What was your motivation for the move to Quick Step?
It has been in the works for almost a year now. I knew I wanted to keep racing but I also knew I needed a change. One of the teams that I was looking at and wanted to be a part of was HTC. Fast forward to about June, and Quick Step said they were interested. They contacted my agent, and at the time I had the same reaction everyone else does thats a Classics team, how would I fit in? Not long after that Mike (Sinyard) called me and said that they (Specialized) were going to come back to Quick Step and what the plan was with the structure of the team. They were building a stage race, time trial side of the team with the HTC riders coming like Tony Martin. It was something I could fit into and they were interested seemed like a pretty easy decision.
At the time of your decision were you aware of the pending merger of RadioShack and Leopard-Trek?
No. I am not surprised that it happened. With hindsight being 20/20 I can piece it all together. I could feel during the Tour that something was going to happen, but I had already decided that I was going to look around look at my options.
Youre moving from an American squad to a Belgian team what differences in team structure are you anticipating?
RadioShack is a Belgian team too. (laughing) Its a American mainly because, RadioShack, Nissan USA and Trek. Of course when we are over there doing to the Tour de France, it is actually quite Belgian the environment, because the staff is Belgian. Quick Step is a true Belgian team, it is registered in Belgium with Belgian sponsors. For myself it is not that big of a change.
With Quick Step based in Belgium and the focus being in Europe, will you still be attending U.S. races like the Tour of California and the US Pro Cycling Challenge?
I will be doing all the same races and I will have all the same goals. California, Utah, and Colorado are the most important races in the U.S., then the Tour de France and other races in Europe that I use mainly as preparation for the other events.
Speaking of the Tour de France, this past year didnt go as planned, yet you found a great deal of success in the shorter week long races. Any change in focus moving forward?
I am still going to go do my best at the Tour de France. I havent had luck there in three years, but I can still ride a good classification at the Tour and I havent given up hope on that. Its just if you get a little bit sick or crash four times like I did last year, you arent going to be your best, you are going to be 90-percent and if your not 100-percent then you cant compete. If I have the form that I had in Switzerland or Colorado then I can be there be amongst the best.
Looking at the Quick Step roster, the leadership roles for the Tour dont appear as defined as they were at RadioShack. How will this effect the way the team approaches the race?
We will have different objectives. Tom (Boonen) will be able to focus on sprints and the green jersey, guys like Chavanel will be going in the breakaways, possibly one that gets him the yellow jersey. Tony Martin is focusing on the time trials. It will be more balanced. A team like RadioShack is very focused on one thing and that is the general classification. The team (Quick Step) will tackle the race on all fronts.