Bradley McGee has led no ordinary life by any standard. Born in 1976, it took Brad a mere ten years to realize his dream – to ride his bike. And at that young age, the concept was really as simple as that. Although when McGee threw his leg over a bike, he would never had fathomed just how far his dream would take him. And to this very day, it continues to grow. With new challenges being presented, and conquered, it seems as if the pattern of success isn’t about to be interrupted…
When Brad was crowned Junior World Champion in 1993, it signaled the start of an illustrious professional career. The following year, he set a Junior World Record in the 3,000m Pursuit, which stood for many years. Four years later, and Brad McGee had signed a professional contract with Francaise De Jeux, a team that would nurture his development for years to come. In 1994, he won two gold medals in Pursuit events. In 1996, Brad won two bronze medals, in 1998 he nabbed two gold medals, and in 2000 he earned bronze in the Pursuit, setting a new Australian record.
In 2002, he was awarded Male Cyclist of the Year – followed by the Honour of Australia in 2005. As if this was all not enough, McGee also became the first Australian cyclist to wear the leaders’ jersey in all three Major Tours. Seemingly untouchable, McGee was in for a run of bad luck – plagued with injuries in the latter part of his career, the cycling super-talent had to make a very tough decision; to stop racing.
In Autumn 2008, Brad McGee accepted an offer from the Saxo Bank team, to become one of their Directuer Sportifs. A role that would keep his passion for cycling well and truly alive, and allow him to achieve just as much off the bike. After over 15 years in the sport, we asked Brad for 15 minutes…
CT: Brad, you’ve not raced professionally for over 2 years now – is it a welcomed change, or do you miss the routine and lifestyle of being an elite cyclist?
BM: It didn’t really take that much getting used to. I have much more of a routine now as a DS and this aligns well with family life. The lifestyle is similar with a lot of travel and obviously heavily centered on cycling and therefore my craving for competition is well nourished. If I get to roll over a few quite kms every now and then I am kept clear headed and physically content.
CT: What does your new life as a Directeur Sportif entail?
BM: A lot of work! It’s a job that is NEVER finished as the more organized you are, the better you plan and keep the team sailing in the right direction the more energy and time you can give the riders, and staff with motivation and coaching.
CT: You managed the Francaise De Jeux team during the Herald Sun Tour, as a ‘once off’ some years back. Was the seed planted as far back as then, to DS a team?
BM: Ah actually I finished that week so exhausted I promised myself then to never, ever ever become a DS. Even though we won that race (with Baden Cooke) the experience was shocking. I guess you could say I have improved my ability to handle and work under stressful situations.
CT: To the team you’re managing – CSC Saxo Bank. There was speculation that the Schleck brothers, Frank and Andy were to leave the team. This has recently been confirmed to take place at the end of this season. How has it affected the team’s morale leading into the remainder of the Pro Tour season, and the World Championships?
BM: There are always challenges. This will be just another and we will deal with it in the right way.
CT: There’s always a focus on what riders want to achieve – but what are your aspirations as a Directeur Sportif? Is there still room to develop in your relatively new role?
BM: Absolutely. I feel I am arriving into the role in a period open to a lot of change and improvement. Away from the old school ‘I am boss do as I say’ mentality and towards a more business like structure and operation. It means more discussion, reviews and reports but ultimately you create a more efficient team environment for talented bike riders to express themselves.
CT: Now with all of your achievements in life, it seems as if the magic is rubbing off onto young Richie Porte! How long have you been working with him for?
BM: Yer Ritchie has been a…a lot of work. But the success he has enjoyed has helped me confirm our techniques at Saxobank are right on the money and help move forward stronger.
CT: He clearly has huge potential, but seems to be taking a very level-headed approach to his newfound fame. Is that your influence on him, or has he always been so professional in his approach to cycling?
BM: Ultimately a rider makes his own decisions and conducts himself in his manner. My job is to give these guys the platform to do this with out problems and issues that can be avoided. Basically free them from hassles and let them run free.
CT: We appreciate you’re a busy man. You have been for the past two decades! Do you ever stop to consider how different… how mundane your life could have been, if you hadn’t chased your dream?
BM: No time for such thoughts!
CT: Brad, thanks so much for your time. Just one last question… Who are your favourites to win the World Championships in Geelong this year?
2005 Tour de Suisse, Stage 3
2003 Tour de Suisse, stage 05, Albula Pass
2003 Tour de France, Stage 2
2003 Tour de France, Stage 4 TTT