Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Brands

News

A conversation with Tony Cruz

Tony Cruz is back for his third season with U.S. Postal Service and he’s more optimistic than ever. Cruz caught the attention of America’s elite team following his breakout 2000 season when he won a berth on the U.S. Olympic team and stages at the Tour of Langkawi and the Solano Classic. After getting used to racing European-style, Cruz says the best is yet to come. Cruz has already been racing nearly two months in Europe and finished 11th in the Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne semi-classic in Belgium. VeloNews European correspondent Andrew Hood caught up with Cruz at Paris-Nice, just before the

Don't miss a moment from Paris-Roubaix and Unbound Gravel, to the Giro d’Italia, Tour de France, Vuelta a España, and everything in between when you join Outside+.

By Andrew Hood

A conversation with Tony Cruz

A conversation with Tony Cruz

Photo:

Tony Cruz is back for his third season with U.S. Postal Service and he’s more optimistic than ever.

Cruz caught the attention of America’s elite team following his breakout 2000 season when he won a berth on the U.S. Olympic team and stages at the Tour of Langkawi and the Solano Classic. After getting used to racing European-style, Cruz says the best is yet to come.

Cruz has already been racing nearly two months in Europe and finished 11th in the Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne semi-classic in Belgium. VeloNews European correspondent Andrew Hood caught up with Cruz at Paris-Nice, just before the news broke that teammate George Hincapie would not be racing in the spring classics. Here are excerpts from the interview:

VeloNews: When do you come back to Spain?

Tony Cruz: I came back to Spain two days after training camp in Solvang, so it was a lot sooner than I thought it’d be. My racing program changed and I started with the Tour Mediterranean (in mid-February) instead of Valencia (in early March).

VN: Why is that, do you know?

TC: I think it was because last year I was kind of on the bubble for the classics team. Dirk (Demol) said it’s official, you’re one of the key guys. And I told them I need to race more. For me, the best thing is racing. I’m not one of those guys who can train 24-7. I need to race. It helps if you focus on everything, racing, strategy, riding.

VN: What’s your race schedule look like from here?

TC: I’ll be up in Belgium for a month or so, Flanders, Ghent, Roubaix. I think De Panne will be a good test to show where all of us are. After that I go back to Georgia, come back for Dunkirk and Tour of Belgium and then back for Philly.

VN: What role will you have on the classics team?

TC: It’s to help George win any one of the big classics. I might have some chances in some of the smaller races. We also have Max going well, but he’s not one of those guys that need the team. He likes to do things on his own. He reacts different under pressure than George does. George needs guys driving it for him to motivate him. I think it will be a lot more individual effort as far as my result to get on my own.

VN: Where do you think you might have some chances for yourself?

TC: Maybe in some of the earlier semi-classics coming up, definitely there.

VN: Is that something you decide going in or what until how the race unfolds?

TC: We really want to wait to see how George is going, whether he’s going to be there or not.

VN: It must be frustrating for George to have some problems right in the most important part of his season.

TC: George is such a strong guy, mentally and physically. Deep down inside it’s just killing because this is where he shines. He works so hard to try to win some of these big races.

VN: After the classics, what are your chances of making the Tour team?

TC: I’ll do Tour of Cataluyna and we’ll see if I can make a good run for the Tour team. It’s really hard. Everyone is so strong at that time of the year. This year I’m a little more mature. It was hard here without my family. My best friend passed away who was going to be living with me. There were too many changes to deal with. This year I feel a lot more focused just from the get go.

VN: If you go to the Tour, you won’t be going back to the Vuelta?

TC: I’d probably end up doing both.

VN: A long season for you then. World’s no?

TC: Probably not. I’ve not have some luck there and when I arrive to the world’s, I realize I’m tired now.

Cruz was just a few bicycles away from the fatal crash of Andrei Kivilev, who died after falling face-first in the second stage of Paris-Nice.

VN: Did you see Kivilev’s crash?

TC: I was only about 10 guys from the crash. I swung right and I saw two guys getting up, but I didn’t see him because there were a lot of guys right up against him. I saw all the Kivilev banners on the climb going up, I had no idea it was him.

VN: How did you hear about his death?

TC: The next morning, they told us he’d passed away. It was a big shock. … Dirk (Demol) came in and gathered us all together and said I have some very sad news and said Kivilev died from the crash yesterday. That was it – it was just pretty silent after that. We just went to sign-on and rode the stage. …What really pissed me, which is a really sign of disrespect, is to see all these guys riding without helmets. I don’t understand it.

VN: Do you think helmets should be compulsory?

TC: I do. They don’t weigh anything. They just keep getting lighter and lighter every year. I know a lot of these guys are into their hairstyles and their looks, but when you see something like that happen, that should be the sign right there. It’s not that important.

VN: Have helmets ever saved you from serious injury?

TC: I’ve hit my head pretty hard a couple of times. There’s a good chance that it did save my life.

VN: How did it affect you when you heard about it?

TC: It will probably affect me when I go back home, because if you can’t focus on the racing, you should just stop. That’s a good way to get yourself hurt. There’s so much adrenaline and competitiveness out there, it just goes into the back of your mind. That’s when you go home and realize what happened.

UCI still taking wait-and-see on Coast
The Union Cycliste Internationale said Tuesday it was awaiting verification of the contract signed by Jan Ullrich with Team Coast before giving the former Tour de France winner the green light for his comeback in the Tour of Sarthe from April 8-11. The 29-year-old German had been suspended from competition until March 23 after testing positive last June for amphetamines which he said he took in a nightclub when he was suffering from depression following two knee operations. “We’re still awaiting our accounts people to inform us that all is in order with his Team Coast contract,” said UCI road-race organizer Alain Rumpf.

Ullrich, the 1997 Tour de France winner, signed with the German team last January, but the UCI temporarily suspended Team Coast last month because of doubts about their financial situation.

“We’ve given Coast until April 7 to provide us with justification of the payment of their employees salaries. If this is not done we will have to think again about new measures,” added Rumpf.