Piñedas. I think Charles [Dionne] is going to be the fifth element of speed. I don’t know where he’s going to fit in yet but we’ll figure it out soon enough I’m sure.
VN: I here he’s flying right now.
KM: I tell you, for a guy who hasn’t ridden his bike since October, he’s going good. All that cross-country skiing keeps you fit.
… So I’m just looking forward to the fact that the team’s smaller, stronger, more organized. Even already it’s more organized. I think I’ve got more concrete goals than I had last year going in. I didn’t really know what the team expected of me, and what to expect of myself. In my years as an amateur I had done what I thought was every race on the circuit, but I still hadn’t done the UCI races and that was a whole new thing for me.
VN: You say you have concrete goals for this year, what are some of those?
KM: I have goals physiologically. I want to hit certain watts and certain thresholds by certain dates. And then the team certainly wants me to perform well in Austin and Shelby and Twilight, which are my steak-and-potato races, those are my learned trade. But Philly week, you know, that is the only week of bicycle racing in America the way it really should be. Not to discount other promoters, other promoters make bike racing in America happen, but Philly is it. Philly is the biggest race, Philly week is the biggest week. You’re gonna get wins along the way as long as you’re motivated and ready, physically and mentally, 100 percent for Trenton and Philly. For me it’s Trenton and Philly. You know, for me, 21st at Philly last year, which is the cutoff for the VeloNews’s listings. If you didn’t get top 20, you didn’t do the race. But I think 21st for my first year there, I was impressed with myself, although 21st in any race is neither here nor there.
VN: You’ve got to give us a break, we’ve got space considerations …
KM [laughing again]: Yeah, I know. And don’t ever put more than 10 guys on a roster ….
VN: Talking to John Lieswyn, he thinks that this team has a good chance to be the best domestic team out there.
KM: I think so. To be honest, if Mercury has all their best guys out there, they’re Mercury, they’re gonna do it again. But their domestic squad isn’t going to be as powerful as it was last year. And I think we’re gonna take our shots with the rest of the teams. Last year we had a lot of pre-season hype with this team, and I don’t think there’s as much going into this year, but I think we made some really key off-season moves, and I’m really psyched. My role is going to be a little bit different with Dave in the picture, but for me, it frees me up to race more. And I’m psyched about that. And I’m psyched that if Dave’s on good form, I’m there to take him to the line. I’ve known that that’s probably what I do best for a long time.
VN: What’s it like back home right now?
KM: Worse than this. They got 20 inches on Monday and Tuesday. It’s supposedly sunny and nice right now, but 20 inches is 20 inches.