We caught up with Ben Day as he heads into the San Dimas Stage Race as the defending GC Champion. Ben put in a strong performance in the Glendora Mountain Time Trial to take the leaders jersey on Stage one with a time of 12:44.18 and held the leaders jersey through the final stage with the help of his strong Fly V Australia teammates. In 2009, Ben also won the Prologue at the Redlands Classic Stage Race and will be heading back to Redlands next week to see if he can repeat.
SoCalCycling.com: How has the season been going so far? How is your form heading into the early season CA races?
Ben Day: Hi everyone from SoCalCycling.com. Well, I don’t feel like the season has really started yet. For team Fly V Australia, our official racing schedule starts with the San Dimas Stage Race this weekend. I have already competed in the Callville Bay Classic out in Las Vegas – a great 4-stage race around Lake Mead which caters very well for the cyclists in the US to get a bit of racing in their legs before we get into the bulk of the season. I won the time trial out there and happily, I was surprised with my form. I have had a busy off-season with a hip operation back in October, preparations with our team for 2010, and recently I was married up in Quebec, Canada. With the Amgen Tour of California coming later this year, I have had a slow build up with a strong focus towards May. But I am in a great place. My body feels great, my team have come together like no team before, and obviously my personal life is one of bliss…..I can’t wait to get more into this year.
SoCalCycling.com: Last year you won SDSR, is it a goal to try to defend your title and go for the overall win again? Do you have any strategies in mind that you can share?
Ben Day: Winning San Dimas was an important event for myself and Fly V Australia last year. It really kick started our season and gave all of us the belief in what we could do and achieve together. We are driven by success, as is in an athlete’s nature, and being able to share these moments with each other is what has made us so close-knit. I’d love to come back and win again in San Dimas this year. My preparation has been a whole lot different and still the first day’s time trial is the pivotal piece – I am champing at the bit to get the racing underway.
SoCalCycling.com: The Fly V Australia Team just had their team training camp in Agoura Hills, were you able to preview any of the Amgen Tour of CA courses? If so what did you think of them.
Ben Day: So far team Fly V Australia has only had the opportunity to scout the Amgen Tour of California course for the final stage. If that is any indication of the rest of the stages, which as the profiles read, it is, this year’s race will be the toughest yet. That’s a brutal finish in Thousand Oaks. There will be no parade laps to see there! We have the intention to review some more of the stages after this block of racing in Cali. We have a great team for this year’s ATOC and we are all inspired to do well there.
SoCalCycling.com: Has the Fly V Australia Team gotten the official word yet that the Team has been selected to compete in Amgen Tour of California this year?
Ben Day: We are still waiting to hear from the organization whether or not Fly V Australia will receive an invite for 2010. We believe we are deserving of it – with 94 wins last year and already 12 wins on the board for this year, we have the talent in all different facets that can be a force in the race. I see success at the Amgen Tour of California as a natural progression for our team with our ultimate ambitions of being in the Pro Tour in 2012. The team we have assembled for 2010 is some of the most underrated up and coming talent in Australia and throughout the world.
SoCalCycling.com: Is the Amgen Tour of California a big goal for you where you have adjusted your training since it falls later on the calendar to have form in May, as opposed to the early season races like SDSR or Redlands?
Ben Day: I can’t imagine that the Tour of Cali is not a goal for any US based professional. The amount of exposure that the race garners is amazing. The crowd support is amazing. And the race is supported by some of the most talented cyclists in the world. It’s an amazing event to be involved in and I will be there in May with the intentions of doing a great race. So yeah, training for 2010 has been a little different, a more gradual but progressive build up and I think you will also see that the domestic calendar will be raced differently this year. SDSR and Redlands are great races in their own rights though, we will all be there trying to win them.
SoCalCycling.com: Do you like racing in California?
Ben Day: California is definitely the place to be for the first few months of the year. The climate is something of a relief for those of us traveling from the colder states. The depth of cyclists in the state and the quantity of the races are second to none in the country. I really enjoyed our training camp in Agoura Hills. The Santa Monica & Malibu mountains were absolutely gorgeous.
SoCalCycling.com: What are your favorite California and US races?
Ben Day: My favorite races down here in Cali are the ones that suit me: San Dimas, Redlands and the Tour of California. Gila, Utah, Missouri are all other races on the calendar that inspire me, not to forget the little sojourn up to Quebec for the Tour de Beauce.
SoCalCycling.com: What are your goals for the 2010 race season?
Ben Day: To lead my team to lots of victories and continue on from the progression that we have already made.
SoCalCycling.com: How is racing in Australia different than racing in the US?
Ben Day: Even with a lot of very talented cyclists in Australia, we still don’t have a professional cycling calendar that can support a full time cyclist. We have some great races – the Tour Down Under, the Herald Sun Tour, Tour of Tassie, Grafton-Inverell, Melbourne-Warnambool to name a few, but there are a few gaps in between these races. They are all hotly contested and aggressive races, with a lot of young guys proving their talent. I’d love to see it grow further, but I think first, you will see an Australian Pro Tour team! 😉
SoCalCycling.com: Do you go back to Australia every summer (our winter) to race?
Ben Day: I have lived overseas for 10 years now.whilst I love my country and everything about it, I enjoy living in the places that I have lived in. Boulder, Colorado is where I call home at the moment – I love it, it’s the perfect balance for me. I travel back to Australia at least once a year, for one to three months. Sometimes I race, sometimes I don’t, but the opportunity to see my family and great friends back there is something I cannot miss each year. That’s the one thing about this life that is a bit of a downer knowing so many great people across the world and not getting to spend quality time with them.
