Sam Bewley is ready to get stuck into his fifth Vuelta a Espana, with the Kiwi taking on the role o road captain in the service of his Mitchelton-SCOTT team with a diverse range of options. We took the chance to have a quick catch up with him.
From a GC focus for Esteban Chaves to possible stage wins in a number of areas, Bewley is front and centre in the middle of whatever the team decide to do. We got to ask a few quick questions to ‘Wagon’ as he gets ready for the opening team time trial; where he will take his place alongside teammate Dion Smith and compatriots George Bennett, Shane Archbold and Patrick Bevin as five Kiwis going up for the final grand tour of 2019.
All set to head off to the @lavuelta tomorrow. Looking forward to being back with the @MitcheltonSCOTT boys as always but also excited to be lining up as part of a 5 strong kiwi line up, not bad for a good old NZ.— SamBewley (@SamBewley) August 20, 2019
RC: First of all back to the Vuelta, without the pressure of having the defending champion; and with a team that looks like it could go any one of a few directions. As a road captain does it make the prospect of the Vuelta this year a little more fun?
Sam: It’s an important Vuelta for us in a few ways, it’s the first time some of the guys have ridden in a team with real purpose and direction so it will be a valuable learning experience for them. After winning this race last year and coming here this year with Esteban we are really looking forward to aiding him in his goals for this race. I enjoy being a road captain, it’s a role I’ve been doing more and more recently and have learnt lots over the past year or so in doing it so I am excited to be lead the riders group in that respect here.
RC: Explain a little what the responsibility of road captain is, how that looks on the road particularly on stages like in the mountains where you can’t be with your teammates or team leader at all times, and how involved the role of road captain is pre or post stage.
Sam: It’s an interesting role. Ultimately the overall tactics of a stage or the race as a whole comes from the director but as the captain you are certainly used in devising those plans a bit more. The role is primarily on the road, in situations where decisions need to be made quickly and certain actions that needed to be taken that the director can’t do from the car, that’s where I step in.
Also it’s important to lead in a positive way, keep the focus of the guys up on the bike and lead a little off the bike especially with the young guys being involved in a new and higher pressure grand tour. I like to make sure I understand the stages coming up so each night I will do some homework around that, it’s easier to make decisions if needed if you understand what that day’s stage is about. We have plenty of experience in the group so in situations like the mountains if I am not there Mikel Nieve will be and he’s also very good at that role.
Cool to think with those 5 guys we can be prominent if every part of the race. From the sprints to the TT’s to the mountains to me on bottle duty. Exciting times for cycling in NZ.— SamBewley (@SamBewley) August 20, 2019
RC: What are your expectations of the race in terms of difficulty and where the race could be won and lost compared to the last four you’ve raced?
Sam: The Vuelta is always a very dynamic race. The hard stages start almost immediately, it’s a long race so it is important to conserve early on but in a dynamic race like this you have to be ready to take opportunities on almost any day.
RC: Between yourself, Dion Smith, Julian Dean and Jack Bauer (not racing) it seems like it’s becoming a nice, gradual Kiwi takeover at Mitchelton-SCOTT! Are there certain characteristics that are somewhat uniquely common in your observation amongst Kiwi riders compared to the other nationalities you’ve raced with and against?
Sam: Kiwis have a pretty renowned ‘no bullshit’ mentality. We all like to get stuck into our jobs without hesitation or complaint, I think this is a pretty valuable asset and something that seems to be well respected.
Racing at the 2019 Vuelta a Espana begins on the evening of the 24th with an opening team time trial. We wish Sam and Dion, George, Shane and Paddy all the very best over the next three weeks.