After competing for a year with the modest Amore e Vita team, Great Britain's Tom Southam will line...
Learning from a champion
After competing for a year with the modest Amore e Vita team, Great Britain's Tom Southam will line out alongside former world road race champion Igor Astarloa and the other Barloworld-Valsir riders in 2005. Performances such as a silver medal in the British road race championships last summer plus a strong display in the Tour of Britain have led some to regard Southam as one of the country's brightest young prospects.
The 23 year-old is looking forward to the new season, training hard in South Africa over the winter and then returning to his base in Italy to complete his preparations. His first appointment is the Tour de Langkawi at the end of January; after that, he is hoping that the team will gain wildcard entries to some of the sport's big ProTour events, enabling him to continue his progression. Shane Stokes talked to Tom at the Barloworld training camp recently, and here's what transpired.
"I'm looking forward to the year," he told Cyclingnews.com at the Team Barloworld-Valsir training camp in Italy. "My personal goals lie again with the national championships which I am determined to win soon - this year - and the Tour of Britain as well. They are both races that I know I can do well in. When you have got races that you know you can do well in and you have done well in before, that makes it an easier goal.
"I am starting with the Tour de Langkawi at the end of the month. It will be the first time I have done it, but I should come out of it with good form. I have had a good winter in Africa, it is the perfect base for that time of year. To be honest, I don't mind where I race as long as I am racing."
Southam is clearly impressed by the notion of riding alongside Astarloa. "I watched him win the World's in Canada, as I was over there doing the Under 23 race. So I saw him take that and now, all of a sudden, I am going training with the guy. That is pretty cool... Astarloa was world champion last year and he had a great year. People say he didn't do much, but you must remember that he didn't race so often. When he did race he was getting good placings - he took seconds and thirds in Tirreno-Adriatico, then didn't race (because of the Cofidis situation). Then he came back and he got second in his first race and won the first stage of the Brixia Tour. When you actually ride the events you think 'wow, that's really good.' He is a tough guy, he is one of the top dogs out there."
Click here for the full interview
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