One of the names missing from Gila (one of the big US early season races) is that of Bissell’s, 21 year-old Paddy Bevin.
The New Zealander preferring to keep closer to sea level as he starts his build up for the Tour of California.
Bevin chose the US rather than Europe as a stopover on his journey to the World Tour and has seamlessly made the transition from promising Kiwi junior to NRC (US Premier Calendar equivalent) danger man.
His first major home result came with a stage of the Tour of Canterbury in 2008.
The following year he became Oceania junior road race champion and took two stages in New Zealand’s flagship event – the Tour of the Southland.
Two stages followed in the 2010 Tour of the Vineyards (NZ) before he moved to the US and won the NRC Grand Cycling Classic.
Snapped up by strong US domestic team Bissell, the progression continued in 2011 with a raft of NRC results; a Southland stage and second overall then a stage and the GC in the Vineyards.
This season, his US season started with a bang!
He took two stages and the GC in McLane Pacific Classic then three stages and second on GC in the Redlands Classic.
Why the USA, Paddy?
“I’m chasing a career to the top level of cycling.
“When I got out of juniors and faced with the prospect of riding overseas I picked the US.
“I looked at what the likes of Julian Dean and Greg Henderson had done and went from there; I could see a defined pathway to follow.
“There are plenty of top level bike races in the US that allow you to shine.
“As a young Kiwi it is still a culture shock and you have to mature quickly to survive, overall it’s a good balance of conditions to be in.
“Bissell is a very professional set up, so that can only help that transition higher up when it comes.
“Every year I a little part of me wants to pack my bags and hit Europe straight on, mainly for the ‘ethos’ of European bike racing but I am patiently making headway here.”
How did you get organised in the first instance – where was, and is your US base?
“First team was ‘Rubicon-Orbea’ run by Dave and Norrene Godfrey in Vancouver, WA.
“It was a very fun set up to be involved in and I will always be very grateful to the leg up I got with that team.
“We had a great time with three kiwis on the squad.
“Then I spent last season in Boulder and now I am based in Santa Rosa, CA. where as long as I am riding in the US I will be based – I love it here.”
How did you get the Bissell ride?
“I raced against the Bissell team a couple of times; in the Tour of Southland at the end of ’09 and then in the Singapore Criterium 2010.
“I stepped off the plane in the US with some good form after that, while racing with Rubicon.
“Bissell signed me May that year.”
This is your third season – how has the team changed in that time?
“Bissell always been one of the strongest teams and that’s not changed much.
“I think the team has developed into a more all round team in the last two seasons.
“We can turn up to any race in the US with a squad that is going to be a factor.”
Has the 2012 Bissell ‘down size’ affected things?
“So far I don’t think so; I feel that for our race calendar having 15 guys was a little too much.
“The way it is now – we have a more compact squad and are doing very well.”
The team runs some nice hardware.
“I don’t think I would change much about my Pinarello, no.”
You had a very strong New Zealand summer season; winning the Tour of the Vineyards and second in the Tour of the Southland – tell us about those performances, please.
“Last season was a tough one for me; I changed too much with my US season.
“I moved to Boulder and then just struggled with training and never hit my stride race wise.
“By the time I got home I was 100% in for Southland. I love that race, what it stands for and what it says about bike racing in NZ.
“It’s a tough one to win as there are a lot of windy stages punctuated by two tough uphill finishes, second on GC with a stage win were a very satisfying way to finish the season.
“The Tour of the Vineyards came after a break and was purely Nationals building.
“It was nice to know that my training was going superbly.”
And then you started very strongly in the US with two stages and the GC in the McLean Pacific Classic then three stages and second on GC in Redlands – tell us about those performances, too.
“The plan for 2012 was to come out swinging.
“I finished my season late and with a flourish so even after four weeks off the bike at the end of the season it took very little time to come back up for our Nationals.
“This was followed up by the UCI 2.2 Tour of Manawatu in NZ and shortly after I found myself in the US for team camp.
