Manual for Speed was at the Tour of California and talked with various players in the workings of Team Exergy and Team Garmin-Barracuda (now Team Garmin-Sharp-Barracuda) at the end of the long, hot week. We spoke with Team Exergy's Freddie Rodriguez first:
Getting on the podium for Stage 2 showed the field we're for real. It's hard to be a domestic team and compete at this level, and get results. Some guys can be full of themselves and disrespect a domestic team. We showed up though—I tweeted at one point that you have to give respect to the domestic teams who are able to compete against the best, especially because we don't race at this level and in this kind of stage race regularly. It was hard but we went out there and gave it everything we had. The team did a great job, I'm proud of my teammates and the staff. People paid attention, they know we are out there now and that's what's important.
I also really enjoyed all the positive support from the fans and other riders about my return to racing at this level – “Freddie's back!” That's just really nice. In a way it's like I do better in these larger, well attended events; the motivation of racing against the top riders in the world and the long distances are suited to me. As soon as I'm in a big race I do well. I like all the people, the crowd, the difficulty, all of it.
There were disappointments like not being in the right place in the finish on several stages. Like Stage 8, I don't like those kind of easy races. I'm a light sprinter, so the flat stages don't suit my style. I just took the wrong side of the road. I was on my own and it didn't work out. Everything needs to be perfect for me to be there at the finish since I'm on my own in a race like this. Sometimes everything did go perfectly and it was great, sometimes it didn't work out. That's as dark as it got which isn't too bad. I'm getting better and better this year; I'm climbing great, and that's what I wanted to do when I came back. Not that it's the only thing I wanted to do, but I wanted to be more versatile.
I feel good after the race. I'm not tired so I know I'm just going to get better—Nationals is next. Hopefully my showing here has given me a better hope for the Olympic team. I don't know whats going on with the selection but that’s my number one goal; to make the Olympic team. Right now Farrar is the top American sprinter in the world and he doesn't have anyone to lead him out; that's what I specialize in.