Toyota-United : "One of our goals - to be the best team in the United States"

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20.06.2007/ Toyota-United had a remarkable first season in 2006. In the first half of the current season the US continental team looks even stronger. Cyclingheroes spoke with Toyota-United team dircetor Harm Jansen.

Copyright Charles Herskowitz
Harm Jansen: we want to compete in some races outside the U.S. (picture: Charles Herskowitz)

More pictures at our Picture Gallery: Toyota-United rocks!

Cyclingheroes: The first half of the season is over, are you satisfied with the results of Toyota-United in the first part of the season? 


Harm Jansen: Absolutely. We are well on our way to accomplishing our primary goal, which is to win the team classification for the National Race Calendar standings. [Toyota-United has been first or second all season long.] Plus, we have scored victories in two ProTour [continental] events, the Amgen Tour of California and the Tour de Georgia. Of course, we’ve had a few injuries here and there, but you always have to account for that.


Cyclingheroes: After J.J. Haedo left the team to start a Pro-Tour adventure with CSC, Toyota-United still had Ivan Dominguez for the sprints. He is having a great season isn't he?


Harm Jansen: We’re very fortunate to have a rider as talented as Ivan. Unfortunately, he is injured at the moment. [Ivan Dominguez injured his back and ribs in a crash in mid-May at the Tri-Peaks Challenge.] He is a very important part of our success and we hope to have him back racing with us by the first week of July.

Harm Jansen (picture: Toyota-United)

Cyclingheroes: How important were the stage wins at the Tour de Georgia and the Tour of California for the team?


Harm Jansen: I would say it really set us apart from the other domestic teams. Being the only domestic team to win a stage in either of those races was very important because that’s one of our goals ­– to be the best team in the United States.


Cyclingheroes: With Henk Vogels and Mark Scanlon Toyota-United signed two former Pro-Tour riders. What is their role at Toyota-United? 


Harm Jansen: Mark has not been able to ride with us up to this point in the season. [He remains in his homeland of Ireland, attending to family matters.] We had high expectations for him, of course.


As for Henk, he brought experience and strength to the team. His role is to help with the leadouts and to go for results himself if our designated sprinter is not in position. He is also a rider we looked to guide the team in the bigger one-day races like the US Open and the International Classic in Philadelphia. He knows how to gauge his effort over a five or six-hour race and keep enough in reserve for the decisive moments at the end.

Copyright Sean Weide
Harm talks to Ivan Dominguez and Henk Vogels before a Training ride (picture: Sean Weide)

Cyclingheroes: In an interview with Ivan Stevic said that Henk Vogels told him he could be good in the European classics, do you think that as well?

Harm Jansen: Ivan has showed that he has the potential to do well, no matter what the venue. But you can never forget that cycling is predominantly a European sport so the racing there is different than what is taking place here in the United States. It would be great if Ivan could test the waters with some of the sport’s biggest racers because eventually, we want to compete in some races outside the U.S.


Cyclingheroes: Talking about Ivan Stevic, are you satisfied with his results in the first part of the season?


Harm Jansen: Yes, Ivan showed last year that he could produce results in races of all kinds [criteriums, stage races, one-day events] so this year, we have tried to play to his strengths. When Ivan Dominguez is competing along side of him, we have often made Ivan Stevic our “wild card” and let him take advantage of other teams concentrating on the other Ivan. A good example of this was Stage 2 at the Tour de Georgia, when Ivan Stevic attacked on Clocktower Hill and went on to easily take the stage. Many of the other teams were watching Ivan Dominguez and not marking Stevic.


Cyclingheroes: You have had a few impressive wins as a rider in Europe, like winning the fifth stage of the 1994 Peace Race. What was the reason to go to the US?


Harm Jansen: I had no particular reason to go to the United States. Shortly after that win in the Peace Race, I quit cycling because of mononucleosis. After I was recovered from that, I was invited to come over to the U.S. for a race. I looked at it as a nice break from the studying I was doing at the time. So it was a vacation trip that turned into me staying in the U.S.


Cyclingheroes: Was there a big difference in the mid-nineties between racing in Europe and the US?


Harm Jansen: Of course. There were more quality racers in Europe at the time. Plus, the speeds were greater in Europe.


Cyclingheroes: The UCI is considering to give the Tour of California a UCI Pro-Tour status. Would that be an important development for cycling in the US?

Yes, any time you increase the quality of a race and give it an international designation, it is good for the sport. But already, in just two shorts years,the Amgen Tour of California has shown that it is a world class event that attracts some of the sport’s greatest talents.


Cyclingheroes: What are the main goals in the second part of the season?


Harm Jansen: We are ramping up on the final stage races of the season, with the Cascade Classic in mid-July. Then, we’ll be doing a fair amount of criteriums. The main goal is to continue to win and stay in the lead in the National Race Calendar team standings. We’re plugging along, taking it race-by-race.

Coming up soon on Cyclingheroes: The unique business structure of the Toyota-United team.

Related Stories:

Henk Vogels Tour de Georgia riders diary

Henk Vogels: "Nice to get back in the winners circle"

Toyota-United set a fast pace to become a dominant force in U.S. Cycling in its first season

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