An interview with David Clinger, February 15, 2004
Cyclingnews European Editor Tim Maloney sat down with 26 year old David Clinger at the recent Domina Vacanze team presentation to discuss his return to the European peloton with Domina Vacanze and his goals for the 2004 season.
Cyclingnews: Here we are in an elegant villa high above Lake Como and I imagine the last few months have pretty much been like a whirlwind for you to get back on a top European team. [Clinger rode for Festina in 2000-01, notching three wins in Spain - Ed]
David Clinger: Yes it has. Well I had some commitments with another team in America and there was some trouble getting out of that but everything turned out good; I'm here in Italy and happy to be here!
CN: So you are living in Andorra now in the Pyrenees - how's that?
DC: I moved there to improve my climbing a bit. I'm pretty good on 3 to 4 km climbs, but I'd like to be able to ride better no climbs up to 10km. If I can do that, I'll be happier with my performances. As of now, I'm not happy with my climbing skills.
CN: Didn't you live in Spain when you rode for Festina?
DC: I lived down on the coast near Valencia, a town called Denia. It was good for training but you don't get the altitude like in Andorra. There are climbs there, like 7 or 8 km, but nothing like the Pyrenees in Andorra.
CN: I hear you are an excellent snowboarder as well as a pro cyclist. Was that another reason to move to the mountains?
DC: I just snowboard for fun, to free my mind of cycling and to have another physical activity where you're exercising your body and enjoying being fit.
CN: How is your snowboarding?
DC: It's pretty good. I've been working up to a backflip. [laughs] I've got the 360 but maybe I can catch some sponsors if I get that!
CN: What about going to the Olympics for both cycling and snowboarding?
DC: Yeah! They're in different years now! But it's not an option in any way to quit cycling for snowboarding.
CN: So what's the transition been like to Domina Vacanze? Training camps, 2004 program?
DC: No training camp and I don't think there is one scheduled... we'll just start in racing and everybody pretty much knows their position on the team. I've met all my teammates and they are a nice group of guys and I think we'll all get along very well this year.
CN: Did any of the Domina guys know you?
DC: Sure, not only from the results but from competing in Europe before. My roommate, Derganc, knew me from junior racing together ten years ago. We were both on our respective national teams so that was interesting for me to get to know him.
As of now, my racing season begins at the Tour Of Turkey, then two one-day races in Italy and after that, it looks like I may have a shot to ride the Giro and the Vuelta. The rest of my spring program depends on my form. We'll see how it goes. None of the Domina coaches know me, they've never seen me race under their direction so if everything goes well, it's sounds like a good program.
CN: What do you think your role will be on Domina Vacanze this year?
DC: For me, I'll have to have the form and an opportunistic mentality to do well when Mario [Cipollini] isn't looking for a win. When the coaches say "okay it's your turn", you have to have the ability to perform, to win. That's the only way to get the confidence of other riders is to be able to do that.Then next time they tell you that, everybody's going to support you a litte bit better.
CN: You have a reputation as being a quietly determined rider who can show his talent in key situations like when you won in the First Union Invitational in Lancaster in 2002 or the last stage of the Tour de Georgia last year. What will it take for you to bring your game up to the next level here in Europe?
DC: I think that I've been doing many of the things that it takes, but I also have a team role here at Domina Vacanze, knowing that Mario will be looking to win on flatter stages, and that there are riders similar to me for hillier, harder races. But you have to want to win and you have to have that. If you don't want to win, it usually doesn't just fall in your lap. I'm working on my climbing now to be able to be in the mix when the groups split, and make the key selections. I think that in itself will bring forth more opportunities to win.
CN: Has it hit you yet that you're back in the big leagues?
DC: Oh it's hitting me right now. I've never met Mario Cipollini before and he's a great rider. Hopefully we can deliver more stage wins in the Giro d'Italia. Plus there's pressure on me this year because I only have a one year contract. It was hard enough to get back to Europe; it wasn't like I had a plethora of people asking me to come back, so I have to come forth with some results or come forth and make my teammates win. One or the other.
CN: So perhaps you'll be riding the Cipo train at the Giro this year?
DC: Yeah, he has guys now that he's got full confidence in so of course, it will be hard for me to move into one of those positions, but it's bike racing and things happen. I'm not counting on that but I'm pretty sure that my physical ability will be well placed on this team and the coaches will see that.
CN: Since we're almost a wrap, do you want to send a shout out to anyone Stateside?
DC: Yeah, my Mom back in Woodland Hills, California and brother and sister; they're both raising kids now, so they're a little preoccupied. And hey to Danny Pate - he helped me out a lot last year on Prime Alliance and hopefully he can come out with some wins this year. I can't say I was on a bad team last year, but we had a couple of guys that didn't want to do team work the way we wanted it to be done, so we didn't get as many wins as we wanted to. Hopefully Pate can make it back over here to Europe if he ever wants to.
CN: He's certainly got the talent.
DC: He's a strong kid; he's just got to think to win more and when he does, he's got to win.
We left David Clinger for a meeting with his Domina Vacanze coach Ricardo Magrini to further review his 2004 race calendar. The Southern California rider is following a path blazed by top SoCal amateur racers like Mike Hiltner (aka Victor Vicente Of America) almost half-century before racing in Italy and George Mount and Mike Neel from Northern California, who turned pro over twenty-five years ago in Italy. Despite the pressure this year, look for the talented, determined Clinger to rise to the challenge in 2004.