Posted by Editor on 06/12/02
Yesterday we finally had a chance to talk on the telephone with Mark Walters, winner of the USPro Championship in Philadelphia on Sunday.
CC - Mark, we kept hearing about Michael (Barry) all race, how active he was, but very little about you until right at the end, when you seemingly came out of nowhere and won.
MW - (laughs) I was there the whole time, I was covering attacks, hoping to set up Kirk (O'Bee, Navigators' sprinter). I just covered the right move at the end.
CC - How did that final break develop?
MW - They (Danny Pate and Chann McRae) got away first. No one was covering it, so I attacked and no one came with me. Chann and I both played the teammate card - he was waiting for George (Hincapie) and I was waiting for Kirk, so Danny had to pull the whole time. I was hoping Kirk would cover, since he is the better sprinter and we wanted an American rider up there, but he told me he was getting tired.
CC - What about the sprint, what was your plan once it looked like you guys would stay away?
MW - I let Chann start it around 150 to 200 metres and then I came around in the last 30-40 metres. I thought that I could take him, but at the end of such a long race you don't know what you will have left in your legs.
CC - So how did the race develop leading up to the final break?
MW - In the last 3 laps it started whittling down, and a lot of riders were shed. The last time up Manayunk (Wall - the major climb) it dropped down to the final group of contenders. Postal was the main team, they had a lot of guys at the front and were really controlling stuff. Everyone on the team had a role, and I was designated to work later in the race (for Kirk). Kirk was in a break, and I was covering stuff, but nothing was getting away until the end. Mike (Barry) was awesome, it's unbelievable how strong he is right now.
CC - How big is this win, for you and the team?
MW - I can hardly believe it. This is the one, this is my best result ever. My role on the team is to be consistent, but I often have to sacrifice for the team, so I don't get to be (the winner). As a member of a U.S.-based team this is the biggest one we can win. As an underdog team it is even more special, that we were able to handle everything thrown at us. There has been more hype then I expected - the New York Times and USA Today both had stories.
CC - Was this (the race) a primary goal for you, or just part of the build up for the Commonwealth Games?
MW - I did some build up for this, but I am also using it to continue to build for the Games. My objectives this season were USPro, Commonwealth Games, to go back and do better at the Worlds, and to win at San Francisco (Grand Prix). (Mark works with Mirek Mazur as his coach)
CC - Someone pointed out on the Forums that if you had taken out U.S. citizenship you could have been the champion. What about that - any plans to become American?
MW - Ah the Forums . . . I am Canadian, regardless of where I live. I feel very strongly about that and it will not change.
CC - Thanks Mark, see you at Beauce next week.
We also have some more photos of Mark:
During the race
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