Giddeon Massie Interview: American sprinter racing on the boards in Europe
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Friday, October 29, 2010

Giddeon Massie Interview: American sprinter racing on the boards in Europe

by Ed Hood at 6:31 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews, Track
 
Multiple US champion on track speaks about racing in Amsterdam and the scene in the US

Giddeon MassieThe European road season has barely ended and already the 'races to nowhere' have kicked off.

Despite the fact that some six day races have slid off the calendar - due in no small measure to the adverse reaction of the German media to professional cycling's recent drugs scandals - the sport is still alive and well all over Europe.

Amsterdam was the season opener, with recent VeloNation interview subject Roger Kluge and German compatriot Robert Bartko, the Sydney Olympics individual and team pursuit gold medallist, taking the honours.

Kluge's next six day will not be until Berlin in January. Track World Cup and Skil team training camp commitments are conspiring to restrict his activities as a 'squirrel.'

Every six day has a 'speciality' in addition to the points, elimination, time trial and madison races which are common to each six.

In Gent it's the derny racing, beloved by the Flemish crowd; in Berlin it's the "big motors" where a separate, nightly competition is held for those fearless men who hurtle round the tight track at motorway speeds behind snarling motor bikes; in Grenoble it's the cabaret acts and topless 'follies' dancers from Paris who perform between races - and in Amsterdam it's the "sprinters' six" that entertains between the 'six day proper' events.

VeloNation caught up with 29 year-old multiple US champion, double Olympian, Pan Am Games gold medallist - and occasional male model - Giddeon Massie. He was performing in his first six, racing on the tight boards of the Sloten track thanks to the Dutch connections of his manager Patrick Lyons.

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VeloNation: Where's 'home,' Giddeon?

Giddeon Massie: I'm from Pennsylvania but spend a lot of time in California training at the LA velodrome with the US team.

VN: How did you get into track racing?

GM: I started going out on the road with my dad, just for fun. We were near Trexlertown velodrome so I started to ride there and was inspired by Marty Northstein and all the international sprinters who rode there - guys like Daryn Hill from Australia and Anthony Peden from New Zealand.

VN: You've been Pan Am Games champion?

GM: I was sprint and keirin champion in 2003, yes. I didn't ride the last ones but will ride next year - the US places a lot of stock in Pan Am medals.

VN: The US Nationals were good for you…

GM: Yes, I won the sprint kilometre and team sprint - and was second in the keirin. It was a lot of racing to pack in to a few days with 8 or 9 sprint rounds in one night. By the end it wasn't so much about speed as a war of attrition.

Giddeon MasseVN: Is US track racing healthy?

GM: There's a lot of potential and it's enjoying a bit of an upswing - former world keirin and team sprint champion Jamie Staff (GB) is coaching us now, and I think that will be a big positive factor.

VN: Have you ever considered a spell training with the French or Australian sprinters?

GM: I'd love to, but it does no good to disappear from the US scene. And I think now that Jamie is here, things will be different.

VN: Amsterdam was your first six?

GM: I didn't know what to expect - I watched a lot of You Tube videos! It turned out that I got better and better every night, it went really well.

VN: How were you accepted?

GM: I knew a lot of the guys already, like Teun Mulder, from riding World Cups, so that was no problem. I was well received by the crowd too; I didn't know how it would go but I raced hard and tried to get them involved.

VN: You're a big man, it's a small track.

GM: To start with, every time I ran into those banking it was like a ton of bricks hitting me! But by the end of the week I got to know the track. One thing is that you have to ride much lower gears than you do at the World Cups - it's a little bit tamer.

VN: What's next?

GM: Next up it's a stop off in Philadelphia then back to training in California.

The timings have worked out well, I had the Nationals then a rest then this six, next up is preparation for the World Cups then I have the Rotterdam six in January.

VN: How about that modelling?

GM: It's not something I pursue but I'm on the look out for opportunities, if they arise…
 

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