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There’s a difference between potential and execution. It can be luck, or patience, or experience. It can be all three.
“I’ve always had good numbers in training, sometimes in the race it didn’t always pan out,” says Larry Warbasse, IAM Cycling’s 25-year-old American, less than 72 hours after finishing a grueling Vuelta a España where he finally “put it all together.”
“I had good legs, and for the first time I was able to show it,” he says. “I didn’t put up any big results or anything, but I got out there, and a lot of people saw that. It was cool to get out there on those hard days, and nice to get the confirmation that I was able to do a good ride in a grand tour.”
Reached in Madrid, where he’s taking a few days of well-deserved post-Vuelta vacation — “still recovering,” he says with a laugh — Warbasse reflects on his third season at cycling’s highest level.
The former BMC rider turned a corner this Vuelta. Without any real change in physiology, he morphed from bottle-carrier to animator, riding into breakaways and finishing the race as both the top American and top rider on his team.
“Physiologically, I don’t think anything really changed, I knew I had good capabilities. It just never really came together that much before,” he says.
Twin breakaway attempts, first on stage 16 and then again on the race’s penultimate day, ended without a victory, but that wasn’t the point. Warbasse knows, now, that a grand tour stage win is within reach.
“Last year, other than getting bottles and helping bring guys to the front, I wasn’t ever really in the heat of the race. It was great this year to be right up there.”
Warbasse’s contract with IAM is up at the end of this season, but he’ll stay in the WorldTour. His voice is confident as lays out plans for 2016 at beyond. He can’t name his new team yet, but speaks positively about the coming year. “I see myself becoming a good mountain support rider, wherever that may be,” he says. “At this Vuelta, I was there [at the front] almost to the end, and if I had a big GC leader I think I would have done a really good job for him. I would have been one of the last guys in the mountains. That’s where I want to be.”
Top mountain domestiques are often given a bit of a leash in shorter stage races, the five- to seven-day affairs that fill the calendar from February to June. Earning opportunities in these races is a goal, as is picking up that elusive first stage win.
“This year, I still made a few mistakes. But I know now that one day it’s not out of the question that I can win a stage in the grand tour, or more,” he says.