Michael Barry is one tough Canadian! He is usually seen helping out his teammates and takes control when the pace of the peloton boils to a high. Michael has been the right-hand man for riders such as Roberto Heras, Max Van Heeswick, and George Hincapie. The fall of 2003 saw Michael Barry enter the ranks of super domestique when he helped Roberto Heras to a second Vuelta a Espaņa win. Barry will race the 2005 Giro d'Italia for the first time, while at the same time, he and wife Dede (a former professional cyclist) are expecting their first child.
The following Michael Barry interview was conducted by BiciRace.com who served up the questions, while Michael answered them in a true professional style.
BiciRace.com: Milano-Sanremo was on a nice and sunny day in Italy, one of the warmest days so far this year. You were racing for nearly 300K and 7.5 hours! What were you doing for the first half of the race, and how did it go overall?
Michael Barry: Yes, it was a nice day. The first hour of the race was active before the breakaway was established. Then we pretty much slowed down, chatted and cruised along until we hit the coast. The moment we turned onto the coastal road the speed kept getting higher. The race wasn't good for the team. The crash a couple of kilometers from the bottom of the Cipressa eliminated three of us. Leif Hoste crashed quite hard and Pavel and I were stuck behind the crash.
BR: Was there any time for espresso stops? (Just kidding!)
MB: I wish. It would have been nice to stop for a brew on the coast.
BR: So the team was without two of the big guns, George Hincapie and Max Van Heeswijk. Was the attention turned over to Roger Hammond or Stijn Devolder?
MB: Yes, we tried to help those two out. But, for both of them it was their first time in Milano-Sanremo, and you really need to know the course, for positioning etc. so we were all lost without Max and George.
BR: How hard were you pushing it down the Cipressa and over to the Poggio?
MB: I wasn't going too hard anymore as the race was pretty much over for me after I was stuck behind the crash. We chased for a while to get back on, but in the front they were going at 60 km/h heading into the climbs so the chances of making it back on were slim to none.
BR: So the speed was slower than expected because of the lost time in the crash that took out Leif Hoste?
MB: Yes, exactly, once you're dropped and out of contention or can't help your teammates anymore you pretty much shut it down and ride to the finish at a steady speed.
BR: How is racing along the Italian coast towards Sanremo similar to a race in Belgium?
MB: Well there were a few obstacles: garbage cans, cars, spectators, that we had to avoid. Essentially, it is similar in that you race as hard as possible to be in good position at the bottom of the climb. If you are too far back the race is over.
BR: How is it different?
MB: Less corners, round-abouts etc. The coast road is pretty straightforward and there aren't many accelerations like in Belgium. On the coast road the speed is just high and everybody is racing to stay near the front.
BR: BiciRace.com has heard the rumor that you will risk your back for a cup of morning coffee. Is everything fine now with your back?
MB: Yes, there is truth to the rumor. It is a bit embarrassing but, I sneezed and held the sneeze so I wouldn't spill the coffee and while doing that my back muscles seized up. But, it is much better now-back to normal. I'll just make sure I put the coffee down before I sneeze from now on.
BR: Was there any thought of giving up espresso and switching to Orzo?
MB: I drank Orzo once or twice while living in France but honestly, it tastes pretty bad.
BR: Where's the best place to race, in terms of the best espresso?
MB: Italy, for sure.
BR: How is the espresso machine on the bus this year?
MB: I haven't seen the machine on the new bus yet but Luc, our bus driver, keeps the Saeco machine on the old bus running smoothly. George and I actually drink the coffee out of the bus each morning before breakfast as we know it'll be good.
BR: Are the guys cleaning up after themselves when they use it?
MB: No, not really. The bus is a complete mess before we head to the start. I feel bad for the soigneurs and Luc. It seems we are always in a rush and there is stuff everywhere when we take off.
BR: Do you spend more time making espresso or drinking espresso?
MB: We have an automatic machine in Spain at our apt and on the bus, so I would have to say drinking it. Making it, you only need to push a button.
BR: Do you use sugar?
BR: What team has the best machine set up in their bus?
MB: Probably Saeco-or Lampre-Caffita now. I haven't been in many of the team buses. The old Lampre bus had a pretty good set-up, a big machine that could pump out a couple of shots at a time.
BR: What type of machine do you use at home? (What past machines have you owned?)
MB: Saeco Stratos in Spain and a Saeco/Estro Profi in the US.
BR: Who cleans the machine when Dede's gone?
MB: The thing that is nice about the Stratos is that it tells you when it needs cleaning. Which is good as we can avoid having mold in the used grounds compartment.
BR: How many times per week do you go out for dinner when Dede's gone?
MB: Well, I eat home just once or twice a week and that meal is usually a bowl of oatmeal or an omelet for dinner- I definitely eat a lot better when she is home.
