Thursday, 12 July 2012 17:21
1. Tell us about your cycling beginnings. As far as I know, your first encounter with cycling was quite late, it only came after you had tried other sports.
You are right, I was doing all kinds of sports from my early age. I participated at various sporting clubs back at my Primary School – I played football, I did roller skating... In my teens it was pretty cool to roller skate, I even travelled to different Skate Parks all around the country. It was fun back at that age, but I’m happy I’d moved on. Some of the people I knew still stick to this way of life, just hanging around and doing really nothing. Nowadays I like to play ice hockey, or go hiking, go for a swim. I’ve been doing sports really from when I was a kid. My first cycling experience dates to times when I took my dad’s bike and just rode it around the city of Martin and it’s surroundings. My father used to ride a bike as a knee problems prevention caused by his ice-hockey background, so he had all the clothes and a decent bike. Once I took his cycling shorts and shirt and gave it a try. I appreciated getting to far away places for free and discovering remote areas and small routes around Martin. Later I started to follow cycling world as well. My favorite riders of that age were Pantani and Ullrich. I longed to race like them, so I entered my first competition, a time trial in Kláštor pod Znievom which I won. A year later I was offered to join a team CYS Žilina what I did and so I became a “licenced“ rider.
2. What memories do you have of your first years in Centre of Talented Youth in Cycling Team Žilina?
I didn’t spend much time in CYS Žilina. I entered the team in my second Junior year and since they don’t have any U23 riders, I had to leave after my first season. But I have to admit I learned a lot during this year led by Mr.Vyšňa and Mr.Novosad. They helped me with my training program, I was able to do training camps and go to races with them, they taught me a lot in my cycling beginnings. I even spent some of the training camps with nowadays celebrities Juraj and Peter Sagan. We had good times and a lot of fun trying cross-counry skiis for the first time in my life during one of the training camps. We stayed in a small challet in Štrba, not any bigger than 25m2, I believe it even belongs to the Sagans family. We had to walk to a nearby hotel to take a shower. It was great.
3. Entering the Elite Men category, you joined RCT Martin Team. How do you remember these days?
The year I entered Elite Men category, I didn’t have any licence. It was weird, but I actually didn’t know anyone racing from Martin. I didn’t know anyone, had no ideas and no experience as to how to look for a team. So I spent this year doing triathlon races – I even succeeded at some podium finishes at my age category. I joined the RCT Team a year later, thanks to Patrik Chlebo, member of a national cycling team of disabled persons. He’s still giving me a hand whenever needed. We talk about training plans, material. When I started racing, I participated at the amateur league or so called category Men B. I never thought I would ever race at a UCI world cup level. I mean I dreamt of it, but it seemed a mere vision. It was all the more difficult being the only elite racer in Martin. It was hard to train without having any benchmark to compare myself to and talking about races where you have to enter as a team of 6, it was really only a dream to me. However I do appreciate the times spent at RCT Martin a lot – I found people to talk to about training, I had somebody to travel to races with. Even today I like to train with these guys, they are good lads. I get a little help from them every now and then despite not being their rider anymore. They are also big fans of me and cheer me up – good guys that I’ve known for long now. It was actually them giving me my unpublishable nickname J.
4. Your first experience with Cycling Team Banská Bystrica was in exotic destinations such as Cameroun or Senegal. You were only hosting in Cycling Team B.Bystrica back then. What are your memories of those days?
That’s right. Martin Fraňo addressed me if I was interested to go with his team to a race in Cameroun followed by Tour de Senegal. I accepted immediately – there is no place for hesitation in life when there is an interesting offer such as this one that might not come again. I was a bit cautious and worried about those two destinations to be honest at first. It surely was a big shock for me entering Cameroun for the first time, but I enjoyed my stay there and returned to Africa twice already. I was very pleased by the atmosphere in the team – a brand new experience to me as until that time I used to race only on my own, not as member of a team. I met really nice people in the team. I have to confront my race calendar with my work, so I have to make many compromises – for example this year I will go to Tour de Cameroun and then save the rest of my holidays for Tour de Slovakia. I hope to return to Africa one day again – both race and the whole stay really impressed me. My memories are all the more positive since I’d done my first stage race there, with Tour de Senegal comprising of as much as 10 stages. I returned home completely tired and exhausted, but happy and full of new experience and sensations. I did have a great time.
