Following on from my review of his autobiography Easy Rider, I was granted the chance to interview the man himself about the genesis of the book, his memories of riding professionally and why the British cyclists are experiencing such a purple patch:
- Why write an autobiography?
To my knowledge, there has not yet been a book about the fantastic story of the rise of British cycling’s success. Plus I felt I had a great story to tell.
- What would be the characteristics/traits that set you apart from your contemporaries?
I feel I probably had an eye for some of the detail involved that many other riders would not think about. Things like the evolution of technologies and the correct use of them. Plus I had such a long career that compared to many of the younger generation I was more self sufficient as at the start I needed to be. These days it’s not drummed into them so much.
- Reading the book, the period with Cofidis seems quite scary along with the dark times with David Millar. Was it tough to recall such a dark period?
Not really no. I just found the whole structure of such a high profile team so amateurish and counterproductive to the whole reason it existed in the first place. With regard to Dave. I don't have a problem looking back on those days either. I guess mainly because I feel it was ultimately to his benefit on a human side, and the benefit of cycling in general. Without admission and subsequent ban< I dread to think where Dave's life away from cycling would have led.
- If you had lottery funding from the start of your career, would you have won more major honours?
Without doubt. But would possibly have had a shorter career. It would be easy to look back with a hint of bitterness as to what may or may not have been. I just feel proud of what I achieved when I did, plus the fact that due myself and others around me at the time, British cycling is now where it is today.
- How did the funding change your sport?
It enabled the squad to reach out and bring in the experts in all fields to help the riders attain their goals. Also it means riders can now live year round in a better environment rather than just dip into it during very small parts of the year.
- You are an unsung member of the cycling fraternity. Who in your mind on or off the track does not get the right recognition?
I think the ones who really deserve the recognition are the hard working staff members. They are the ones who put the hours weeks and months of work in, for us, the riders. Whereas we are the ones living our hobbies basically. We are the ones gaining the medals and the plaudits.
- Do you miss the thrill of competition?
Without a doubt! the racing is the reason I rode a bike. The training was in the main, a means to that end.
- What can we look forward to during the Tour de France? And is it a blessing that Sir Bradley Wiggins is injured and missing Le Tour and so avoiding this leadership clash with Chris Froome?
You've hit the nail on the head there regarding Brad. A great shame he is not in a position to defend his title, but with him in the team this year I feel it would have taken away important team work required for Froome's result. The Tour I feel is his to lose this year.
My thanks to Kate Green at Transworld Publishers for the opportunity to interview Rob Hayles
Easy Rider is out now on hardback and on kindle from Amazon.co.uk for £9.49