Interview of an ex-rider: Allan Davis has a solid track record under his belt and raced for some of the biggest teams in the pro peloton from 2001 to 2014. The Queensland man has just landed a new job at Lotto Soudal, so what better time for Ed Hood to catch up his delay in discussing and taking stock of his career.
He has ridden for some of the biggest teams of the past two decades, worked with some of the most famous sporting directors of the time, finished on the podium in two of the biggest one-day races in the world, worked for the UCi, has led Ladies and WorldTour teams and now he has joined Lotto Soudal as a DS. We thought it was high time to explore his long and varied career in cycling: Mr. Allan Davis.
PEZ: Your first pro contract was with the legendary Mapei squadron of the late Dr. Squinzi in 2001:
Allan Davis: It was a dream come true, as a neo-pro to sign for one of the greatest teams at the time – I learned a lot during the two seasons I was there.
With Mapei in 2002
PEZ: Then another “great team”, ONCE for 2003.
ONCE was more of a stage racing team than a one-day team like Mapei was; it was a great setup to be a part of and my learning process continued. I had my opportunities in the sprint stages; what was good about the team was that there was clarity, everyone knew where they were and the organization was top notch. There was a real family spirit in this team.
PEZ: Was that when your relationship with fellow Aussie Neil Stephens blossomed?
I knew “Stevo” before that there weren’t many australian professionals in his day and he was a role model and inspiration to me. Besides being DS with ONCE he played a role in the Australian national team – he was a big help, a big support, he helped me find my home in the Basque Country .
Tour of Piedmont 2004
PEZ: ONCE became Liberty Seguros in 2004 and you have achieved your biggest victory to date in the Giro del Piemonte.
That year we had a very tough and comprehensive program, from the Tour Down Under to the Tour of Lombardy. The victory of Piemonte reinforced the stage victories that I had won that year in Mallorca, Germany and Poland; winning an Italian semi-classic like this gave me a lot of confidence.
Paris-Roubaix 2005 with Liberty Seguros
PEZ: You were part of the various incarnations of the Liberty team until 2007 when you joined Discovery.
It was a good year, I had six or seven wins and a lot of top 10s; the team won the Tour de France with Alberto Contador that year, it was nice to be around that.
PEZ: Second in Milan-Sanremo behind Oscar Freire that year, “what if? “
I guess there are so many memories that you would love to replay in your career; my positioning before the final was not the best that day, I was around the 15th wheel with 500 meters to go. . . I knew I could do well in this race, the victory of Piemonte gave me confidence and I had had good results at the U23 world championships, seventh in 2000 and sixth in 2000, so I knew that I could get a result.
E3 Prijs van Harelbeke 2008 – Allan Davis (Jartazi)
PEZ: Disco stopped at the end of 2007 and you went to another “great team” – Quick-Step for 2008.
Between Discovery and Quick-Step, I was actually with Mitsubishi Motors – Jartazi, a Belgian team registered in Estonia. I had obtained good results in races like Dunkirk, the Circuit de Lorraine, the Tour de Belgique and Burgos, so Quick-Step took care of me. It was a team geared towards stage and one-day victories and I fitted in well.
With Tom Boonen at the Tour de France 2009
PEZ: And you won the Tour Down Under for them in 2009.
This edition of the race had huge media exposure in Australia because it was Lance’s comeback race. I was flying, I won three stages on the way to victory overall. I transported my good form to Europe where I was right next to the podium in Milan-Sanremo.
PEZ: The 2010 season saw you with Astana.
The main reason for this move was that it gave me the opportunity to be in the same team as my brother Scott; he was world junior team pursuit champion in 1997 with Michael Rogers, Graeme Brown and Brett Lancaster and then rode in the Giro and the Vuelta.
Crash in Sanremo 2011
PEZ: A great end to 2010 for you, third at the World Championships and at the Commonwealth Games.
The Worlds were in Australia, in Geelong, for the first time, so it was a big goal. Cadel Evans was the defending champion so he was our man of the day and I had the option if it was a sprint which it was. It was a tough race and I rode well, so no regrets. The Games were a great race to win, in Australia when I was young the only races that really caught the media attention were the Tour de France and the Commonwealth Games. Cav was a favorite, but it boiled down to a sprint with David Millar, Hayden Roulston and me – it was a tough race in the heat of Delhi. I was third in the Games Road Race in 2006 in Melbourne, where Matt Hayman won, so it was good to be on the podium in Delhi.
PEZ: Orica GreenEDGE for 2012, Australia’s first World Tour team.
It was great to be part of the ongoing history, a revolutionary moment. Winning the Tour Down Under and then being part of this team was a special moment for me and for the Australian cycling sport.
Vuelta al País Vasco 2012 stage 2 – Daryl Impey and Allan Davis
PEZ: You finished with Orica in early 2014 and there was talk of going to Euskaltel?
I have lived in the Basque Country for 20 years, but until then the team had only entered Basque riders; they relaxed that rule and I had a verbal deal with them, but the team then withdrew. I didn’t have a lot of options so I chose to end my career.
Langkawi Tour 2013
PEZ: Your next role was DS with the Wiggle High5.
It was for 2018, but as soon as my professional career ended I went straight into the training and cycling holidays, which still continue. I have fond memories of my time with the team, I learned a lot there but I already had a glimpse into women’s cycling, my sister raced in Australia but was lost to the sport due to a lack of opportunities, so it was good to be part of the development of the female side of the sport.
PEZ: So you worked at UCi?
It was in 2019 and 2020 when my role was to liaise between the UCI, the World Tour races, the teams and the riders and also the women’s teams. Unfortunately, they ended this program at the end of 2020.
Have the case will travel
PEZ: This year 2021 you were with Israel Start-Up Nation as a sprint coordinator, I recently interviewed Itamar Einhorn from the team, he is fast!
The skills I learned over the years have prepared me for the role – and yes Itamar is quick, he had a knee issue which limited his preparation, but once he got that sorted out and quit ‘he added more volume to his workout, I think he can go a long way.
PEZ: The Flatlands for 2022.
Yes, Lotto Soudal, my contract with Israel was for a year and the stars aligned for me with Lotto – there is a change of direction there for 2022, the Australian connection with Caleb Ewan – who suggested to me – and I have a large network of contacts on the Spanish scene.
2010 Worlds podium: Thor Hushovd, Matti Breschel and Allan Davis
PEZ: Your hi-lite career?
It’s not just about the results, it was nice to win medals at the Commonwealth Games and the World Championships – but most important to me was the fact that I was a role model for the young Australians who were coming. through sport.
PEZ: Any regrets?
There are plenty of races where I would like to relive the final but no, no regrets.