“Redlands was the first really big goal (and I had the U23 Tour of Flanders two weeks later, so had lumped those together). I was feeling great for Redlands, had a rubbish TT which took a bit of wind out of my sails but made up for it from there.
“I had fantastic support from my Bissell team and just got a run at each stage finish.
“To win on Sunset on a day that was brutal, wet and cold was an amazing feeling.
“That is the type of day I really excel at and I didn’t need to be asked twice by the time selections were being made late in the race.”
Doesn’t the momentum of your NZ form fade?
“It does, for sure, but a lot of the NZ racing was a bonus to me (and a little bit bittersweet) I was riding well but everything was based around my US season – so it was all ‘foundation’ work.
“The US season has become a bit tougher for a guy like me; I have a huge block coming up with California, Philly and Nature Valley.
“Then I have some time off and have to work out how to approach the rest of my season where almost all the big racing is high altitude – Cascade, Utah, Colorado.
“That means I have the luxury of a mid season break and then almost a complete rebuild.”
You ride pretty much a 12 month season – how do you avoid staleness?
“I love racing my bike but it just depends on the situation.
“For me I just have to be honest about where I am at, take downtime when I get it and need it.
“Above all it’s about staying motivated.
“This season will be the longest and I won’t be repeating it season in season out.”
Did you ever consider the ‘usual’ track squad-based progression to road that many NZ pros adopt?
“I do enjoy the track racing and I did a Junior Worlds on the track as my second year Junior.
“I was a late comer to the track so a little bit out of step even by then.
“With how structured the national program has become it seems harder and harder to balance both.”
Do you have a coach – what’s your basic training philosophy?
“I have been self coached since August last year. I have had some great coaching support previous but now I am doing it myself and enjoying it.
“I train to power; I have done for the last four years now and subscribe to the ‘Functional Threshold’ – that’s key philosophy for me.
“My way of achieving that is a little different to most – I back this up with working on a long sprint.”
Do you miss ‘The Land of the Long White Cloud’ spending all that time in the US?
“Boy do I miss New Zealand!
“Nowhere else will ever be ‘home’ and I get excited about going home by the time the end of the season comes around.
“I enjoy the travel aspect of bike racing and have seen some amazing places in just the five years I have been racing.”
On the subject of amazing places- you rode the U23 Tour of Flanders, tell us about it.
“Absolutely loved that race!
“It was everything I imagined plus some.
“Sadly for me I wasn’t at 100%.
“Between a hectic start to the year and a bunch of long haul travel I had some back issues when I got to Europe.
“Nothing major but if you want a crack at a race as big as the U23 Tour of Flanders – you better be in tip-top condition.
“I loved Europe and enjoyed my time there immensely.”
Is a full time spot on the Euro stage something you’ve considered?
“That is the desired outcome.
“I know it seems a little bit counter-intuitive (being based in the US for now) but at the end of the day Europe is where I want to be.
“It’s all about progression, at 21 I think I have a little bit of time on my side and am happy with where I am just now.”
The US calendar is very criterium biased, would you prefer more road and stage races?
“I think the balance of races that Bissell rides is very productive for me.
“We do very few stand alone crits but every stage race going.
“The only thing that’s missing is big one day road races.
“More races like Battenkill and Philly would make for a very well rounded program.”
You’re riding Gila?
“After last season’s altitude experiment the team decided against sending me pre-California.
“I will have plenty of time to have a crack at the altitude game later in the season.”
Are Bissell in Tours of California, Utah and Colorado – will you train to peak for these races?
“We’re in for California (and were at both Utah and Colorado last year).
“California is certainly a big one for me.
“Utah and Colorado are a little bit outside of my element but races you gain depth as a rider from.
“To just survive I will have to be peaking.”
Which would be your dream race to win?
“Choosing one? Paris-Roubaix . . .”
Keep up to date with Paddy at his blog .