BR: Great idea on the cycling book, Inside the Postal Bus. BiciRace.com thinks that there are great untold behind the scenes stories in cycling that need to be told. Is that what you are aiming to do in your book?
MB: When I was approached to write the book last June I agreed to do it as I thought it would be interesting to try and convey to the audience what it is like inside a professional cycling team. As I kid I devoured everything I could about cycling. I was especially attracted to stories about the pros away from the races, what they were like as people, what they did away from the bike, and what it was like on the team once the finish line was crossed. [In the book] I essentially take the reader through the last season of the US Postal team.
BR: Did you have any help with the book?
MB: George Hincapie, Christian Vande Velde and Dede all helped me out by writing sidebars, but other than that, I wrote the text. I had many friends and family read it over and help with the edits and Velo Press was also helpful with this.
BR: What has been the feedback so far on Inside the Postal Bus?
MB: So far it has been very positive. The readers have found it interesting to learn about the personalities within the team and to hear some of the stories you might not read in the cycling media. There is an excerpt from the book posted on the team website, The Paceline.com, and that has generated a lot of interest in the book.
BR: What is the team feedback on the book?
MB: George and a few of the other guys have read it and they said they enjoyed it.
BR: Discovery Channel did well up North in February at the Het Volk and Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne. Could you give BiciRace.com a brief wrap up of those two races?
MB: The weather was pretty miserable throughout the weekend with snow showers and a cold, frigid, wind. The team was in the front all day in Het Volk, but simply couldn't put it together in the final. We left the race disappointed and frustrated but also motivated for Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne as we knew that we were one of the strongest teams in Het Volk.
BR: Did the disappointment of missing out at the Het Volk help push the team to a win in Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne? What was your part in Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne?
MB: I didn't race in Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne as a few of us were swapped out for others but we all watched the race on television at Dirk Demol's brother's house in Kuurne. The guys rode really well as a team, covering all the moves in the final and then George won in style.
BR: When racing in the North on cold and nasty days what is the motivation inside the team bus to get out there and race hard?
MB: In Belgium it is easy because the crowds are huge and keep us motivated all day. I grew up in Toronto, Canada so a little cold doesn't bother me that much. In Toronto in the winter it is a warm day if is above -5-there will be a big group out for the ride in town as long as it isn't below -10. As a kid we would hit the roads in leather mitts with wool liners, balaclava's and several layers. Half-way through most rides we would stop for a coffee and donut while our feet and hands thawed out.
BR: Are you excited to be back in the North for some racing?
MB: Actually, I am at home [Spain] right now. I got sick yesterday morning and wasn't able to make my flight to Belgium today as I had a high fever all night. It seems many of the guys have fallen ill in the last week and the team is a bit down at the moment. I did a great training ride on Wednesday and felt pretty good but now it is all I can do to get out of bed.
BR: Tell us how Dwars door Vlaanderen went for you (23 March)?
MB: I wasn't scheduled to race there but from what I heard Roger was in fine form and narrowly missed the win.
BR: 3 Days of De Panne is a big race that is usually considered as an indicator of who will be on form for the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. With George's win last year at De Panne, is Discovery Channel motivated heading into this race?
MB: Well, honestly, right now there are so many guys that are sick so I am not sure how the team will perform next week.
BR: After Belgium, you shift to Georgia before doing your first Giro d'Italia. BiciRace.com is really excited for the upcoming Giro. Are you motivated?
MB: I am sure we are going there [Tour de Georgia] to win the overall and I will be there to support our leader, who will most likely be Lance. The race looks hard and looks to be ideal for fine tuning before the Giro.
BR: What will be your aims in the Giro? Any chances we can see you pull off a stage win?
MB: I am really motivated for the Giro. I have never raced it before, but I love Italy and have always loved watching the race on TV. We are going there to win the overall with Paolo, so I will be there to support him. If the opportunity is there for us to go for stages, I will definitely, try but my priority will be to support the leader.
BR: Will we be cheering Tom Danielson or Paolo Salvodelli over the Stelvio in the pink jersey?
MB: I think there is a really good chance of that. I just watched Tom on TV racing in Setmana Catalana and he was really strong. He can climb well and is learning quickly so I wouldn't be surprised to see him fly at the Giro. And we all know Paolo has a good shot at winning.
BR: Changing a flat, start at the valve or end at the valve when putting in the tire?
MB: Start at the valve.
BR: Are you still the record holder on Amer, or did Floyd Landis beat your time?
MB: No, rumor is Tom Danielson crushed the record last week.
BR: Good luck with your upcoming baby. Are you excited?
MB: Really excited. I can feel him kicking in Dede's belly now and we went for the ultrasound the other day which was awesome as well.
Thanks for reading and please check out Michael Barry's website.