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New Day Rising

A tough start in the amateur ranks in Italy followed by two seasons of fast and furious racing in Portugal has prepared 25 year-old Australian Ben Day well for his debut in Division I with Palmans-Collstrop. Fellow Aussie and Cyclingnews diarist Scott Sunderland finds out a little more about the 2003 national time trial champion.

 

Benjamin John Day

Age: 25
Born: December 12, 1978, Brisbane, Australia
Marital status: Girlfriend Tanya
Nicknames: kangaroo, dover
Height: 5'10" / 1.78 m
Weight: 141-147 lbs / 64-67 kg
VO2max: 80 ml/kg/min
Turned professional: 2002
Teams: Mr Bookmaker.com/Palmans-Collstrop (2004- ), Carvalhelhos-Boavista (2003), Matesica-Aboboda (2002)

Career highlights

2004 - Mr Bookmaker.com/Palmans-Collstrop

1st, Stage 5, Tour Down Under
5th, Australian Road Championships, Individual Time Trial

2003 - Carvalhelhos-Boavista

1st, Australian Road Championships, Individual Time Trial
2nd, Stage 3, Vuelta a la Rioja
11th, World Road Championships, Individual Time Trial

2002 - Matesica-Aboboda

1st, Stage 5, Volta ao Alentejo

Other Stuff

Attributes: Determination, dedication, time trialling, climbing, team work
Likes: Buying toys, watching movies
Dislikes: Cold weather, unreliability, being too busy
Food: Simple things, home cooking
Music: Depends on the mood
Languages Spoken: English, Portuguese, little Italian

Ben Day and Scott Sunderland
Photo ©: Sabine Sunderland

Cyclingnews: How did you get into cycling?

Ben Day: I always loved riding a bike, but my parents wouldn't let me have one until I was 13. Now I'm taking ultimate revenge! After high school I chose cycling as my number one sport and I turned pro in 2001!

CN: What type of rider is Ben Day?

BD: I'm a time trialist, a climber and I also like short stage races.

CN: How did you end up in Portugal?

BD: With a lot of luck, which is what is needed in this sport. After having two or three contracts offered to me at the end of the 2001 season, I was demoralised by having them torn apart due to financial troubles - better I didn't go to those teams now, I think - so I ended up desperately looking for something. Kristjan Snorrason had help from a Portuguese-Aussie by the name of Joao Serralheiro to find a Cat 2 team in Portugal. Unfortunately, Kristjan was unable to take his opportunity due to his injury, but fortunately for me, Kristjan arranged for me to take his spot on the team. I grabbed it with both hands.

CN: How did you experience the transfer to European pro racing?

BD: It is a lot harder - there's much more depth. But I love the culture of living in Europe. I spent six months racing in Italy in the incredibly difficult amateur ranks, which for all riders there, seems like a do-or-die affair. My team was crap; I never got paid as was promised, but was able to go to Poland to race in a professional tour where I won the first time trial stage and wore the yellow jersey.

Amateur racing in Italy is full on from the gun; they start hard and finish hard and these athletes in Italy are basically professional anyway - that is, it's their job - and it's a damn hard school. Professional racing in Portugal is similar to that style of racing, but they go harder - even the sprinter's stages are damn hilly and they like to race the riders over cobblestones and rough roads just to make sure you have a bit of everything.

CN: Why did you chose this Belgian team for 2004?

Feeling the heat in Langkawi
Photo: © Mark Gunter

BD: My wish was to get into mainstream Europe; to get full value for my results and to race on the main stage. I'm not sure yet about my program for this season but I would really like to ride Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Amstel Gold and a few short stage races. My role in the team hasn't really been defined, but it's mainly to capitalise on time-trials, I think.

If the opportunity arises, I would like to race the Olympics, win four or five UCI races this year and end the season with 300-400 points. In the longer term, my goal is to ride the Tour de France. I want to grow as a cyclist to achieve the best possible results.

CN: What achievements do you rate as your best in your still very young career?

BD: Being Australian time trial champion in 2003, finishing 11th in the individual time trial at the World's, and winning the fifth stage of the Tour Down Under this year.

 
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