In with a real chance for 2005...

An interview with Health Net, March 2005 - Part 1

Chris Wherry and Adam Craig

A squad that combines copious amounts of talent with youth and experience from multiple disciplines should perform well - when all those riders get along like a house on fire, you know something is going right! Rob Karman caught up with the Health Net presented by Maxxis team at their training camp in Solvang, California to see how things were shaping up for 2005. In part one he talks with Chris Wherry and Adam Craig about life changes and making a move from mountain biking.

Cyclingnews: So, over the last couple of years there have been a bunch of near misses in races for the team. What's the plan for 2005?

Chris Wherry: Being fortunate enough to hear Gord's last interview [laughs]. I think Gord is definitely talking about guys, some of the veterans, on this team with something to prove. And that's definitely me. I think we have several guys who want to win some stuff. Last year I had a solid year, and the year before that I had a horrible year - but even last year, as steady as it was, I still didn't do as well as I wanted in terms of performance. I wanted to go back to my winning Mercury days, so I've sort of refocused myself this year - this off season - and I kinda feel I have a new lease on life. I am really excited to race my bike again.

CN: Was moving part of that?

CW: Yeah, moving was part of it. And honestly part of it was the experience I had in Mexico. I am really happy to be here. I'm really happy to be doing what I'm doing - sometimes you just need a little wake up call in your life and that's what I got. So I am totally stoked, super motivated and I've been preparing accordingly - I just can't wait for this year.

CN: Was it the trip to Mexico in general or the particular incident?

CW: A particular incident. A life threatening incident more than anything.

CN: Have you talked to Walker? How is he doing?

CW: Walker is great. I've talked to him, in fact, I might even see him next week. He's coming up from Baja [California]. Hopefully we will all be able to hang out and have some drinks and just chill. There's definitely a bond between us now that a lot of people don't have. It is what it is and I'm just really happy to be racing my bike - I'm super stoked with the team and I think that management have taken steps in the right direction in terms of the squad and where they want us to be during the season

CN: Yeah, Redlands is going to be much more interesting without CW Horner.

CW: It will definitely open up the ball game a bit.

CN: I've been hearing from the other guys that you are killing them - you're flying right now.

CW: Just doing what I gotta do. Yeah, like I said I was motivated. I've been doing the right training. Moving down to Durango has been a really fun step for me in two ways - it's been fun to get out of Boulder and to explore a new town, and it has been interesting at the same time - I don't have the distractions that I had previously in my life. I'm still comfortable in Boulder, so it is nice to hop out of that comfort zone into a new place and be very serious.

CN: You work with Rick Crawford - is that why you chose Durango?

CW: I do work with Rick Crawford. To be closer to him is of huge benefit to me. I think it's gonna be a great season because I have the access to him that I didn't have before. If I really need a little sharpening up, for example, I can jump behind the moto with him. It's a huge boost for me because he's got a large core group of people he works with down there - be it doctors, chiropractors, PT's, massage therapists. He has Durango wired and it's producing good athletes. You look at Todd Wells and [Tom] Danielson and some of the college kids are super shocked - it's great. So I am looking forward to having a little change of pace and cool down. I enjoy it.

CN: Anything you want to add?

CW: No, I'm just chilling, and can't wait to get bike racing.

After a long day of photo sessions the team sat down to a very well-received dinner with all the staff. I was lucky enough to be invited along and got to speak with a few more riders at dinner. The first was Adam Craig, who was sitting next to me and was in his typical jovial mood. A top level Mountain bike racer for Giant Bicycles, the same bike brand that Health Net is riding, Adam will be riding in a few events with Health Net on the road.

CN: How's camp been for you? How have you been blending in with the "roadies"?

Adam Craig: It's been entertaining - so it's pretty good. [laughs]

CN: Have you been entertaining for them?

AC: Hopefully - I don't know - maybe not. [more laughing]

CN: The atmosphere seems like everyone is getting along pretty well...has it been a good camp from that perspective?

AC: Oh it's perfect. As far as coming to a place where you know one person and don't know anybody else - people that come from from a different angle to the one you are from. It is going well. Everybody seems to be getting along well together, and we've been having a good time riding A LOT, which is nice.

CN: How many road races are you planning to do at this point, do you know?

AC: It's somewhere between none and a few. I'm hoping to do some. I'm kinda excited. I always go to road races by myself to get a work out with my own agenda rather than going with a group in a team effort to accomplish whatever their goal for that day is. Hopefully I will end up doing Altoona; [it] sounds like the only race I will be needed for and also the only race I will be available for because I'm busy racing the NORBA and World Cup schedules - so I'll be racing mountain bikes a lot. So maybe Altoona and some other random stuff. I'll be doing the Health Net Criterium in Portland, Oregon in August - that's the one race on my calendar. So it will be good, and I'd be interested in checking out more races for sure.

CN: Have they given you a knickname yet?

AC: No nickname yet. I'm just the general mountain biker. "Mountain Biker" this-or-that. I haven't been getting that too much which is good. I thought I'd be getting it a little bit more.

At this point John Lieswyn pipes in from across the table…

"We all have our preconceived notions. A few of us such as Mike Sayers have tried to cross over and do some mountain biking but obviously roadies have preconceived notions of that and of us. Adam has kinda changed a few of those including the idea that they are not as strong. That they may be technically more adept and maybe not as strong, but in this case he has hung with us every day of a very hard camp. We have done a lot of hours on the bike. We have done some big mountains and Adam has been there the whole way. Another thing that sort of sets him apart is that he manages to find every, well, almost every, piece of debris on the road and flicks them off [with his front tire] very deftly. So you can tell he's a mountain biker for that."

Health Net Interview Part 2

Other Talking Cycling Interviews

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