The 2014 Giro d’Italia was a brilliant race, so good in fact that a lot of good racing came to be ignored. Take ex-Raleigh man, and Six Day rider Daniel Holloway’s (Athlete Octane & USA) setting fire to the Speed Week criteriums series in the USA.
‘Hollywood’ first caught the eye as US Novice 500 Metre Time Trial Champion on the track in 2003; by 2005 he’d won a stage in the Canadian Tour de l’Abitibi – ‘the junior Tour de France.’
In 2008 as a stagiaire with Garmin he won four US national championships on the track – team pursuit, scratch, points and madison.
The following season saw a fifth place in the tough Mei Prijs in Belgium behind fast man Denis Flahaut, a stage win in the Tour de la Province de Namur and two stage wins in the Spanish Vuelta a Palencia.
The win for which he is perhaps best known came in 2010 when he took the US Elite Criterium Championship riding for Bissell.
But 2011 with Kelly Benefits was compromised by illness, albeit he won two stages in the Tour of America’s Dairy Land.
A stage win in the Tour of Mexico was a good start with his new Raleigh team for season 2012 but the largely one hour criterium based UK scene wasn’t totally to his taste so for 2013 he was back in the USA riding amateur.
The second half of 2013 however saw him back in the full pro ranks with Amore & Vita and despite riding race as prestigious as the Coppa Agostini and GP Costa Degli Etruschi he couldn’t get the full race programme which he needed.
Athlete Octane Cycling is his team for 2104 and things couldn’t be going much better.
We thought we should have a word with him about his success, the the US criterium scene; and of course – his beloved coffee.
Tell us about ‘Speed Week’
“Speed week is a great race series down in the South East of the USA.
“The main event is the grandaddy of all criteriums, Athens Twilight – I’d put it up against any crit around the world.
“All of the courses and venues are great, it was my first time down there and I had an absolute blast.”
You won: Athens Twilight, Historic Roswell, Downtown Walterboro, Spartanburg Regional Classic and Gaffney – is that correct; and what’s you’re favourite of those five?
“I was actually second at Gaffney – Mac Brennen (Bissell Cycling Team) had a stellar ride and snuck away in the last five laps to win. I lost a lead out guy with three laps to go with a flat; we may have caught him if Chad didn’t flat.
“Athens hands down may be my new favourite race.
“The atmosphere there is beyond anything else other than possibly Manayunk wall at Philly.
“I have heard great things about Cry Baby Hill at Tulsa Tough, so I will see what that’s all about in June.
“But Athens has the history, the legend, the ‘IT’ factor. You talk to any serious crit guy in the US and they want Athens on their resume.
“So many Legends have won that race (Danny Clark, Alex Stieda, Malcolm Elliott, Chris Horner to name but four, ed.) and I’m blessed to be on that list.”
What’s the atmosphere like at an established US crit?
“If it’s an amped venue, the riders know the prestige of the event; the fans know that is a big event and we end up feeding of each other.
“It is like a drum, the harder you hit the drum the louder it gets.”
You won the Dana Point criteriums – that’s at higher level, isn’t it?
“Dana Point is a NCC (National Criterium Calendar) ranked crit, so teams like United Healthcare can race them, which in turn makes it a higher level.
“It’s still a “new” event in the US but is gaining a ton of traction from both the racers and the local community.
“It’s been growing every year, I can’t wait to see what it’s like in five years.”
Dana Point – you were against the all conquering ‘Blue Machine’ of the United Healthcare crit squad – not easy…
“You had UHC there and 100 plus other guys. To the racers in Southern California, that is the crit to get a result in. They race to a higher level at Dana Point for sure.
“UHC was down a man to five but we only had three there. We just had to race smart and put as much pressure on the field as we could; never let the race settle down and find a rhythm.
“I had some of the best legs I’ve ever had, and what a day for them to show up, just can’t be happy enough about it. I’m sure my coach Colby Pearce knew though – ha, ha.”
Tell us about your team – Athlete Octane.
“This team has been a blessing, truly.
“Chad Hartley wanted me early last year but I was already committed to a team.
“We stayed in touch all year and built a relationship which in part turned into what we have this year.
