Viktor calls; “That home page on the site hasn’t changed for days. There’s a Scottish pro out training in Spain, Alex Coutts, trying to get ready for the season, why aren’t you talking to him?”
Just one of the things that bugs about Vik, is that he’s actually right a lot of the time!
Alex is indeed staying in Spain, with fellow Scot and VeloVeritas contributor, Al Hamilton.
It was Alex who answered the phone, Al couldn’t be bothered, he knew it was me – ah well.
Back to Giant Asia for 2010?
“Yes, I rode there in 2008 and they asked me to come back for this season – in 2009 they weren’t taking on foreign riders.”
How was the Greek team you were in last year?
“Not too bad; nice people but there were no team bikes and the programme was a bit empty, sometimes.
“I heard that the team was to amalgamate with a Belgian team for 2010 but I don’t know what’s happening.”
What about this house you’ve been renovating, in the Leadhills?
“I’m getting there with it, I got the property for a good price and I got a grant from Historic Scotland to do the renovation.
“It’s a nice part of the world and a good place to train.”
How’s the training going?
“I’ve been doing four or five hours a day; the first few days, I felt dreadful – I wasn’t getting the miles in, with the weather in Scotland – but I’m feeling better, already.
“I’m actually not in too bad condition, so it shouldn’t take me long to get back into shape – it’s much easier, here.”
Have you seen any of the big squads out?
“I’ve seen Katyusha and QuickStep out, but going in the opposite direction.”
The Games in Delhi?
“At the moment, it’s not on my agenda.
“It’s very hard to get on the team just now; but when I won the Tour of Thailand in 2008, I applied to get on the squad, but no dice.
“I’d like to go, I’ve heard that the course is flat, but I’d be happy to work for someone like Evan Oliphant who suits that style of course.
“Remember that I raced with Flanders for three years and DHL for a season in Belgium; if I couldn’t have handled flat races, I wouldn’t have lasted there.
“But to tell the truth, I haven’t thought about it much.”
How many years have you been a pro, now?
“I’ve been with Continental teams for eight years.
“It’s a lot harder now to get a team than it has been, there’s the same number of riders, but fewer teams.
“I used to get a bit depressed about having to come back and race in Scotland, but these last few years, I haven’t minded it.”
What was your best result in 2009?
“It doesn’t sound amazing, but I got 8th on stage one of a UCI 2.1 in Poland.
“I only got picked up at the airport at 03:00 and the race started at 09:30. I was 13th on GC but the race was largely decided on bonuses. I was 5th on a stage in the Tour of Serbia and I got a few top 10’s in UCI events.”
Goals for 2010?
“To do well in our stage race programme; we have Langkawi and the Qinghai Lakes – Giant do all the best stage races in Asia.”
Do you have an agent?
“No, I’ve thought about it, but I wouldn’t know how to go about getting one.
“The thing is, I’ve never left a team that wouldn’t have me back – look at Giant; they have respect for me and asked me to come back.”
What about a coach?
“Not previously, but I’ve began to work with Roddy Riddle, it’s a mix of old and new; miles, intervals but no SRM’s or the like, they’re expensive – if it’s a choice between porridge and power cranks, I have to eat!”
Endura; were you disappointed not to get the call?
“No, not disappointed at not getting the ride, but I am disappointed that there were people saying things behind my back, to the team, saying that I was a selfish rider.
“I have a lot of respect for Jim McFarlane at Endura; but if other people have got things to say to me, then say them to my face.
“In the Tour of Thailand, I had Dave McCann and the team helping me – that wouldn’t have been the case if I’d been selfish, would it?
“There’s no way he would have worked for me.”
Are you on the Whereabouts System and Biological Passport?
“No, it’s not something you need at Continental team level and it’s expensive – back to me needing my porridge, again.”
“We have a two day in India, then it’s Langkawi. I rode there two years ago and was 17th, I ended up in the ambulance after one stage, with the heat and humidity.
“But I spent the whole season in Asia that year and you become accustomed to the climate.
“It’ll be hot at The Games, but that would hold no worries for me, not after my experiences in Asia.”
And how’s Al’s mood?
“Not bad, he’s been quite chirpy, he’s cuddling his cat just now – wait a minute… he’s making gestures at the phone!”
Wishing Alex ‘all the best’ for 2010 and with thanks to Al for organising the interview.