Friday 28 January 2011

article for British Cycling website

I caught up with Garmin-Cervelo Professional Daniel Lloyd just back from a ten day training camp in Spain. With the new season just around the corner he was putting the finishing touches to his winter preparation. A 5 Hour ride on Sunday was followed by 2 hours easy on Monday; it felt hard enough to me but in his new team kit and riding smoothly, it was obvious Lloyd was in good shape. As we rode through the New Forest on a dull January day, Dan reflected back on last season. A year that saw him ride the Giro d’Italia for the second time and the Tour de France. “I loved riding the Grand Tours and in particular the Tour de France, however I had done so much racing by July last year that I don’t think I was in top form. Other guys were saying they thought the Giro had blunted their form for the Tour but none of them had ridden the Dauphine in-between like I had” I felt good at Dwars Door Vlaanderen in the spring and rode away from some big names” but I never felt I had the legs of 2009. Lloyd is perhaps being hard on himself; he crashed heavily on stage two of the Tour de France as a host of riders came down on a descent made slippery with oil from a motorcycle outrider who had also crashed. “I left quite a lot of skin on the road and was hampered with a groin strain for the first ten days.”
Looking forward to the coming season, Daniel talks passionately of the Belgium Classics, particularly the Tour of Flanders, you get the impression he loves this race. Success would mean “Still being up there to help the team leaders after 220kms, over the Muur and the Bosberg”. He knows it will not be easy “With the Talent we have in the team competition for places is going to be tough, with Thor (Hushovd) in the rainbow jersey it will be a privilege to be on the start line” I am targeting good form for Paris-Nice, where we will have both GC riders and sprinters.” His early season programme will also include Le Tour Mediterraneen, Tour du Haut Var and Kuurne, Brussels, Kuurne. “After that, it will just depend how my form is” Ahead of that is another training camp Girona, Spain.

This season however, the Grand Tours may not feature for Lloyd, with his wife Lorraine expecting their second child in May his thoughts may be elsewhere come the Giro. “The team time trial at the tour is a real target for us and its not really my strength, I wouldn’t want to be the weak link” What about the Vuelta a Espana? “Yes possibly, and the worlds” The Olympics? “Of course, it is a huge goal to represent GB in London for the race but there are so many good Pros from Britain now that I will have to do something really special to earn my place”

I ask him what he thinks his strengths and weaknesses are. The reply is uncomfortably honest “Nothing and Nothing, I’m not really, really good at anything and I am not really, really bad at anything, its probably why it took me a while to land a contract with a top flight team but it is also the reason that they find me valuable now that I’m here ”

I find myself adding some answers of my own, determined, focused, hard working, professional, team player they read like strengths to me. Sporting graveyards are littered with talent that lacked application. His honest, relaxed, laid back manner and willingness to “do the sponsorship stuff” must be a joy to his Directeur Sportif

The 2011 season will be his 8th year as a Pro and his 10th as a full time bike rider since racing in France in 2001 as a twenty year old. In a career that has taken him around the world, Lloyd hopes to continue in the Pro Peloton for another “8 or 9 years” and “with not too many hard miles in his legs” believes he can, and why not? he clearly loves his job.

Those of us of a certain age might well look at the former part-time window cleaner and think “I could have done that” the reality is certainly somewhat different, the message for aspiring younger riders however is patently clear, Don’t dream the dream, Chase the dream! Live the dream!

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