It really makes a big difference if Im racing against guys my size and my build, versus racing against guys like Gilbert and Sagan. Every time we come around the corner these guys have so much more power than I have that Im beyond my max. Im really in the red every time were coming out of the corners at Amstel Gold and Lige, versus these bigger guys who are at 90 percent.
Paris-Roubaix is a great race to watch on TV and have a bag of chips in front of me, but I dont want to have a bike in front of me. Ill be on the couch for that one.
The team basically wants us to turn [Oprah-Lance] questions over to them, so they asked us to keep all our interviews focused on the new team and the races were doing. Theyd rather keep everything positive for the new sponsors weve got coming in and of course the current ones. At training camp, they basically said, hey, we want to focus on the beginning of the season and keep everything positive. I understand why youre asking the question, because its big news, but in the sport in general all the teams want to focus on keeping their sponsors happy and basically keeping their sponsors in the sport.
I absolutely want to ride the Tour again.
Nibali is kind of close to where the two Sky riders are, but clearly he wasnt on the same kind of fitness as those two. I read all the same papers and stuff you do, where they talk about, well, Nibali lost only X number of minutes and that was only in the time trial. But maybe the only reason why he lost it in the time trial is that the two Sky guys didnt have to attack him. If youre three minutes up on the guy already, youre not going to attack him on the last climb because you dont have to. You just sit on him and win the stage. So when I read those kind of comments, I read that as absolutely nothing. If Wiggins were on the same time or 30 seconds behind Nibali, maybe hed drop him on the next climb, but we never got to see that because he wasnt behind. Itll be interesting to see if Nibali can come up that extra level. Hes still a bit behind.
This spring Ill do Strade-Bianche, Tirreno, Cataulyna, Basque Country, maybe a week off the bike, then four weeks training at home before Cali. Normally I come back after Basque Country and take a week off the bike, a week easy, then three solid weeks for California.
Clearly you saw last year that Froome and Wiggins were riding on very high form. But without Alberto there, its difficult to see if theyre on the same level. Andys ridden on the same level, too, so if Andy can find his form to come back, youre going to see him battling again.
Theres a good climb not too far from my house in San Diego. Its not very long. But it comes at the end of the ride so its a good test to see what kind of fitness you got. If youre at the end of a five-hour ride and you can go up the climb good, then you know youre pretty fit. If you hit the climb and you dont feel like going up it good, then you know you need a little more training.
In the Contador era no one has given Alberto a run for his money as Andy did the year Contador tested positive. So its going to be interesting to see if we can get a really strong four- or five-way battle going on. We could see a really exciting Tour.
I didnt do any cyclocross this year because I was just too busy skate skiing, snowmobiling, taking kids to elementary school, middle school, high school. In the past, just when Id start to get a couple little skills there in the dirt the season would be over. Id start with a lot of form and little skill, and about midway through the season Id start to get even with fitness and skills, then Id have absolutely no skills, and more skills than fitness, but thats not really saying much.
Man, Corsica is a hard island. I went there to do Critrium International and they are very difficult roadsslow and up and down a lot, but youre not really climbing. And there could be some wind out there too. It could make for a few interesting days at the start of the Tour de France.
Ive been training here in San Diego and Ill be here till the end of the month. Then I fly over to Italy and start off with Tirreno-Adriatico. Maybe Ill do the race right before, the white sands one, the one where you race on the white dirt. Strade-Bianche. That would be something a little different for me, but I think Id be all right. Fabian won last year. The finish has a nice little chicane or something. It could open up the legs for Tirreno.
Id like to go good at Tirreno again. Tirreno and Paris-Nice are the first big WorldTour races of the year. I know you have the Tour Down Under and stuff, but the European season really starts with Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico. They kind of set up the whole rest of the season. If you go good there, youre not stressing so much afterwards.
I like doing Lige-Bastogne-Lige but the one-day races are just too difficult for me. Ive gone top 10 at Lige and I remember being within a few kilometers to go in the front group with a chance to win it. But its really difficult for mebecause of my size, everybodys fresh, everybodys got legs.
I dont think I have a TT problem. Last year at Tirreno I tore a tendon behind my knee. I started to have problems with it on the big mountain stage and it only got worse by the last circuit road stage. Nobody noticed it, but we were kind of hiding it a little bit because of course you dont need to let that out any sooner. But in actuality it wouldnt have mattered much. It wasnt like the time trial was going to go any slower than it went. If youre hurt or not hurt theyre still going to race 100 percent. Had the TT been a normal road stage I dont think I could have finished the race, but the TT was only eight or nine kilometers. It didnt make a whole lot of sense to not do it. If you do it with one and a half legs, or one leg, youre still going to go top three.
I dont see retirement at the end of this year. It seems realistic to do three or four more years.
California is a big goal again this year, and thats why I want to start the season really strong. Its hard to predict going into Tirreno whether youre going really good, but Im going to try. The problem is, its the first race of the season so its difficult to judge it. Certainly Im not trying to be fit three weeks before Tirreno starts, because its just too soon. Can I arrive at Tirreno 100 percent? Thatd be great, but if Im a little bit under, that just means for the races afterwards I arrive 100 percent. So either the form comes at Tirreno or Catalunya or the Basque Country. But I plan to ride at Tirreno really good, so hopefully it works out.
I dont even know if there are any pros in San Diego besides myself. I got a roommate here from team Jelly Belly, Sean Mazich, who stays at my place all the time. So I train with him.
Worlds is late in the season, but from everything I understand its a very good course. Normally weve talked about the one-day races being difficult on me, but given the steepness of the climb, its supposed to be really good and could fit my style of riding very nicely. And the difference with worlds is you just never have big accelerations. Its not like at Amstel Gold where youre coming out of 50, 70 corners at 100 percent. Worlds is never like that. Its usually a circuit and its really fast and flows nice. The climb should be steep enough to be ideal for me and hurt the bigger guys, but there arent the stop-and-go accelerations.
Fans need to understand that when you come to a stage race the back-to-back racing really takes its toll and takes the bigger guys out of the picture. When you got a rider like Philippe Gilbert, whos really strong in these one-day, shorter-climb stages, you take him into a grand tour and after two or three big mountain stages, thats it, hes lost the power.
I dont download any of my power files or anything myself. My wife, Megan, takes care of all the computer work.
Boy, its going to be hard for Sky to pull off the Giro-Tour double. Its possible to do both, but its not like they have 18 riders who are all that strong at the grand tour level. Certainly the nine at the Tour were really strong, but I dont think theyve got another nine in reserve. Itll be interesting to see if they can ride at the Giro with Wiggins, but hell probably have eight different guys than he did at the Tour the year before.
Dont take this the wrong way, but youre already bringing 100 percent motivation to the Tour de France, so if you want to ride the Tour and you need any more motivation, I dont think its going to come just because its the 100th edition. It might be easier to remember if you won a stage and afterward you tell everyone you won a stage in the 100th edition. But if you need extra motivation, you should probably retire or find an alternate job.
Read a Q&A with Chris Horner about the Tour of California in the May issue of peloton magazine.
You can follow Daniel at twitter.com/cyclingreporter