SoCalCycling.com: Aussies are known for being hard as nails and having a great sense of humor, do you have any fun race stories or examples of the Aussie humor & being hard core in training and racing?
Ben Day: I am sure every Aussie have their own personal little tales of how they pushed through crap to get to where they are. It’s not easy making the sacrifice to live so far away from your home each year. I have a memory like a sieve, just hang around the Fly V boys for a bit and I am sure you will see them joking around. We have a great ambience. There is a bit of ribbing going on. But so far the South Africans have dealt with it well and dished just as much back to us!
SoCalCycling.com: Do you have any fun Aussie sayings (and what do they mean for us Americans?)
Ben Day: Aussie sayings, well it’s a different language sometimes I think. There is the family rated version and then there is the “we don’t really want anyone to understand what we are trying to say” version. Get up it, you beauty, would ya have a look at that bloke, can’t climb out of a paper bag, streuth mate, you little ripper, on the rivet, come over and grab a pigsy and will chuck some grub on the barbie are little blessings of Australiana. What they mean? I’ll let you all be inventive!
SoCalCycling.com: What Pro Teams do think will be the big players on the Pro domestic scene (besides Fly V, of course)?
Ben Day: Besides Fly V? Hmmm, with United Healthcare always have their talent, Rory, Karl and Co. Colavita have some of the fastest guys in the peloton and ride really well together. Bissell are always finding a way to be competitive with Jacques-Mayne and a couple of those kiwi blokes. The Bahati Foundation have a couple of proven race winners. Honestly, there are a lot of teams all with some thoroughbreds on them, but what can you do? You can only concentrate on what you can control. I concentrate on my own form, the amalgamation of my teammates and we enter every race to win, no matter who is there.
SoCalCycling.com:: The Fly V team is now riding De Rosa bikes for 2010, how is that working out for you? Is there anything that is especially different that you see as a benefit or took some getting used to?
Ben Day: I love my DeRosa! It’s one of those bikes that are beautifully balanced and stable. It has no nervous energy at all and I am looking forward to racing with it this year. Italian styling is always great too! DeRosa was actually my dream bike when I was kid. I am no kid anymore, but I suppose I am living a dream! It’s a true European bike that will excel as the races get harder.
SoCalCycling.com: Fly V Australia has Tour de France aspirations, is this something that is also a goal for Ben Day to ride in the Tour one day?
Ben Day: The two biggest goals that I have always maintained in my career is to represent Australia at the Olympics and to race the Tour de France. That would fulfill everything that I have dreamed of doing in my cycling career. There are a lot of talented cyclists who don’t get that opportunity so I’m incredibly excited, and quietly confident in the progression of our team. The infrastructure is there, team owner Chris White has inspired us with his vision and we are all now part of a great journey.
SoCalCycling.com: Do you see the team doing a European campaign 2011?
Ben Day: Yes. I see us in Europe in 2011.
SoCalCycling.com: You competed in Europe in the past, do you have some favorite races there that you did? Where were you based out of when you raced there?
Ben Day: I spent 6 years in Europe, based in Italy, Portugal and Belgium. I think I would like to settle down in Spain or the south of France though. There are so many great races in Europe. Just racing that hard week in, week out, 80 to 110 days of racing a year. I miss that. It’s brutal but it changes you and toughens you up as a person. I enjoyed racing in all of the hillier countries. Switzerland, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Austria and the Tour of Britain and Ireland were great races to be involved in as well. Germany used to have a lot going on as well, but I understand cycling has been in a bit of a decline there lately.
SoCalCycling.com: Do you have a favorite pre race food or breakfast of champions?
Ben Day: I love granola and yoghurt. Especially my home made granola. It’s a weakness.
SoCalCycling.com: What do you like to do for fun when you aren’t racing your bike? Do you have any off-season activities that you enjoy doing to recharge the batteries.
Ben Day: More and more cycling is consuming my life. I now own a little coaching company, DayByDay Cycle Coaching where I am privileged to work with cyclists of all different levels and ambitions all over the world. I love imparting my knowledge and experience, talking through a situation, researching ideas and methodologies and trying to quantify something that can’t be completely quantified. And just like winning at Team Fly V Australia, their victories are also mine. I get a lot of joy from it. Asides from that, I love trying new outdoor activities with my wife – our latest is cross-country skiing. It’s pretty fun. Snow is unique to an Australian. Then there is my motorcycle waiting for me in the garage.
SoCalCycling.com: Who is your biggest inspiration in cycling?
Ben Day: My biggest inspiration in cycling now is my team. Fly V Australia is something truly unique and that is what is going to ensure our success in the future. My teammates inspire me to be successful – I want to be a part of them and myself winning. We truly share every victory as a team, whether we are at that race or not. And my wife, I want to be able to support her and provide for her like a man should.
SoCalCycling.com: Lastly, how can cycling fans keep up with Ben Day?
Ben Day: I’m easy to find! With twitter, my name is: benday78. I also have two websites as well. ben-day.com & daybydaycyclecoaching.com. But I would love to direct you all to pegasusracing.com.au – our team’s website which is hugely multimedia driven and will continue to grow. Fly V Australia also has a Facebook page.
Thanks for reading everyone. I hope this gave you some insight!
SoCalCycling.com: Thanks for your time Ben! Good luck at SDSR and Redlands, as well as the rest of the season!
Interview by Christy Nicholson, SoCalCycling.com