“I brought on a few sponsors to the team that have taken care of me and are simply amazing products – Osmo Nutrition, FastForward Wheels, Speedplay pedals, Ritchey Logic.”
Do you think your winter Six Day rides helped you to be riding like you are?
“Oh for sure. Having 24 race days in my legs before team camp was awesome!
“I’m a bike racer, I love racing my bike. I had a very slow second half of the year, last year, so it was nice to have the Sixes.
“Maybe it’s just all a perfect storm right now. Colby has laid out a great plan for me to follow for the upcoming block of racing. I’m just taking everything as it comes, good or bad.
“I have a lot of momentum behind me right now, I believe in me, my team mates believe in me, my sponsors have been incredible with support, our team sponsors have been amazing, the fans; I just can’t say enough about it all.”
Will we see you in the ‘races to nowhere’ this winter?
“I sure as hell hope so!
“I felt I rode well last season, I want to go back and move up ladder. Put my head down and work, show the established guys I belong and maybe make them hurt for a couple laps a night.
“Hopefully I can get a couple contracts early so I can try and get a handful of American fans in the stands that want to come watch a Yank race a Six.
“They need the time ahead to get off work and make a plan – I’m ready to fly over tomorrow if needed, ha, ha.”
What did you do after the Copenhagen Six Day?
“I went back to Maine to spend time with my girlfriend Andrea who is in Med School.
“It was nice to be in a mellow place, the weather was not great so I didn’t feel bad for taking time off the bike, even though it was planned.
“I got to relax and enjoy just coming back from the Sixes; normally you jump right into road stuff, so it was great to look back at the Six Day season.”
Have you changed your training at all – more speed work?
“After the Sixes I just did longer road miles with climbing to build the endurance and strength back up.
“Then pretty much into racing, the first races I was a bit sluggish but the speed came back pretty quick.
“Now it has just been a race-recover type program.”
How does the US crit scene differ from the GB one?
“The courses for one are a lot different.
“We race 100 plus guys in the fields here; the UK Tour Series is only 60 if I remember correctly? (I did hit my head a couple times over there).
“Our courses tend to be wider, so going two or three riders wide around corners is very normal. In the UK, it was pretty narrow and the guys didn’t really seem to like going two/three wide through the corners.
“Would be great to have a couple of the top UK crit teams come over and race, and then a couple of the top US crit teams head over there and try their hand.
“The UK really has the TV coverage aspect down but the US is getting better with the live streaming and coverage.”
Tell us about your bike – any crit specific stuff on it – high bracket, short cranks?
“Nothing terribly specific. I have my position more dialled in to being in the hooks 95% of the time during the races. Like most of the sprinters I’m running Shimano Di2; I’ve got the sprint shifter buttons by the thumbs.
“The team runs Speedplay pedals; most of the guys are running the narrow Q-factor set up too so we aren’t clipping pedals around the corners – it’s so crucial in starting the sprint early out of the last corner and not worrying about clipping a pedal.
“I have my bike set up with one cage, keeps the look a bit more tidy, and I’ve been told by the guru’s that one cage is faster. I have a few bits of Ceramic speed, bottom bracket and rear mech. pulleys.
“Overall the bike is built to be durable, I ride an aluminum cockpit; if the worst happens and I get caught up in a crash, I want the bike to be able to come out in one piece.”
Any track ambitions this year?
“I would love to hit the track in the US, but it just seems that the racing conflicts with the major crit stuff.
“I’d love to do some World Cups and possibly the Worlds, but with the new qualification requirements and the limited amount of qualification events in the US, it makes it really hard, really makes things difficult.
“It may make sense for Europe, but doesn’t quite work for us over here.”
What’s on the Daniel ‘to do’ list for the rest of 2014?
“The ‘to do’ list is to keep having fun, being consistent, keep drinking Bulletproof coffee every morning.
“Keep promoting the teams sponsors, my sponsors, keep winning races. I’d like to get to 20 wins this year, I’m at 10 now.
“It’s not a huge focus, I don’t want it to consume me or have it hanging over my head but it would be nice.”
Any new caffeine information/chat for us?
“upgradedself.com has all your caffeine needs!
“Coupon code: dhollywood will get you a nice little discount. Adding grass fed butter to your coffee will change everything!
“It’s no longer a secret; I just hope the guys I race against don’t start.”