After two seasons at CSC/Saxo Bank, Jason McCartney signed with Team Radio Shack for 2010, reuniting him with the personnel from the former Discovery Channel team which gave him his first European pro ride. His tenure at CSC/Saxo Bank was highlighted by King of the Mountains jerseys at both the Tour of California and Tour of Georgia.
McCartney, known affectionately as 'JMac', explained the reason for the changing focus within the Saxo Bank and his subsequent move to RadioShack. "They [Saxo Bank] had a US sponsor at first, now they have a mainly Danish sponsor. They have a lot of great young Danish talents coming up; Matty Breschel, Chris [Anker] Sorenson so their focus has shifted to their homeland."
When asked about which cog he will be within the Radio Shack machine, it's clear McCartney's comfortable with his role is a team player. "They know me, I know them. They know where I fit in and what I am good at," he said "If I get an opportunity in a stage race, I can take it. But, mainly I am here to kick some ass and help Levi or Lance or whomever in the big stage races.
"I am good at climbing. I can ride on the front all day. I can time trial. I think I am an 'all arounder' who is going to fit in perfectly. That's kind of where I was on Discovery."
Despite having ridden the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta a España, McCartney has yet to ride the Tour de France. One of his goals is to ride the Tour in 2010. " I've been on all these big teams. Discovery Channel was arguably one of the best teams in the world and Saxo Bank was one of the best teams in the world so it it always tough to make the Tour team. I think now I have a lot more experience and I am just a lot more confident in myself. For me, that's a goal," said McCartney.
What does 'JMac' need to do to get a ticket to the Tour? "I need to show consistency. That I am strong. That I am motivated. I think I fit in... With Tour teams or any team it is all about fitting in the right guys with the right spots. Hopefully, I can be one of those guys who fits in and can help out and they see that," he explained.
Johan Bruyneel is a big reason McCartney returned to his first European pro team. "You can be on the bus and it can be raining out and everyone is like 'this sucks' and then he [Bruyneel] comes on and he's a motivator. He is able to change things around. Every race I ever did where he was the director, it was amazing. Mayeb you weren't riding so well or whatever - he'll just say one little thing to you or to the group and it just changes the whole group," said McCartney.
Off-season training is critical, especially for a ProTour team which needs to be ready in late January for the Tour Down Under. McCartney does a little bit of running, but cross country skiing is his real passion. "I will be skiing every day because I am addicted. I ski two, three, four hours, just what I can do. We have two great places the University [of Iowa] grooms. There is about 15km in town and 20-25km in the country. You can just do loops there all day. It is up and down. Perfect training," he explained.
Apparently McCartney used cross country ski training to take a podium place in the 2007 Tour of California, so what's the draw? "It's just so great for your mind. You are doing something different. It is the same muscles as riding so you aren't really missing anything," he said. "It kind of changed me as a rider doing it instead of drinking beers in the winter. Now I am addicted. I go skiing. It's my new thing. Hopefully it can pay off again this year. I know it will give me a great base."
At 36, JMac still has a few good years left, but he's also frank about what lies ahead. "You realise that it is not going to last forever. For me, I would probably like to do this season and two more in Europe and then maybe call it quits or come back and do something in the US."
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