The following interview is by Andy Morris of Blue Ridge Outdoor Magazine (USA)
How seriously did you take the prospect of being able to ride in
Europe this season?
I was due to come here with the US National Squad, but I didn't expect to get a ride with a big team like this - especially one that speaks English!
Had you built a training plan around it or were you expecting to
I've been training and racing a few circuits back home, but I wasn't really ready for these kind of races.
Going from the Jefferson Cup Road Race to the Tour de Vendee is a
big jump--how did that race feel?
Do you feel that your training is on par
with the guys who've been in Europe over the winter?
Nowhere near, not even same ballpark, but I have got speed and souplesse, it's the miles I need.
How do you feel about the prospect, and your preparation, for
riding in the Giro?
I'm unlikely to go to the Giro in my current un-raced state. I'd love to do it, but I think it would be a struggle. Sean Yates will decide - if he thinks I'm ready or not I'll follow his judgement. He's the man.
How did Noel de Jonckeere come up with your name to recommend for
Noel's goal is to get guys jobs with pro teams. Once they get to 23 (like me) there's a big danger they'll be lost to the sport, so he's very keen to keep them at the forefront.
Would you characterize your 1998 experience in Europe as
successful, and how did that year shape your thoughts about being able to
come back to Europe?
I was pretty low when I came back from Italy. I kinda guessed that that was it, and I wouldn't be coming back. But at the back end of last year I started to come round, and I thought, "Hey, I can still do this."
What's your status at Appalachian State--do you intend to return
at some later date?
I'm determined to finish - I just had to grab this opportunity when it presented itself. They don't come by too often! If I'm not going to the Giro, maybe the team will let me come back to finish up. They're really understanding, they realise what I've given up to fly there at 2 minutes notice, and they will help me out if they can.
Thanks Matt - good luck over there.
Wasn't this somewhat late to be picking up a new rider? Why was the team
still shopping around?
We weren't certain that we would get in the Giro, but we knew that if we did, we could look at strengthening the squad. Also, Spencer Smith's decision to return to triathlon meant that we could look at bringing somebody else in, looking really at preparing for 2001 as well as the short term.
How many riders are competing for how many slots for the Giro team for
We have a current roster of 11 riders, with 9 places available.
Any way of assessing the likelihood of Matt joining that
In the wake of Vendee and Camembert, we have a much clearer picture of Matt and his capabilities. We are very impressed with his attitude and commitment, which is second to none. He is also clearly very talented. We have decided that we definitely want him to remain with the team for the rest of the season, and if he continues in the same vein, then there is a good chance of next year too. However, I think that the Giro would be too long for him in his current low-raced condition. Both the daily stage distances and the length of the race make it difficult to select him. We would prefer him to go to the Tour of Serbia with our development squad to get the required miles in, then look to make a real impact in the Summer and Autumn races.
Di Canio Impresses...