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Mikel Landa & Richard Carapaz towards the 2019 Giro

7 May 2019
Imagen de la noticia ‛Mikel Landa & Richard Carapaz towards the 2019 Giro’

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The Movistar Team’s two main GC references for the ‘Corsa Rosa’ share their memories from previous appearances, how they’ve prepared for the race, their concerns, hopes and expectations.

RICHARD CARAPAZ

His professional debut in Italy

“The team gave me a chance to race some classics in Italy with them as a trainee in late 2016, and I really enjoyed the country, as a place to compete and to stay, too. It quite resembles Ecuador since it’s very hilly, difficulty on the bike, always up and down.”

Montevergine and the 2018 Giro

“A big smile still comes to my face remembering that stage. Knowing that I was able to contest a stage win in a Grand Tour so early, being able to raise my arms victorious that day – it’s the best thing that could have happened to my sporting career. It was the right moment, the right place, in the best possible form. Still, I didn’t expect that it would lead me to contest the GC straight away. I had prepared well for the Giro, I had previously ridden a Grand Tour with the 2017 Vuelta and knew that I had good skills for Grand Tours, but my career plan was fighting for it not that year, but a couple of years later. However, the opportunity came around and that month really changed my mentality as a rider. Now I know I can also fight for certain kinds of one-week races, or even those one-day events with big mountains which suit me well. I feel like I’ve got a good margin for progression, and that boosts my motivation even further to fight for what’s to come.”

His road to this year’s Giro

“I think the season has so far gone as we expected, following preparations closely attached to the big goal the Giro is. Colombia and Argentina were a great start. In San Juan we found big joy with Winner’s success, which I was pleased to help with, and then in Colombia I was able to go and chase individual goals, shining in the mountains and taking a decent result. Tirreno-Adriatico and Volta a Catalunya were two good races to get the legs used to European racing, and back after training, everything went really well in Asturias.”

Route

“I had been checking route profiles and details ever since October. When you’ve got a goal like this in mind, you of course feel more interested about every possible detail. The thing I’m most concerned about are the three time trials. I’ve tried to work as hard as possible to face them in the best possible condition – knowing these could be my weak point, I’ve got to do my best, because it will depend on them that I can contest the race GC. If I’m able to just concede one or two minutes rather than three, it will be a significant gain for me. Considering the tough climb at the end, the prologue could already set some gaps; the San Marino TT is really long and there will surely be serious gaps between the race contenders; and we’re also ending the race with a time trial in Verona, so it won’t be as easy as Rome’s final circuit last year. However, there’s also all the mountains in this race, most importantly the final week, one for the fans (smiles). Long, tough climbs. The last four days are brutal, they have an extra spice which will demand the best from us. The Dolomites will be the judge for the winner of the Giro d’Italia. I really like that second part of the race.”

Cycling in Ecuador

“I think cycling in Ecuador is progressively getting stronger. There’s been a spike with last year’s victories, there’s more fans in our country and even the numbers at cycling schools, kids on bikes, have improved. Of course you’ve got to keep in mind that building a stable base is a long-term effort, there’s still so much to do. We’ve got to keep fighting for this progression to continue steadily, and have more fans like today’s newcomers to get interested in cycling and enjoy it. The people in my country is really supporting me these past few years, with fans all over the country always keeping an eye on eye and tuning in to race broadcasts. It really means a lot to me.”

MIKEL LANDA

Down and back up

“It’s been a tough few months. The injuries I sustained were not too serious, but they’re setbacks which require some time to heal from and get back to 100%. I finished my 2018 season on the ground, started 2019 in the same way, so it’s been a quite frustrating few months. But this is all about streaks. You’ve got to keep in mind that in cycling it’s ‘easy’ to get down or ride back up, it changes quickly. You’ve got to remain confident about it changing. I’ve enjoyed some good moments during my career, I had to get through rougher times recently, but I’m getting back up again. You’ve got to remain optimistic: a bad streak is not forever. In that sense, in our team we’ve got two sports directors who live and breathe the Giro: Chente and, most importantly, Max, who knows Italy like the back of his hand. They’ve been pro riders before, and they’ve always supported me, kept me calm and offered me their confidence, reminding me that the Giro was in May, that there was time to recovery and get back up to speed. They’ve been so much useful to me.”

Giro route inspections

“In March, just before racing again in Sanremo, we inspected some stages. We first checked out the San Marino TT, one route which was important to know beforehand, since it’s one which will create big gaps and you need to know it well. We also made a recon of the two Alpine mountain stages in the third weekend of racing, two really tough routes which could set the tone for the last week. And that final week, which is brutal – we couldn’t visit every road – it’s difficult in March to get to those high-altitude climbs – but we could check most of it.”

Memories from Italy

“The Giro was a breakthrough for my career. It really helped me change my mentality and made me become the rider I am right now. From my previous appearances in the race, I hold dear my stage victory in Aprica, in 2015. We were climbing the Mortirolo that day, a mythical climb, and I was just flying. I felt really well that day, I just had to hold to my handlebars and enjoy a lot. It was a beautiful day. The 2017 race was different, though. I was planning to contest the GC, yet I had a crash which took me out of contention. I’m proud about how, with help from my team back then, we turned the tables on that situation. The overall classification was an impossible goal, so we focused on winning the KOM jersey, and I took a stage victory, conquered that classification and learned a lot of lessons for the future.”

Approach to the Giro

“After Coppi e Bartali and País Vasco, I had some days of rest to get the body used to the race load I had put in; it had been a very difficult two races and it was key to recover well. I then went to a training camp in altitude, in Andorra, to get use to the higher climbs we will face during the Giro. The legs felt really well in both Liège and Asturias, just what we hoped for.”

Rivals

“Other than Roglic and Dumoulin, I would keep an eye on Simon Yates. He was so close to winning the race outright last year, then went on to take the Vuelta a España GC. He’s a courageous rider who’s got a Grand Tour in his palmarès, so he will be a tough contender. Nibali also has loads of experience, so you can never rule him out.”

Giro – and Tour

“I will tackle both Grand Tours with the very same motivation. I’ve taken no real big, extended efforts since August, so I think I’ve got the energy it takes to do both at 100%. I’m now thinking only about the Giro, our closest goal, but when we finish, I will focus on recovering and getting back to 100% before the Tour. I think it’s possible.”