Tour of California: Fly V's Ben Day talks breaks while Zajicek looks to overall
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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Tour of California: Fly V's Ben Day talks breaks while Zajicek looks to overall

by Jered Gruber at 8:09 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour of California
 
Day mixes it up with the ProTour squads

Ben DayFly V Australia's National Race Calendar forerunner, Ben Day, spent the stage out front in the long break that wasn't reeled in until the final minutes of the tough finishing circuits around Bakersfield College.

The finale in Bakersfield was a surprise for many. Luckily for Day, "Fly V is pretty diligent in reconning. We got the invite and came to the race with so much ambition." Perfect, right? No surprises for Day, except for one small detail: "Unfortunately, for the recon of this stage, I stopped 30k early, so it was a lot bloody harder than I thought at the end. There were great crowds on the circuit though, which helped me around the course, but the bunch was too close to stay away in the end."

After working hard early on in the stage, Day suddenly become a nonfactor in the break. He addressed his lack of assistance in the move after the stage.

"Cycling is a game of chess. Once I heard in the radio what was going on behind with the peloton splitting into groups and most of the team's sprinters in the front group, we had to change our strategy. We have to play our best cards at the right time. They're sprinting very well right now, so I sacrificed myself for them to win. We're here to win as a team. I sat on and probably pissed a few people off, then I attacked. It's the nature of the game though."

Day continued and explained his and his team's thoughts in the break: "There were some pretty fast finishers in our break. Mark Renshaw is riding quite strongly, so I needed to play some cards there, hopefully thin the group out, and find a nice combination to come to the line with. I discouraged the momentum of the group with me sitting on, and then I had a big crack at it going over the final KOM. As I said before, Mark is riding really well, and he came with me. The guys behind us got back on though, and after that, there was quite a bit of attacking coming in to the finish. The problem was choosing the right ones coming in. It's hard, charades almost."

Ben Day was excited about today's finish, even if it was a bit of a surprise for him. "The Euros aren't 100% convinced about having circuits to finish each stage. It made an extra spectacle today, and they should appreciate it. It brings more great moments to a stage finish. The Tour of California should stay the way it is. It has incredible crowds, a great course, and great finishes. Who can say this wasn't an exciting finish?"

Though a victory has eluded the Fly V team so far, Day is confident in their prospects over the final few days. "Fly V came up a little bit short today, but we have some talented athletes. We're knocking on the door - it shouldn't be too long before the win comes."

Phil Zajicek is a great candidate for victory on the stage to Big Bear. He spoke with VeloNation ahead of Stage 4's sprint finish in Modesto. Zajicek made the front group on the crucial climb of Bonny Doon in Stage 3, but recalls: "I wasn't quite there at the bottom of the climb, but I felt really good over the top. I want to try and recover over the next two days (Stages 4 and 5), then the last three days are really important."

VeloNation asked about his goals for the race, and like those of his Fly V team, they were not low: "I think top five overall. It will be difficult, but possible. To win Big Bear would be massive."

Today's breakaway artist, Ben Day, wasn't quite so hopeful ahead of tomorrow's stage: "Apparently we've got Big Bear tomorrow. I need some recovery between now and then. It will be a long stage tomorrow, but it will definitely be the most magnificent stage. I don't expect it to be decisive though. There will be a massive amount of climbing, which will weaken some legs and turn Saturday's time trial into something a little bit different. If you're not climbing well tomorrow and not conservative or eating well, then Saturday's time trial is going to be that much more difficult."

Day has shown that he can do battle with the superstars of the sport on many occasions. Zajicek is no slouch against the world's best either. He took a huge win over both Levi Leipheimer and Lance Armstrong in the decisive stage at the Tour of the Gila in 2009 (as well as his bittersweet win at the Tour of Quinghai Lake). Zajicek laughed when reminded of his success: "It's true, but these guys are flying right now. Lance and Levi are going really well though. It will be tough."

For a rider like Zajicek, the international stage has long beckoned. He has had brief forays and some solid successes, but next year could be the big breakout opportunity that Zajicek and Day have been working for for so long: "Our team has international ambitions. We'll hopefully be racing full time in Europe next year. I'm really happy with the team."

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