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Larry Warbasse – “I’d like to become a well-rounded rider”

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There’s a ‘new wave’ of US riders on the way up, we’ve already spoken to Messrs. Dombrowski and Boswell, who’ll bolster Team Sky for 2013. But BMC too are taking advantage of the new talent from the New World: 22 year-old Larry Warbasse from Dearborn, Michigan has just stepped up from the Swiss team’s US development team to the World Tour squad.

He took time to tell VeloVeritas about his big adventure as a stagiaire with the Pro Tour squad.

Larry Warbasse
Larry’s all smiles at the start of this season’s Liege-Bastogne-Liege. Photo©USACycling

Tell us a little about the BMC-Hincapie team please, Larry.

“The BMC – Hincapie Sportswear Development Team was new for this year, put together by George and Rich Hincapie, and in conjunction with BMC.

“I had been a development rider for BMC in 2010 and 2011 – last year I was the only development rider they were supporting.

“I raced mostly with the National Team but was supported with equipment and the like from BMC, and attended a couple training camps.

“I was planning on doing the same in 2012, but the Hincapies were putting together this new team, and I am pretty close with both of them, as I spent my past two winters in Greenville, SC, their hometown, so it was a logical choice and good fit.

“I still spent most of my time in Europe with the National Team, because I think that was important for my development, but the races I did with the BMC – Hincapie team, I had a blast.

“We had a good group of guys and some great staff.”

You rode stagiaire with the BMC Pro Tour squad at the end of 2012 – how was that, and in particular, how was Paris-Tours?

“Stagiairing was an awesome experience.

“At first I was a little unsure of it, there were a few times where I just felt like I had gone on too long in the season. I had never raced past the first week of September because I attended University until this year, and I struggled a bit. But those thoughts always run through your mind whenever you are suffering.

“I was extremely fortunate to do the northern races with many of the classics guys – they are so experienced, with guys like Michi Schar, Marcus Burghardt, Manuel Quinziato, and many others, all I had to do was follow them around, and I learned a ton.

“It kind of dawned on me after a few races that I really made the right decision. It will really help going into next year.

“Paris – Tours was pretty cool – and quite hard.

“It seemed like the gas was always on, Vacansoleil were driving it really hard at the beginning, and then in the middle, we had to do most of the chasing, as we didn’t have anyone in the break.

But I really enjoyed that, riding the front, I kind of got a taste of everything in my short time with the team.”

You did a power of work for Joe Dombrowski in 2012, you must enjoy the ‘team role’?

“Yeah, racing with Joe was great.

“It was a bit different for me from the year before, as I went into many of the races leading the team, but it is great when the team is doing well no matter who it is.

“If you’re going to be working for someone, it is awesome when they are such a good guy like Joe.

“I still got to have some fun with it, the Baby Giro was pretty cool, especially on the Gavia, our plan was for me to make it as hard as possible from the bottom and then for him to go. I rode pretty much out of my mind and when I pulled off, it was only Joe and two guys left.

“Then he went on to seal the deal.”

Larry Warbasse
Not looking quite so fresh at the finish of Liege-Bastogne-Liege. Photo©USACycling

You were top six in the Ronde de l’Isard, that’s not a flat race…

“Yeah, I love that race. The kind of rider I am, it seems that the harder it is the better, and the courses there are always pretty tough.

“The last day was epic, with temperatures never above 10 degrees C, rain, and even snow at the top of one of the climbs.

“I crashed at the beginning of the stage, then I got a flat tire on one of the climbs when attacks were flying, and somehow, I came back and on the final climb hit it as hard as I could.

“I put a couple of minutes into Chernetskiy, the yellow jersey, but unfortunately, I crashed again on the descent to the finish.

“I only crashed twice this season and both were on that day, so to finish 5th on the day and overall, I had to be happy.”

And top six in the Chrono Champenois – you can time trial too…

“Yeah, it seems that when I have a good day, I can do a pretty good time trial.

“That wasn’t all that often this year, but I felt really good that day.”

And top 20 in the Worlds – tell us about that one, please.

“The Worlds was a great experience.

“It was the first time I have been and I was happy to be there. We thought the course was going to be harder though, unfortunately there was a headwind at the top of the Cauberg so nothing could really stick.

“I was in bad position going into the hill the last time, so I regret not having been in a position to try anything there, but then I was in a good spot in the sprint. I was just kind of rolling in the group, but then our sprinter dropped his chain, so I decided to stand up and give it a go!

“Don’t really have much of a sprint though…”

How was Utah – was that your first taste of racing at than level?