5. You became a full-time member of Cycling Team Banská Bystrica after prooving your qualities and team spirit in elite races in Slovakia and during hosting in Tour de Cameroun, Tour de Senegal. Are you satisfied with your transfer?
As I said already, I am very happy to become a full-time member of the team. It’s a great bunch of peoplem, we have a great racing calendar with many exotic destinations as a bonus. I truly am very happy with our cooperation and hope the team will continue like this for a long time – in the bottom of my heart I hope for the background even improving. This team forces me to push my limits. I can see improvements in my performance level year by year what is caused by hard training, but for the most part by the good quality races. Slovakia is not a country of cycling, I am grateful for a Cycling Team Banská Bystrica functioning in these unfavorable surroundings. And I am happy to be part of it.
6. You are a sound member of the team, a truly exemplary team rider willing to help the team and its leaders at any time. How do you regard your season so far? Do you have any personal ambitions you would like to fulfill?
I guess everyone knows by now I’m not a natural born winner. I am here to help our leaders and to work for the team. I am fully identified with this objective and have no problems helping others. I remember assisting Jozef Palčák with his first UCI victory back in Tour de Senegal – I was working for him in a break-away throughout majority of the race and was very happy after he made it to the finish line as a winner. But of course, just like anyone else, I have my own personal goals as well. I wanted to participate and to finish Tour the Slovakia – I accomplished both these partial goals. My mind is now is set on Tour de Guyane in August. I’ll be there to help our sprinters and hope to attack and finish in a break-away at one of the stages.
This season has been really great so far. We are provided with great material and have many new sponsors. Our credit improved lately with Marting Haring’s victory in the most prestigious stage in a UCI race Sibiu Tour in Romania. We proved again we are able to beat even professional teams. It’s a bit sad our team has got better credit abroad than at home. The team is evolving in a great direction, I hope it will continue so longtime.
7. You work full-time, even night shifts. How do you manage to find the right compromise between work, training, racing at a good level and even your own private life?
You’re right, I work 3 shifts at an engineering company. It’s complicated. Not in terms of training, that I can fit in well. Problem is the right recovery – working at a factory is not the best regeneration one can get after a training. There is also a great difficulty getting enough holidays to participate at stage races – it’s a problem when one only has 20 days off and out of these 20 days, 9 days are assigned during the Christmas time. Very often I go to my night shift directly from a race. Sometimes I even dry my cycling clothes and wash my bike during a meal break at work. It’s not easy, but I try to cope with it. Luckilly I get along well with our Human Resource department, but still it’s complicated. We always try to find a way – sometimes I can take some time off without any salary reimboursement, sometimes I am allowed to make up for the hours missed. But than again I work longer hours and thus miss out on my training. Having any private life is thus completely out of question – I spend 8 hours at work then go training for 4 hours. When I get home I’m ready to fall asleep after my dinner. Time flies so fast, I sometimes don’t even know what day of the week is that day. I only have time for myself when racing at a stage race. Because I am so busy, I appreciate a lot when I find some time to take beer with my friends. I kind of got used to this stressful life – I guess I would get bored if I ever had more time. I have a dream though – to spend at least one full year as a pro rider. Just for a minimum wage, but with no other obligations – so that I could see my own limits and boundaries of my body. If being paid at least a minimum wage was ever the case at Cycling Team Banská Bystrica, it would be a huge challenge for me.
8. You’ve been on the national team several times, you’ve made it to races such as Tour de Guyane, Tour de Cameroun, Tour de Senegal, Tour the Slovakia. What other goals do you have?
I’ve been to several big races, even made it to the most important race in Slovakia. I want to take part in these races again in the next season and I want to be a helpful team member. My biggest challenge until the end of this years‘ season is Tour de Guyane in Latin America in late August. I will do my best to make it to the podium. It will be my third start at this race – I know the race and the countryside. It’s the kind of races I like, also they suit the whole team. I will do my best to prepare myself well for this race, I regard it as one peak of my season.