Cyclingnews will be introducing some of the fresh faces in the WorldTour peloton for 2013 in a series of articles over the next month. Australian Steele von Hoff has joined the Garmin-Sharp team after racing well in the Tour Down Under with the national team and bagging a handful of victories while racing with the team's development squad. He is riding his debut race with the team at the Santos Tour Down Under.
Cyclingnews: How did contract come about? Which races best showed your ability to ride at the WorldTour level
Steele von Hoff: I rode as a stagiaire with Garmin after Allan Peiper saw me racing in Australia. They liked me so I got the gig. Last year at Tour Down Under I was here and Allan was watching me quite closely after I placed sixth at the national titles. Allan was in the team car with my manager Andrew Christie-Johnston. It all evolved from there.
CN: What started you racing bikes?
SVH: There was a few things actually. Originally it was the recumbent bikes that got me on the bike as such for the first time in grade six. I did triathlons and then I had a bit of time off. Danny Brkic from Powerbar pulled out of a mountain bike race for a community team so I filled in for him, and then I ended up racing for a nutritional company on the mountain bike for four years which is what really got me racing. After that I jumped across to the road with Andrew [Christie-Johnston] and Genesys.
CN: Did you compete in any other sports before taking up cycling full time?
SVH: Triathlon, right through high school – so six years.
CN: Who was your sporting hero growing up?
SVH: I idolised a lot of the guys who I was racing against in my running squad. We had world champions and my best mates and I aspired to be like them.
CN: Which WorldTour race do you most want to compete in?
SVH:The Tour de France.
CN: What was your reaction to the USADA/US Postal case - does it make you concerned for what you might find at the WorldTour, or give you hope?
SVH: I think it’s cleaning up the sport and it’s a good thing because it’s getting rid of all the dirt.
CN: What are you changing about your program and/or season preparation to help you transition to the WorldTour?
SVH: I’m running it as I was really. I’m trying to peak for a few different races this time, which means later on in the season rather than to be going right now.
CN: Have you spoken to other riders who've made the leap and have provided advice or other mentors?
SVH: My coach Andrew Christie-Johnston is babying me all along the way and my teammates.
CN: Where will you be based - who will you be living with there? Prepared for culture shock?
SVH: I’ll be based in Girona and living by myself. That’s after being in the team house with 14 other riders last year so I’m quite keen for some alone time.
CN: Do you have a special talent aside from cycling that people might not know about?
SVH: I wouldn’t call it a talent, but I’ve got a few hobbies. I like remote control cars. I’m pretty good at driving them. That’s about it at the moment. If I’ve got a talent I suppose it’s my qualification as a boiler maker. I’m a pretty handy welder.