January 18/08 11:31 am - The Hansen Interview: Mark Walters
Posted by Editoress on 01/18/08
Mark Walters Interview
by Matt Hansen
Mark Walters, having recently moved back to Canada, both to live, and race. I caught up with Walters, a rider with very impressive results in his career--who could have forgotten his incredible win at the USPRO Philly Champs--to talk about 2008.
Matt Hansen: You're back in Canada. How does that feel? Both racing and living? Pros and cons?
Mark Walters: Yes. My wife, Robyn and I have been back in Canada for two and a half years. I'm glad to be back, but the change is difficult, especially for my wife. We have also been building a house which is very hard. Between the financial stress and huge amount of work to be done, it makes for some hard times, but I think it will all be worth it in the end. I love the house. Despite the flatter terrain, training is better here since I have more people to ride with. I also just prefer Canada over the US.
MH: How did the whole R.A.C.E. thing come about?
MW: Steve Bauer called me back in June and asked if I would be interested. At that time I was interested, but I was also happy with the Kodak/Sierra Nevada Team and I don't like to make a habit of changing teams every year or two. However, late in the year, Kodak pulled it's sponsorship and the team folded, so I contacted Steve again. I took awhile to work things out, but I think I got a pretty good deal and I'm happy to have the chance to work with Steve. There's a lot to be learned from someone with his experience. Hopefully we can combine our talents and really help some of the younger members of the team step up to a higher level.
MH: Talk a bit about the market for pros in the states right now--lots of teams have gone belly up. What's the mood?
MW: 2007 has been one of the hardest years ever for professional cycling all over the world. There are many emotions flying around the heads of North American riders, ranging from anger to fear. Anger because many feel that the hit to the market is mostly a result of the doping scandals of the past couple years. There are many riders who still insist on cheating. Not only is it unfair to those of us who ride clean, but when they get caught, it's the clean riders who get hurt most by the damage the cheaters have caused the sport. The fear is mostly about trying to find (or keep) a job in a much poorer market. Hopefully this doesn't cause more riders to resort to doping. Most of the positive tests have been over in Europe and most people feel that the problem exists primarily over there, but I feel that it's becoming more and more of a problem here. Fewer tests are done in North America compared to Europe. All of the UCI events have testing, but most of the events that are sanctioned only by the USCF do not. This is mostly because of the cost. The level of testing really needs to be stepped up over here. More support is needed so the cost of testing is not such an issue.
MH: What are your highlights of 07?
MW: Obviously winning the first stage of Beauce and wearing the Yellow Jersey was a big highlight. 5th at Univest was a good day for me too. Mostly because it was such a hard day. Ryan Roth and I were 10 minutes down with 90km to go and by the end we had caught all of the breakaway except Will Frishkorn.
MH: Goals for 08?
MW: Philly and Nationals are always goals for me. Olympics are this year and I still haven't gone, so I'd like to make the Olympic Team. One of my roles on Team R.A.C.E. is to act as a mentor and leader to the younger riders. 2007 was the first time I was put in that position and becoming a better leader and mentor is also one of goals for 2008.
MH: How much longer do yourself racing?
MW:I have have no set age at which I will stop. As long as I enjoy it and can get a job, I'll keep racing.
MH: What do you do in your spare time these days?
MW:Pretty much all of my spare time (and then some) is taken up with my house. I'm doing most of the work myself and everything takes longer then I expect.
MH: R.A.C.E. --what's it like to be working with Steve?
MW: I haven't done much with him yet, but so far so good. He's really down to earth and I have lots of faith in his ability to move the team forward. He's very respectful to me and I like his approach to running the team. He doesn't pretend to know everything. I look forward to getting down to business.
MH: And Europe--are you excited to be bringing some young guys to Europe?
MW: Definitely. This will be a big step for them. We're already doing our best to make sure that it's not too much of a shock for them. It's quite a long trip so hopefully we can keep everyone's head screwed on straight for the whole time. The racing is hard, the weather is bad and there's a culture shock as well. It's sounds like we'll have a nice house over there, which makes a big difference.