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Oss Goes On The Road

Interview by James Startt

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Italy’s Daniel Oss is many things. He’s an inspired musician and one of the world’s most-respected team riders. But while he spends most of the season riding shotgun for Peter Sagan on the Bora-Hansgrohe team, Oss sometimes likes to get away from racing. So this week he leaves on a cycling adventure all his own—a bike tour across Italy from Milan to Rome. For Oss, 31, this coming week offers him a chance to reconnect with the inherent beauty of riding a bike. And you can follow his #JUSTRIDE adventures, starting this Wednesday, because he will be documenting his adventures on PELOTON social feeds.

PELOTON Magazine: Daniel, you are about to take off on a completely different adventure, an old-fashioned bicycle tour.

Daniel Oss: Yeah, I did this two years ago after the Giro d’Italia. I was kind of sick of racing and specific training. I still wanted to ride, but just in a more relaxed way. I just wanted to ride, so I took off with no plan really. And I decided to do it again this year: to have fun with friends, enjoy dinners, enjoy the whole experience of cycling. But this year I am a bit more organized and I’m sharing the experience more. We are calling it #JUSTRIDE. I’m starting at the Vigorelli Velodrome in Milan because I love the track and then will be doing an eight-day trip all the way down to the Coliseum in Rome. It’s allowing me to connect up with old friends and meet people along the way. I’ll probably even work in a day of gravel riding over some of the Strade Bianche roads too. I’ll do between 150 and 200 kilometers a day. It’s going to be a lot of fun! I hope to be able to connect my story with other athletes from other sports or just people from other walks of life. There will be a friend of mine that builds guitar amps and some others. It will be a good way to have some company and get back to the basic love of cycling.

PELOTON: Rumor has it that if you were not a professional cyclist you might have become a bass player?

Oss: Oh, I don’t know. I play bass but I’m not so good.

PELOTON: Like Jack Bauer on Mitchelton-Scott?

Oss: Oh, not as good as Jack. But I like to play when I can. I bought a Fender Jazz Bass and play along with some of my favorite songs. I can play for hours. I was looking for a small travel bass that I can bring with me on the road, but I haven’t found one yet.

PELOTON: Who is your favorite bassist?

Oss: Oh, that would be Flea with the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

PELOTON: That’s interesting. We recently did an interview with John Stirratt, the bassist for Wilco. The bassist in a band is often sort of the road captain on stage, and he spoke about the importance of keeping the band in a sort of flow state during a concert. That is not unlike what somebody like you does in a bike race as one of the playmakers in your team.

Oss: Yeah, there are a lot of connections between a musician’s life and our lives as pro cyclists. We both spend a lot of time on the road and in tour buses. And the best guys climb up on stage on the podium. And then, the bass player, you can definitely compare him to my role. Peter [Sagan] is definitely the front man in our band, and somebody else may be the drummer, but I am very much like a bass player on the team, helping make the moves. I have to help keep the rhythm all the way until the end. In a band situation, everyone relies on what the bass player does. And in a team situation people rely on what I do. When I take a long pull, for example, it is to help others and push them further. If somebody wins it is partly because you did a good job. It is like in a band situation when someone takes a good solo, because you helped by holding the rhythm down. There are a lot of good bass players out there but a bassist is often chosen in a band because of the feeling they have with the front man in the group.

PELOTON: You just finished the classics campaign with your new Bora-Hansgrohe team with Peter, who really wanted you to come to the team—and it seems like you fit right in.  You’ve been quite visible in the races helping out Peter, who had a great classics campaign, winning Ghent–Wevelgem and Paris–Roubaix.

Oss: Yeah, it has been a lot of fun to be part of this team. You can see it growing. It’s exciting. It’s only the second year that the team is ProTour, but it is really growing and everybody is excited to be a part of it and grow with it. Peter brings so much energy to the team. We rode together on Liquigas. I was there in 2009 and he started in 2010 and we spent four years together so I’m really happy to be able to work with him again. He just brings such a sense of purpose to the team.

PELOTON: You worked with guys like Markus Burghardt as well, on the BMC team, and were part of the heart of their classics team…and here you two are now really the backbone of Bora’s classics squad.

Oss: Yeah, that really helps. You instantly know what to do when you’ve ridden with guys for a while, which is really helpful because, well, in a bike race, you don’t always have the time to explain things. Intuition and instinct are important.

PELOTON: What is your favorite race?

Oss: Oh, the classics. I’d have to say Flanders….

PELOTON: Really, even more than Paris–Roubaix?

Oss: Hmm, yeah, I’d have to say so. You just really feel the public there, especially on the final circuits. You really feel the people. It’s just amazing.

PELOTON: Before you got into racing, did you do any bike touring like you will do this week?

Oss: No. I came from skiing and speed skating and so when I got into cycling it was from the competition side of the sport. So the whole bike touring thing, I just sort of evolved into it. I just started asking myself, why do we cycle? My whole life has been about performance, but the whole idea of just going out for a ride is great and really appeals to me. I don’t have to wake up at a certain hour and be out on my bike. I’m still riding, but if I want to finish my ride with the sunset one day, I can do that. And when I am ready to stop, I can just do that, find a hotel and have a relaxing evening. In some ways it is a little strange not having any structure to my cycling. But why not?!