The Californian hills are a long way from those on which Tasmania’s Jai Crawford trains, but it’s exactly where he’s hoping to celebrate success after his Fly V Australia Continental team was confirmed on the Tour of California’s invite list.
While it will be some weeks before a possible spot for Crawford on the team’s race roster is confirmed, he’s already spent months preparing for the 2.HC race.
“Nobody in our team will have their start in the race confirmed until later on and it will be based on performance, so everyone is pretty hungry to do well and get the call up for it,” said Crawford. “Definitely for myself I’ll be very disappointed if I don’t do well enough and prove myself to make the cut, as it’s one of my big goals for the year.
“It’s a massive opportunity and one of the reasons I signed with Fly V Australia,” he added. “I’m slowly putting the runs on the board to get there, but that’s just the first step. Once I’m there I really want to perform.”
Knowing the opportunity ahead of him this season, Crawford has made improvements to his race preparation. For the first time he’s taken on a personal coach in the form of teammate and Redlands Bicycle Classic winner Ben Day and is making the most of the technology provided by his new squad.
“I’ve got myself a coach and I’m training with a power meter, which are small things but I’ve never done those before, so it’s a big improvement in my training,” he said. “I’m starting to see the results of that in the power I’m putting out, so I’m pretty confident I will have some good condition for that time of year. Hopefully when I get there I can hang on with the big names.”
Crawford has struggled to break back into the European scene since leaving the Driving Force Logistics squad four months into the 2005 season. Since then he’s competed in Asia where he hoped results in mountainous events like the Tour of Langkawi would gain the attention of Professional Continental and ProTour teams. Crawford is now pinning his hopes on the US racing scene to achieve the same end result.
“I certainly hope so; I was hopeful after I got second in Langkawi last year, but nothing came of that, so you can’t always take it for granted,” he said. “Really I’ll just focus on trying to get the best result I can in California, being the best I can for the team, and look at what happens after that.
“You’ve got to think that if you get a result there then the ProTour teams have to be looking at you, but also you’ve got to remember that Fly V has big goals for the future and they want to step up so there’s always that possibility too,” he added.
California isn’t the only big opportunity Crawford could take during his first year in the US. The rider will also contest events such as the Tour of the Gila and Tour of Utah, which play towards his strengths as a rider.
“They’re going to be really important races for me,” he admitted. “My opportunities to do well at tours that suit me have been really slim over the past few years. I’ve had Langkawi and even the Tour of Georgia in 2008, but they’re the only big races that I’ve been able to do against top quality competition.
“Every race I have done that’s been mountainous in Asia I’ve done well in, so I’m hoping to continue that in America,” he said.