Graeme Brown has defended his style of racing following an eventful Jayco Bay Cycling Classic. The 2009 series winner has been baited, sworn at and interfered with during the stage race and also returned serve with his fair share of each of those throughout the series.
The Rabobank professional said he felt as if it was him against the world during this week's event. Despite flare-ups with close friend Chris Sutton and not-so-close pal Baden Cooke, and a $250 fine for intimidating an official, Brown said he's not an angry person.
"I'm not angry, I'm definitely not angry, but every time I pin a number on I want to win," he said. "It doesn't matter if it's Gent-Wevelgem, Milan-Sanremo or a stage of the Bay Classics – as far as I'm concerned I do everything I can to win the race. Sometimes I get a little bit carried away.
"I race every day to win," added Brown. "I race every bike race I do all year to win and I'm going to continue to race the same. It's been good and yet bad, the way I race. A lot of people appreciate my aggression towards winning, some people don't. Baden Cooke is a prime example, he doesn't like it and complains at every opportunity he can. I start every race to win and I'm going to continue starting every race to win."
Brown admitted that he does have regrets about some incidents that have taken place throughout his career, but the rider has no plans to revise his approach to racing. He said Jack Bobridge and Brett Lancaster's efforts to try pulling back a break on the last day, despite riding for rival teams, is evidence of the close friendships he shares with members in the peloton.
"Of course I do think maybe I'd like to have changed a few things, but from that point of view people like the way I ride because it is aggressive and I race," said Brown. "Some people don't like me because I do that. There's pros and cons to the way I race: Obviously Cookie doesn't like it because he says so quite often, Robbie just throws out the fishing line and tries to hook, line and sinker me every time…and does a pretty good job of it."
Brown believes the race intensity of training at the Jayco Bay Cycling Classic will hold him in good stead for the Tour Down Under from January 17-24. Brown admitted he needs to figure out what aspect of his training in Australia works so well so he carry it through when he returns to Europe.
"I feel good. The Bay Crits for me, I always believe it's the icing on the cake for the start of my season," he said. "Many people criticise the way I race early season, saying that I do too much, but this is the way I bring my last percent. Okay, it is January, it is the Tour Down Under but it's still a ProTour race, you win a ProTour race and it's still a big deal.
"At the start of last year I won four races here, okay, then I died off, but maybe it was just because I did too much early season, but I still won a lot of races at the start of the season," he said. "Now all I need to do is concentrate more on March through to September – my drop-off period. So I need to step back, look what I've done wrong, look at the way I train in Australia and try to copy it where I live in Europe."
While those comments were largely aimed at advice given by Robbie McEwen earlier in the week, Brown had less time for reactions to Cooke's comments on his fine for intimidation earlier in the week. "I've got plenty of reactions but I probably shouldn't say them. Maybe he needs to take a little look in the mirror, I might just leave it at that," he said.