“Utah was a great race to start with the pros.

“That was definitely the biggest race I had done until that point, but it was an easier step than going straight into a big European stage race.

“The altitude definitely makes it tough, but the roads are big, so positioning is easy, and I had gone there awhile before to acclimatise, so it wasn’t too bad.

“We won it too, with Johann Tschop, which was really nice in my first race as a stagiaire.”

Larry Warbasse
Salt streaks on the back of Larry’s jersey indicate the toll the day’s heat took on the riders at the Tour of Utah. Photo©Will Matthews

In the spring of 2011 you rode in the Dominican Republic then Croatia – pretty cosmo…

“Haha, yeah, that was a bit of an experience!

“The roads in the Dominican were pretty torn up, so there are a lot of crashes, which isn’t fun. I rode into a pothole about a meter wide at 50 kph. Not an awesome way to start the season.

“But it is nice to do an eight day race in February, it set me up perfectly for the spring.

“The race in Croatia is great too, nice roads, beautiful country, good courses. Not a bad place to be.”

How would you describe yourself as a rider?

“I would say I am more of a stage-racer than anything else.

“I can climb pretty well, time trial pretty well, and I’m not bad on the flats either.

“Unfortunately there aren’t many races in the Under 23s that suit my type of rider – they always seem to go one direction, climbing, time trialling, or sprinting.

“I wish we had one with lots of each!”

What’s your favourite type of race?

“Hard stage races.

“I love getting into the rhythm of a stage race: eat, sleep, race.”

What was your toughest race of 2012?

“That probably had to the the Baby Giro.

“We had everything, a 230 kilometre day, a stage on the Strade Bianchi, and the day we finished on the Gavia had 5000 meters of climbing.

“That was a lot.”

Do you have a coach? and what’s your training philosophy – old school miles or ‘hi-tech’?

“One of the great things about being in the BMC program the past few years is I got to work with Max Testa as a coach as well as Scott Nydam.

“I think Max is one of the most knowledgeable guys, and Scott helps me out a ton whenever I have questions, or just when I need someone to talk to!

“And I am definitely of the hi-tech philosophy.

“Everyone gives me a lot of crap for how much I like my power meter, but if you have technology available to you, why not make the most of it?”

Larry Warbasse
Larry Warbasse of the BMC U23 team gets in some training on the rollers during another rainy day in Belgium. Photo©Casey B. Gibson

How will you spend your winter break?

“This is the first winter I haven’t been at University, so I haven’t really known what to do.

“I’ve been off just a little over a week and I’m used to always being so busy, now I’m a bit lost!

“But so far I have spent some time at home, visited some friends from school, and just relaxed.

“It seems like I have so much energy I am going to have to find something to do!”

When and where is the first BMC training camp?

“The first camp is in December in Denia, Spain.”

Do you have an idea of your 2013 programme?

“That’s still to be firmed up, but I’ll know soon.

“I’m looking forward to getting stuck into whatever races I am entered for and learning as much as possible, no matter where they are.

“I’d like to become a well-rounded rider.”

The Lance situation – what’s your take?

“It’s tough you know. I think everyone kind of suspected it, but I don’t think anyone realized the extent of everything.

“That’s the real surprise.

“But the thing most people don’t realize before they go criticising away is that most of them, or most of us, wouldn’t even be in this sport if it weren’t for Lance.

“I wouldn’t have this chance to live out the life I’ve always dreamed about. He brought so much to the sport: money, fans, and recognition.

“It is hard to see it all torn to pieces.”

I read that when you’re out on the bike, you wave to all the other cyclists you pass – is that still the deal? and why?

“Of course that’s still the deal!

“I guess I am from a pretty small town where everyone waves and says hello to each other, even if they don’t know who they are. It just kind of translated to the bike.

“But many of my friends do the same, I guess we all have something in common, riding bikes, so why not be friendly and acknowledge everyone you see?

“Otherwise it would be quite lonely out on the road if we all just kept our heads down looking at nothing other than our power meters!”

We like the sound of this young man!  Thanks to Larry for using up some of his energy in talking to us, and we can’t wait to see how he goes with the ‘Bigs’ next season.

Ed Hood
Ed's been involved in cycling for over 45 years. In that time he's been a successful time triallist, team manager, and sponsor of several teams and clubs. He's also a respected and successful coach, and during the winter months can often be found working in the cabins at the Six Days. Ed remains a massive fan of the sport and couples his extensive contacts with an inexhaustable enthusiasm for the minutiae and the history of our sport.

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