Sam Bewley Interview: Without a pro contract, 2012 will be a year on the boards
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Monday, February 6, 2012

Sam Bewley Interview: Without a pro contract, 2012 will be a year on the boards

by Xylon van Eyck at 5:46 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews
Kiwi is targeting London Olympics, but hopes to return to road next season

Sam BewleySam Bewley was one of the unfortunate riders last year affected by the merger between Team RadioShack and Leopard Trek. The New Zealander turned professional with RadioShack in 2010 after riding for its feeder under 23 team Trek Livestrong. While he admits it took him a while to find his feet in the professional ranks, he believes he did enough to prove he is worthy of a place in the top ranks of the sport.

Although his main designation was to work for the team, 2011 shaped up to be a better year for the 24 year old. His confidence grew, thanks to a third place finish in the Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen prologue, where he finished ahead of riders such as Svein Tuft and Patrick Gretsch.

However despite that, he was left without a pro contract for 2012 when the RadioShack team wound up and some of its riders and personnel moved across to the Leopard Trek team, now renamed RadioShack Nissan.

While he doesn’t have a pro deal, Bewley has started the year motivated and strong, winning stage three of the New Zealand Cycle Classic. The London Olympics will be the focal point of his season with the New Zealand track team attempting to better its third place from Beijing in the team pursuit.

Admitting a place on the New Zealand track team is not a given, Bewley invites the challenge and says stiff competition of late is a good sign for NZ cycling.

VeloNation: With no Pro Team for 2012, what are your plans for the year?

Sam Bewley: Since winning bronze in Beijing in 2008, I have been 100% committed to this year. It is possible it's going to be my final Olympics on the track so for that reason I have given my full commitment to the NZ team pursuit team. Although I haven't stopped riding the track the past four years, some of my campaigns have been shortened to give myself the chance to grow on the road for a hopeful future in that discipline of the sport.

But 2012 requires a full commitment on the boards. It starts with the World Cup in London next week before the World champs in April, then the Olympic games in August.

VN: Is it a given that you're going to London with the national team, or do you have to earn your spot?

SB: Nothing is a given in this sport. And that is becoming more evident in the NZ men’s endurance programme. The strength and depth of the programme has gone from strength to strength lately. There are some younger guys coming through who were expected to be the ones for 2016 but it is now very realistic that a couple of them will be in London.

Not only that, but the 'older' guys are getting quicker too. This makes the competition for spots pretty fierce. But that only benefits the team as a whole. I am confident I’ll be at my second Olympics in a few months time.

VN: Are there any truth to the rumours you might be joining GreenEdge later in the year?

SB: I haven't really sat down and planned or discussed what I'll do post-Olympics yet. Like I said, this is a big year on the boards and I am motivated to make it a successful one.

VN: Where were you when you first head the news about RadioShack "folding"? Was there any possibility of you going to the new team?

SB: I was in a hotel in Nantes, I heard the rumour, then more or less the next day it was confirmed there was going to be a merger. It was obvious people from both parties were going to have to look for other options. I was one of those. And I accepted that pretty easily, I try not to let my feathers get ruffled too easily. Plus I had a goal for this year and it didn't directly affect it too much.

I left RadioShack with a fully positive mindset. Johan [Bruyneel] gave me the opportunity to become pro, after a bit of a shaky start I worked hard and really felt I proved that I can compete at that top level. I enjoyed working with the people I was involved with. I also learnt so much that I will take with me throughout my entire career.

VN: Is the goal to get a road team next year again and, if so, how do you plan to achieve this?

SB: For sure, post Olympics I really want to focus on establishing my career on the road. I believe I have the ability to do that. And when racing on the road is my full focus it will help hugely.

That starts with doing the right thing through the off-season to set myself up for 2013. I’m also excited that it's going to be something new for me without the track during this period of the year.

I can get rid of a bit more weight since I don’t have to get off the start line in a big gear and have it going 100m later. So there will be some new challenges I'm excited about, as long as I have a team.


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