Commonwealth champion Liam Killeen has been in the spot-light for his international off-road achievements but us ‘roadies’ had a few things to ask him at the 2007 Specialized launch. With the sponsorship of team Quickstep and all of the recent road focus from his team, Specialized, we wanted to know whether Liam would be turning his attentions to the road. And it didn’t seem entirely out of the question…
Obviously all eyes are on you for a world class performance this year, how do you cope with the pressure?
I think a certain amount of pressure is good for anybody if they want to perform, but it’s not a big deal. I guess I’ve always had goals and ambitions and so this year is nothing new.
Do you think your international status has made you a bit of a heart-throb?
I don’t think about it really, but yeah, I guess so! I guess if you’re in the media more you’re more exposed to that and so it’s one of the nice things that comes with that.
Did you see a big shift in your public profile as you were involved with more prestigious events and interviews?
I have to do more interviews now, but it’s just part of the job and I think Specialized are very good at marketing, they’re probably the leading brand at marketing and that’s what you sign up to, to be involved.
How have you found your level of involvment with the product development for Specialized.
Yeah, that’s something new for me, because before with other brands I’ve worked for we’d do a little bit but nothing to this extent. We wouldn’t go on tyre testing camps and we wouldn’t have direct input to the product development like Christoph and myself have to do now. So, I think if you want to have the best bike, ask the racers for their input because that’s the only way the bike really gets tested to the maximum.
What have been some of your proudest moments throughout your career so far?
I guess the easiest thing is to talk about my racing because I guess, ’06 was a good year for me. Winning the Commonwealth games and then winning Sea Otter was great for me and for Specialized, yeah they were fun times.
Following the Worlds what are some of your long term goals?
Beijing is important and the World Cup series is a goal of mine which I’d like to win overall. But to be consistent, to be in the top three, if you’re in any race situation you should be at the front or leading the race, so it’s a good work up series.
Is there anything specific you feel you need to work on to get that consistency in those races?
I guess each year you learn a little bit more about your training and what works for you. Sometimes my explosive power isn’t as good as others but it’s good to have things to work on. It’s something I’ll work on but really the race season is when you work on those things.
Obviously Specialized are sponsoring the road team Quickstep now, have you got any ambitions on the road front?
I do look at the road scene and think, that’s something I’d like to do but to be honest I haven’t done enough races at the moment to say I’d like to make the switch. But yeah, this year I may have some options to race some bigger road races and I definitely like watching road racing.
You often find that mountain bikers can be pretty good in other disciplines. I think it’s because mountain biking is so hard that switching doesn’t seem to be such a problem.
Is it true that mtb’ers often develop a better pedal stroke?
You tend to pedal a fuller circle, a more complete cycle and that’s what you strive to do on any bike.
Have you done any road racing?
Yeah, I’ve had some good results. In America mainly, just because I do that around races or longer spells in America. It’s good to fill the time.
Do you enjoy it or find they’re a bit dull by comparison?
No, I do enjoy it, I think because it’s a bit different. Yeah, hilly road races are good.
How does cyclocross in the winter affect your season? Does it affect you adversely?
It doesn’t really. I look at cyclocross as an hour of threshold training a week, it’s not very much and it’s not going to take the shine off. I think it’s good, otherwise, you get a little bit stale doing longer rides day in day out. I didn’t get the result I wanted at the nationals but to be honest I didn’t really enjoy the course as much as others. But next year could be good.