Philip Deignan Interview - Part 2


03/15/2010| 0 comments
by Thomas A. Valentinsen
Philip Deignan (Cervelo TestTeam). Photo copyright Tim de Waele.
Philip Deignan (Cervelo TestTeam). Photo copyright Tim de Waele.

Philip Deignan Interview - Part 2's Thomas A. Valentinsen talks with Cervelo TestTeam's Philip Deignan in Algarve, Portugal about riding for Cervelo TestTeam, his preparations and goals for the 2010 season, about almost quitting cycling, and about escaping to Europe without telling your parents.

Click here for part 1 of our interview with Philip Deignan (Cervelo TestTeam).

Returning to your current team, in your opinion how is Cervelo TestTeam more scientific and technological than previous teams you've been with?

In that we do so much testing with the equipment. We've really got the best of everything. The best bike, the best frame (Cervelo), the best wheels (Zipp), best components (SRAM). Add the Castelli clothing and I think we just have that little bit extra of everything that gives us an additional advantage and a mental boost as well. Then you have the training as well. I have my own coach in Ireland and the team is always looking to see what sort of training you're doing and there's focus on the nutrition as well. For instance, before I joined Cervelo TestTeam I didn't really take any protein drinks and didn't focus a lot on nutrition. Now, as soon as I come home from a hard training session I take a ZipVit protein drink. It's small things like that which I didn't use to do before. I do so now with my new team.

Is there more attention to detail?

Yes. Going to bed early, getting a good night's sleep. All those small things that all make a big difference.

I've been told that you're hoping to be able to focus on one week stage races during the 2010 season.  The spring season obviously features races such as the 2010 Paris-Nice and the 2010 Tirreno-Adriatico prominently in the race calendar. Also the Vuelta a Murcia. Why is it that you want to focus on one-week stage races this season?

Because they suit me better than any other races. Any race where I've done well has usually been a week long. So stage races seem to suit me. Up until the 2009 Vuelta a Espana I've always struggled really with three week tours because they are just so long and I usually had a bad day or two over the course of three weeks. This has changed a bit now, but I still think that the races best suited to me are about a week long.

Is this part of the reason why you've intensified your focus on time trial training in order to avoid time loss in this discipline?

Yeah, well that's always been a little bit my weakness as well, so I'm really going to start working on time trialing now. I don't think it was a mental weakness, just a physical one. I mean I'd just go out and ride as hard as I could, but I just wasn't fast enough. I might get nervous before a time trial, but sometimes that nervousness actually helps you go faster and it wasn't a hindrance to my time trial performance. Power and bike position are the main problems that I'm working on correcting. This year all Cervelo TestTeam riders are going to get a Cervelo P4 time trial bike for us to keep at home, which most of us didn't last year.

Are your time trial limitations the reason why you're currently working on improving your core strength in the gym?

Yeah well, it's not just for time trialing but for ever part of road racing. It's something that I never really use to focus on. I didn't think it was important in the past, but I've spoken to a few people about it and it's something I should have worked on in the past. Strengthening the core, which is the abdominal muscles, the lower back and the shoulders a bit, stops you from moving around on your bike and causes all the power to go directly to the pedals. I'll try to continue this core stability training about three times a week if I can during the season. I'm using a Swiss ball and have like five or six exercises that I can do at home. When I was back in Ireland I was working with the Northern Ireland Sports Institute, which gave me a few different exercises to do also.

Do you view your focus on one-week races as a stepping stone towards future GC ambitions in the grand tours such as the Tour de France and the Giro d'Italia?

Before the 2009 season I would have said no, because I always had three or four bad days in three week tours where I had to go groupetto and lost a lot of time, but the 2009 season kind of opened my eyes a bit. Finishing 9th overall in the 2009 Vuelta a Espana has made me think that maybe I can do it, but in this team of course Carlos (Sastre) is the number one guy, so if I take part in any three week Tour it will be to help him obtain additional successes. So at the moment I'm not thinking about my own grand tour ambitions, but I'm 26 now so I think it will take quite a few years to build up the needed strength. Who knows - perhaps I'll get to see what I can do in a three week tour in 2012. The Tour (de France) is obviously the greatest bike race in the world, so if I could choose one I would choose the Tour (de France). My success in stage 18 of the 2009 Vuelta and the GC has definitely made me look at stage races in a different way than I did before.

Motorsport and rally are two of your hobbies so you obviously enjoy adrenaline kicks and action. Are your parents happy that you chose cycling over motorsport and how did they react to your decision to become a pro cyclist?

They did not have a lot of knowledge about cycling to start with, so when I first told them that I wanted to go to France and cycle they didn't really understand because they obviously wanted me to go to university. You know for a time they actually thought I was still in university, but I was in France racing. So for like a month I was racing in France and they still thought I was in England studying, so they weren't too happy when they found out that I had left university. I was just 20 and I couldn't get the courage to tell them that I had left university.

So how did your parents find out?

Oh I just had to call them after a few weeks because they kept ringing the place where I was supposedly staying in England for university and asking for me and I wasn't there, so I had to eventually call them and tell them that I was in France racing. Any parents want their child to get a solid and stable upbringing and a good education, so cycling probably doesn't really fit into that category. It's dangerous and careers don't really last too long, so they weren't very happy to start with, but now they understand the sport a lot more, so they are ok about it now.

Thank you for taking the time to talk with us at I wish you great success in the 2010 season and beyond. Good luck with your GC ambitions Philip.

You're welcome - and thank you!

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