December 29/06 4:30 am - Seamus McGrath Interview
Posted by Editor on 12/29/06
Seamus McGrath Interview
Two days ago, Canadian mountain bike pro Seamus McGrath dropped us a line to let us know that he had inked a deal with the Rocky Mountain-Business Objects team (see Daily News December 27/06 2:15 pm EST). McGrath was without a team this past season, after Haro dropped its sponsorship of cross-country competition, and he rode in national team colours for the season (along with some support from Felt Bicycles). We spoke with Seamus earlier today from his home on Vancouver Island.
CC - You've been getting so much snow out there lately - are you thinking maybe of moving back to Ontario?
SM - Yeah, maybe there'll be a mass exodus out there of the national team to train in the winter! A couple of weeks ago it was crazy out here, maybe 80 centimetres of snow. But, no I'm living an hour north of Victoria, near Duncan, and it's an amazing place to train.
CC - This must be a big relief to get back on a team?
SM - Yeah, last year, that was it, when Haro dissolved the cross-country team I was left high and dry. I was looking all fall (of 2005), but the teams were full, there weren't any spots. Luckily for me the national team put together a good program, but I only raced 8 or so times.
CC - How did the new team agreement come about - was it you approaching Rocky or them approaching you?
SM - I started talking with Lesley (Tomlinson, the team director) throughout the summer, and we got into it more heavily at the Worlds, so by October it was pretty much done. They had made a solid commitment verbally, so then it was a matter of putting pen to paper and getting it all sorted out, which happened in the last few weeks.
CC - Were there any other teams you talked with?
SM - Felt offered a bigger deal, including more money, but there was no team support. I would have to get to races by myself, get my own mechanic, and I didn't want to do that again (like this year), not when I'm doing a full schedule.
CC - If you hadn't gotten a full team ride, would that have meant retiring?
SM - At the beginning of this year I said to myself that I can only do this for one year. For 10 years I have been lucky enough to do this as a career, but if I didn't find something I would have had to call it quits.
CC - Is it strictly a mountain bike deal? What about road racing - you've done some good sized road races in the past, like Beauce?
SM - This is strictly a mountain bike deal; I'd like to do some road racing, but I'll have to look at the schedule and see what fits.
CC - So what is your schedule going to be like?
SM - I'll be doing the full World Cup circuit, a couple of Norbas, Sea Otter. They (Rocky Mountain-Business Objects) are into 7 day stage races, so probably a couple of those - I did TransRockies this year and had a good time (along with Andreas Hestler, McGrath won TransRockies). Possibly the new Seven race (on Vancouver Island), TranRockies, and maybe TransAlpes.
CC - This year (2006) you didn't race very much, so how is it going to be to go up to so much more racing?
SM - Normally, in the past I did quite a few races, but this year I only did 7 or 8. But, really it was a good thing after the last Olympics; to tone it down a bit and now build up again to a full plate of racing. And I was coming back from a broken back from the fall before in October (from a car accident).
CC - So the Olympics in 2008, that's behind everything?
SM - Yeah, definitely. You always want to do your best performance in every race, but but it is always in the back of your mind. That's why it is so nice to sign a two year deal, so I can focus on that.
CC - The Canadian men aren't as dominant as they were back in the early 2000's - is it a concern about Olympics spots for Canada?
SM - Well, Roland (Green) was a phenomenon - double world champion, he won everything. Sure, I think Max (Plaxton) can step it up, but I don't think we'll see the Canadian men dominating like Roland. But I think we can be top five in the world for sure.
The points are something we think about for sure. The direction comes down from the CCA (Canadian Cycling Association); they keep track of how (Canada) is doing, and let us know when we need to have someone at races. That is why we are going to the Pan American championships in March (Villa de la Angostura, in Argentina). There will be three men there - Max, Geoff (Kabush) and myself - because it is maximum points. Also, most of us are doing all the World Cups. So, I think two spots for the Olympics is pretty solid, but thee spots in Beijing is not going to happen unless someone starts winning everything.