COPENHAGEN (VN) — Svein Tuft watched much of the men’s elite time trial Wednesday from the confines of the “hot seat” after posting an early fast time. The Canadian fell short of the podium, but 13th was good enough to assure Canada two start positions in next year’s London Olympic Games.
Tuft will close out his 2011 season with Sunday’s elite men’s road race and then take a short break before preparing for his return to the international peloton with a deal to join GreenEdge for 2012.
VeloNews caught up with Tuft after Wednesday’s race; here’s what he had to say about Pegasus, GreenEdge and his first European road win earlier this season:
Q.Svein, talk about your TT ride, were you expecting medals, top-10?
A. It’s one of those things, this time of the year, you never know what you’re going to get. I was hoping for a good day. For myself, I gave it everything I had. I am pretty content with that. It wasn’t a super ride. I was hoping to have a good day, because the course really suited me.
Q.What did you like about the course? It was quite technical and very windy, is that better for you?
A. The harder, windy, hard days like this suit me. You really need to say focused on a course like this and have no bobble in your concentration. It takes a lot of mental energy to stay on track for something like that. The winner today will be bang-on. Technically, I lost my edge a bit. My second lap was not as good. I was flailing toward the last 10km. The power was still good, but the sharpness was not there. When you’re behind a little bit, you need to get up back to top speed, but I was just bogging down.
Q. How was the travel back to Europe from the Canadian races?
A. It’s always weird, coming to Europe, sometimes it’s great, the transition can be easy. This time, it took me a little while. That’s life. I wouldn’t say that’s the reason why. I should be fine, because I’ve been sleeping a lot.
Q.Talk about your season racing with SpiderTech, how was that experience racing with a Canadian-backed team?
A. It was great to ride with them because of what happened with Pegasus. I signed with them at end of last year and that whole team blew up in December. I was really fortunate to have SpiderTech there to take me in and they really saved me. It was a real bonus of a season, because I got to race with a Canadian team with all my buddies. I had a great time.
Q. So SpiderTech was a good ending to a bad story with Pegasus for you?
A. A lot of guys got screwed on the Pegasus deal. I feel fortunate that SpiderTech was there to save me.
Q.GreenEdge is another Australian team, but you do not expect the same thing to happen, do you?
A. It sounds ironic, but I think it’s a bit of a different story. There’s no guesswork with these GreenEdge guys. They’ve done everything to make sure that the program is going to be top-notch. Pegasus didn’t have anything, it was just talk.
Q. How big was your European victory for you and the team at the GP Stad Zottegem in August?
A. That was a big deal for the team. I think everyone was on-point. For a team coming to a race for that first kind of transition year in Europe, it’s always difficult to be super-competitive and win races. It was a really good indicator, of how we had developed to a point to where we can now win races. I hope they keep growing as a team and racing like that. All the guys are getting so much stronger in their first real year in Europe. From there, it just gets better and better.
Q.That was your first road win in Europe, right?
A. Yeah, it’s always been time trials for me. I made a late attack and held it off. I was pretty proud of that. With my style of racing, I don’t have many opportunities. I am not a sprinter, not a climber, more just suffering away. I got to take those chances when they come.
Q.Have you talked about what kind of role you will have next year at GreenEdge?
A. I’ve known Whitey (DS Matt White) for a long time from when we were at Garmin. He knows me really well, knows my abilities. I think I will have a similar program of what I was doing at Garmin, with the early classics, some one-week racing and maybe a grand tour here or there. The Eneco Tours and the later races like that are good for me.
Q. After knocking around Europe a few seasons, is there one race or event that you’d love to win?
A. A race like the Eneco Tour is one that I could win. The classics, E3 Prijs, I would love to be in the mix there, to have a crack at that again. For the bigger classics, like Paris-Roubaix, I was in the final selection two years ago, but Cancellara just motored away from everyone. I hope to be firing at all cylinders for the classics this year.
Q. It seems like with so many sprinters coming to GreenEdge, you should have your chances in the classics?
A. My abilities are to ride for someone and to be there in the finale to help one of the key guys to help. Maybe if I am going really good, I can have my own chances. All that stuff depends on the form at the time. You just have to do your job and be professional. If you come with really good form, it’s going to happen.