January 27/09 6:00 am - Cody Campbell Interview
Posted by Editor on 01/27/09
Last fall, first year Espoir Cody Campbell of Vancouver received the sort of telephone call that usually only occurs in daydreams or movies. Axel Merckx called him up to discuss joining the Trek-Livestrong Pro Continental team he was putting together at the behest of none other than Lance Armstrong.
"Axel lives in BC, and he's the director of the team, and he wanted a BC rider on the team. I guess he got in contact with Cycling BC and I was one of the names they gave him. His call was definitely a bit of a shock!"
Campbell is coming off a strong final year as a Junior - albeit one marred by an injury. After strong results in France on a National project (6th, Montivilliers Junior Challenge and 2nd, St Hilaire), he won the Junior time trial title at the Road Nationals and was fifth in the road race. However, just before Junior Worlds in South Africa, Cody broke his arm and was unable to race. He came back at the end of August to win two titles at the Track Nationals (Individual and Team Pursuits), plus a bronze medal in the Points Race.
"We talked for a few weeks [early in the Fall], and he said he was interested [in having Cody on the team], but that he couldn't commit. Then, in November he came back and offered me a contract."
While the team has been designed primarily to support the young superstar Taylor Phinney, Cody says "Axel wanted some young guys that he could develop over a few years." Campbell, along with Phinney and Taylor Kuphaldt, are the youngest members of the squad at 18 years.
Back row l to r: Taylor Phinney, Guy East, Ben King, Bjorn Selander, Axel Merckx.
Front row l to r: Ryohei Komori, Cody Campbell, Taylor Kuphaldt and Ryan Baumann
"Some of the older guys, at 20 or 21, have a bit of experience, so we'll be looking to them. Part of Lance's comeback was that he wanted to sponsor an Espoir team. He thought that there should be a place where we can develop between Junior and full on pro ranks."
The team has been registered as a UCI Continental squad, and the riders receive full, professional support, including a salary. Campbell has a two year contract.
Cody's role as one of the younger riders? "It's hard to say, because we don't have any set leaders; we'll be working for the strongest guy. My goal is to learn a lot. This is the first year that I will have an opportunity to big races like we are going to be doing, so I will just get out there, do my job, and do it well. There is no pressure [on me] for results this year."
There has been one camp so far in Austin, Texas, "more to meet the guys, meet the staff, that sort of thing." Armstrong was not at that camp, "he was in Australia for the Tour Down Under, but he should be at the next one."
The team will begin its season in Mexico at the Vuelta Mexico Telmex in March, and then "a lot of races in the States, including Redlands, and then in May we go to Europe."
In Europe, the team is scheduled to race La Route de Sud Luxembourg, the Espoir Paris-Roubaix and "we are trying to get into one or two larger stage races."
Will the team come to Canada, and maybe race in, say, Tour de Beauce? "I don't think it is on the plan for the team to come to Canada this year. I'll be doing some races on my own - like Nationals - but we are going to race mainly in the U.S."
Campbell will also be able to continue his development on the track, with the encouragement of the team.
"I'll definitely be doing track. I don't know how much, but the team is really supportive because there are a few of us who do track [Phinney and Jesse Sergent, to name two]."
"This is definitely the biggest thing I've ever been a part of."