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PCM Interview: Barry Miller, the pleasant surprise of Volta a Portugal

PCM Interview: Barry Miller, the pleasant surprise of Volta a Portugal

VERSÃO EM PORTUGUÊS AQUI

Barry Miller, a name something unknown to Portuguese cycling fans before the beginning of August, was one of the highlights of the 83rd Volta a Portugal Continente. The 33-year-old American cyclist, who lives in Galicia, showed himself at a high level in the mountain-top finishes at Observatório de Vila Nova (6th) and Senhora da Graça (9th), finishing the Grandíssima in an honorable 16th place with BAI – Sicasal – Petro de Luanda team. In an interview with Portuguese Cycling Magazine, at the end of the 6th stage of the Volta a Portugal (Águeda – Maia), the American talked to us to get to know a little more about his career so far.

This interview follows up our publication before the prologue about the North American cyclist, which can be seen below.

The beginning in cycling and the first experience in Europe

Barry started by detailing his cycling journey: “I started racing on the track as a junior and under-23 cyclist, and I raced here in Europe”, however, coming to Europe as a road cyclist was something curious: “My American team raced in Sweden and I won a race there and that led to me being signed by some Swedish teams”, he told us.

The North American cyclist found a lot of differences in cycling on this side of the Atlantic Ocean, as he pointed us: “Cycling in Europe is much more aggressive with fights for all positions and with narrower and more twisty roads, you need a lot more technique than in America. It is a real sport here in Europe.

The experience in Sweden would end at the end of 2015, as he told us: “I was very happy with the team I was in [Team Bliz – Merida], but they did not renew me”, explaining that the team was in the process of changing sponsors, and they did not have room for a North American.

Barry Miller at Team Bliz – Merida.
Photo: Valentin Baat

He then decided to return to his home country: “I ended up receiving a good offer from the Lupus Racing Team”, explaining what that offer consisted of: “[The team] was supposed to be a very ambitious project and they gave me a 2-year contract”, however, once again, bad luck knocked on his door, as the team ended up closing doors at the end of Miller’s first year of contract in 2016.

The desert crossing and a new experience in Europe

Between 2017 and 2019, Barry did not have an easy life, even telling us that it was some lost years in his career, however in early 2020 he would return to Europe for the Cambodia Cycling Academy project: “I was about to quit when one of my old teammates, a French cyclist from my time at Lupus Racing Team, put me in touch with Cambodia Cycling Academy. I ended up signing with the team in 2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic spread”, highlighting the participation in the Mont Ventoux Dénivelé Challenge, as one of the events in which he ran for the Cambodia team based in France.

Barry Miller at Cambodia Cycling Academy.
Photo: Barry Miller’s Strava

However, once again, not everything was a bed of roses for Miller: “I came back to race for the team in 2021 and that is when the real problems ended up happening”, referring to the scandal that devastated the project: “The team had a lot of potential, with a good racing program and I think they had good intentions, but that unfortunately ended due to COVID-19 and the complications that the manager had with some riders which ended up giving rise to an investigation by the UCI into complaints of bullying”, something, fortunately, that Barry never witnessed within the team. He ended up breaking his contract when the team was denied Continental team status in 2021 and went in search of other career options.

JAVA Kiwi Atlántico and the new challenge at BAI – Sicasal – Petro de Luanda

Shortly after breaking the contract with Cambodia Cyling Academy, the North American athlete started negotiations with the Venezuelan license structure led by Enrique Salgueiro, which at the time was called Gios – Kiwi Atlántico, however the team was unable to hire him for the rest of the 2021 season as he told us: “They couldn’t sign me in 2021, however I ended up going to Spain to run in the amateur peloton during the fall and did some races there”, in what was a kind of preparation for 2022, where he effectively ended up signing with JAVA Kiwi Atlántico.

Barry, at the beginning, was confident with the choice he had made for his career as he confided us: “I feel like I did well my homework regarding the team, as the team has been around for a few years, and they had a very good racing program, and I said to myself: ‘OK, this is a small team, but with this racing program I can do some good results’”, however time would bring 2 big problems to Miller: the equipment used by the team and the lack of a better racing calendar. Barry went on to explain his major concerns to us: “I had major issues with the equipment to the point where I was worried about my own safety and on top of that I felt like it wouldn’t be competitive, also the racing program just was not happening, the team was not receiving invitations to the competitions as they had in the past”, these being the two reasons for leaving the team in the middle of the season.

He found a new home in the Angolan structure of Carlos de Araújo, as he told us: “The agent Juan Campos helped me with everything, he has many contacts in Portugal. Portugal is a good destination for me, because age is not very relevant here”, he hoped to have changed teams earlier, as he had planned to race the GP Torres Vedras – Troféu Joaquim Agostinho. Barry ended the interview with a “luckily I was able to come and run the Volta a Portugal, and I am quite happy with that!”, he would end up being one of the protagonists of the Volta and making himself known to Portuguese cycling with his solid performances on the climbs of the race.

Barry Miller at Observatório de Vila Nova stage.
PHoto: João Fonseca (UVP – FPC)

After such a good performance at Volta a Portugal, it will be interesting to know where the North American cyclist will race in the future. Miller has shown himself capable of keeping up with the best climbers in Portugal and has shown that he has a lot to give in foreign or Portuguese teams. Will the performance at Volta a Portugal open new doors for him?

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