The everlasting Movistar Team road captain comments on his current situation, the condition of the Blues’ leaders and the ‘new normalcy’ as he returns racing for the Vuelta a Burgos.
HIS INJURY EARLIER THIS YEAR AND HIS RECOVERY: “The problem I went through was a hematoma at the area to use to sit, where you press against the saddle. There’s not so much blood circulation there because it isn’t quite of a muscle. I took a blow into a downhill, I took a bump without being correctly placed on my bike, and caused myself some internal bleeding. I wasn’t really awarer that it had been a serious blow, and the more I went training after that, the worse it got. During the week I was supposed to make my debut, in Mallorca, I was forced to stop and avoid cycling for about fifteen days. I was fortunate enough to find some good treatment with shock wave therapy – it went well and I could recover soon enough, it made me so happy because otherwise I would have had to undergo surgery. Sadly, when I recovered we entered the strictest part of the lockdown, and that forced me to change my plans, as it did to pretty much everyone in our world. That’s why I didn’t debut before this Vuelta a Burgos.
“After we got out of lockdown, my biggest goal was training to resume normalcy. And you obviously train because to want to compete, you want to squeeze every bit of energy on training to be able to do your best when you pin a number on. It was a strange part of the year – those weeks when we still didn’t have a calendar were the most difficult – but as soon as we had an idea on when we would be able to resume, which was close to the point when we were allowed to go on the streets freely, that’s when I got the needed boost of morale. I’ve tried to work as hard as possible to be already competitive from the restart of the season. It’s going to be a short, intense calendar, and I had to do everything possible to be in good form come Burgos.”
HIS GOOD INITIAL PERFORMANCES IN BURGOS: “I just fulfilled the role Chente and Pablo asked me to cover over these opening two stages, and I’m happy about that. I had to suffer a bit, because it’s been an intense start on very warm conditions, which takes a lot from you especially when you’ve just finished a block of altitude training. I’ll get adapted to this new situation soon and do better, it always happens when you go racing straight from such training.”
NEW NORMALCY, PROTOCOLS, FOLLOWING THE RULES: “I think we’re all making great efforts to do things right. Of course there will be some aspects that you can improve when you get more experience, yet for the time being, I think people is doing alright. It’s being strange for me, not being able to stop for a quick chat with anybody, staying away from any kind of social relationship – you miss having some more social interaction, you’re always a bit nervous, you can’t relax, you don’t know how to react. It’s difficult, yet we need to do things like that. We’ve got to adapt until this situation gets reversed, there’s no other way around it.”
CALENDAR: “If everything goes right, I’ll be racing the Tour de Pologne next week, going straight from this Vuelta a Burgos. After that, it’s still not put on paper – I might be doing some classics in Italy, I think. My goal is reaching the Tour de France in good condition. I’ve asked the team to do many races because, considering my physical abilities, I know that putting some race mileage into my body does well to me. I recover well, and the racing pace is good for me. I’ve always been able to race more than other team-mates who get to their best form easier because they’re more explosive, and that’s the case again this year.“
FRANCE: “The Tour is the wheel that makes the whole world of cycling spin. More than ever, that race will be the focus for everyone around this sport and beyond this year. I’m so excited to see it being run this year, because the sole fact that it starts will be a sign that things are going relatively well. Even if the team might have taken a step back when it comes to favouritism, I’m really willing to do a great job for the team and chase success with them, whether it’s with Enric, our hope for the upcoming years, or with Alejandro, one who’s always been there doing well“.
THE TEAM LEADERS: “I think they’re doing well. We’ve been together for nearly a month, I’ve seen them training, and I feel like they’ve done things right. They were aware that they had to work really hard to have a chance to be competitive here in Burgos. We came to the race right from our altitude camp, which doesn’t help them have the best legs early on, even if their condition is good, and having Alejandro taking 3rd place on stage one is a good testament to their work all over the training block. Enric wasn’t facing an easy start for him, with these warm temperatures, with conditions starkly different to those we had in the Pyrenees, and he was still there. I think they can do well today. They have the legs, they have the power to be up there with the top contenders, and they could show it today. Marc? I feel like this adaptation might have taken a bigger toll on him and he struggled, especially on day one, which meant he lost time, yet I’ve seen him over the training camp and he’s done well. He will be preparing over the next two months for his goal, the Giro, and I think we’ll soon see the best from him at races.“
Cover picture (c): Photo Gomez Sport