Canadian pro Michael Barry has just made the move from Discovery Channel to T-Mobile, we caught up with him as he prepared for his first season in pink, and asked about his British roots;
RCUK: After spending so long with USP/DISCO how did the T Mobile deal come around?
MB: My contract was up at the end of 2006 and there were a few teams that I was interested in racing for; T-Mobile was one of them. My wife, Dede, raced for T-Mobile for three seasons and had a great experience with them; the women’s team was managed by Bob Stapleton, and she has great respect for him, which is one of the reasons I was comfortable going there and confident the program would be well organized and directed.
RCUK: With Bob Stapleton’s envolvment and all the new Anglofile riders it seems there is quite a US set up at the team – is it a lot different than before?
MB: Yes, most of the directors are new and some of the staff are new as well; the roster of riders has changed a lot and there are now 13 new riders on the squad. The spoken/working language within the team is English and nearly all of the riders are fluent in English, so it won’t be much of a transition for me in that respect.
RCUK: What have you been doing so far with the team, is it very Germanic?
MB: We had a three-day meeting in Lugano, in October, and the atmosphere amongst the riders and staff was really good. It is a well-organized squad and they seem to have covered every detail. Our families were welcome in Lugano, which surprised me, as most cycling teams tend to dislike any girlfriends or wives to be around, it was a great weekend and it was nice for us to get to know each other and also each others’ families which I think was important for the team building process.
RCUK: What are your plans and schedule for 2007?
MB:I spoke with the directors in Lugano and we sketched out the program for the first half of the season; I will start at the Tour of California and then head overseas for Paris-Nice, Pays Basque, the Ardennes Classics, the Tour of Romandy, the Dauphine Libere, and then the Tour de France. I plan to be in great condition for California, the Ardennes Classics and then the Dauphine and Tour.
RCUK: Will you still be based in Girona?
MB: Yes, we are comfortable there for the moment and we have many friends in town.
RCUK: We hear you’re practically a Brit?
MB: I am; well, I carry a British passport. My father was born and raised in Wimbledon and moved to Canada in the late sixties. He raced as a teenager at a good level in England before moving overseas. In Canada he set up a bike shop and builds handmade bicycles called Mariposa. We still have many close friends, and some family, in England.
RCUK: What would you change from the past few years, if you could go back?
MB: Nothing — I try to never look to the past, and I can’t complain about a thing.
RCUK: At last you are up for the Tour? Will this be your ultimate cycling high?
MB: Yes, I am scheduled to ride the Tour and yes, this is a dream of mine which I have had since I first started pedaling a bike and looking at photos of the pros when I was five years old.
RCUK: Who and why have been your top 6 riders from 2006?
MB: Oh, I don’t know — I saw many impressive performances in the last year but I don’t want to single out six riders. Sometimes it is a domestique pulling on the front for hours that is impressive, sometimes it is an attack in the final… it is not only a victory or palmares that impresses me, but an astounding physical and tactical performance.
RCUK: What are the best and worse things about being a pro rider?
MB: The best part of being a pro is riding my bike; it is a great thing being paid to do what you love. The worst is the association with drugs, it is depressing that our sport is nearly synonymous with doping, yet hopefully this will change in the next year or two. It has to change.