Once more, for old times' sake

John Lieswyn (Health Net-Maxxis) will be ending his international cycling career this Sunday in...

An interview with John Lieswyn, September 24, 2005

John Lieswyn (Health Net-Maxxis) will be ending his international cycling career this Sunday in Madrid as a member of the US team for the road world championships. Lieswyn's final season has been a memorable one, with wins and near misses while his team has effectively run the table in US domestic cycling. It's now time for this veteran to ride one more time in a worlds race. Cyclingnews' Mark Zalewski tracked Lieswyn down for a quick update on his worlds experience.

After almost winning the Barclay's Global Investors Grand Prix in San Francisco and then winning the Carolina Cup early this month, Lieswyn thought his racing was done, since the US federation had not included his name on the list of riders for the worlds. However, his plans changes suddenly last weekend when he found out he was named to the team by the coaches. With some quick reshuffling of travel plans Lieswyn finds himself in Madrid with the opportunity to help a fellow American win the rainbow jersey.

Cyclingnews: How is this worlds different then the other ones for you? Is it more nostalgic, or business as usual?

John Lieswyn: In extreme distance and expected difficulty, this worlds has the same daunting feel about it. What's different is that I'm extremely motivated to make the sacrifices pay off; I am absolutely determined to get to the finish and to do a good job for Fred. Of course, should I be forced out due to a mechanical or crash I could accept that as part of cycling. But I won't be able to accept any other kind of failure on my part.

CN: What have you been doing this week to prepare, especially since it was rather short notice?

JL: After having ridden only occasionally since San Fran, I hit it every day since Saturday (the day I found out about the selection). I got in two particularly hard rides over four hours. Tuesday included 10km of sub-max climbing efforts.

CN: What do you think of the course now that you are there?

JL: Haven't seen it yet. The elite team will be getting on the course during the one hour intermission between the under 23 and women's races Saturday. Due to the complexity of the course, one way streets, and traffic, that will be our only real chance to see the course at any kind of speed.

CN: The team is a rather eclectic group of young and old. What are the other team members like?

JL: Some I've known since the "beginning" like Fred. Today we reminisced on the ride and it was cathartic for me to relive those tough early experiences from Europe in the early 1990s. The Niedersachsen, a fourteen day stage race back then, saw the entire US team drop out except for Fred, George and me. I remember the US coach telling Fred and I as we waited sodden, cold and miserable in the team van for George to trail in lantern rouge: 'George will never be a pro!' We laughed about that coach's statement today!

Of course I have huge appreciation and respect for my friend Jason McCartney and it will be really cool to be teammates again one more time. Today was also the first time I met Pat McCarty; he seems cool and I hope to see great things from him as he moves to Phonak.

CN: With all of the last minute changes, will you have a chance to do any sightseeing in Madrid?

JL: Due to the rush to get back to Vegas for Interbike, I won't have any time to sightsee. But like all bike racing trips, we have a different and in some ways much better kind of sight seeing. No, we don't shop or walk museums. But from the bike, out on training rides, we can see the way real Spaniards are living their normal lives and it's so much more immediate and textured than any tourist attraction. Today we passed a few schools letting out.

Kids were getting picked up by mom or dad in minivans, but many more were walking home in groups. Madrid has thousands of people walking the streets; a lifestyle that keeps people trim and keeps society interacting in community groups. It's also a city that is in the throes of massive renovation and growth. In our 1.5 hour ride today I hardly saw any buildings older than 30 years, and giant blocks of brand new buildings. I'm sure there is a historic part of town, but I haven't seen it yet. Perhaps tomorrow.

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