Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Mikel talkes Tour

Mikel yesterday spoke at length to El Diario Vasco about the upcoming Tour de France. It took me a lot of time to translate the whole thing, so you be better read it. Here it is:

  • What's your physical and mental state like going into the Tour? "When it comes to preparation, I'm better equipped than ever. I've done mostly the same as last year. This year, though, I stayed in top form 'till the Tour de Romandie. Then at Dauphiné Libéré I was in quite good shape again."
  • You've caught the eye this year because of your consistency. How do you do it (staying consistent)? "I've finished inside the top 10 in every race I've done this year, except for the Vuelta a Murcia and the Tour Down Under. I've been consistent. How I do it? I'm the kind of rider who needs a lot of training to get into shape, so I started training in November. You get a moral boost when you see that it works out, and that helps when on the road."
  • But doesn't a season like this exhaust you? "It does, but I know I've got to train a lot. I'm going to the Tour in good shape and with many kilometres in my legs."
  • But aren't you afraid that you'll have to pay for such a strong start to the season, so loaded with races? "Not really. I'm going to Brest having done 48 days of competition. I've done 25 000 kilometres. That's more or less the same as last year, and it worked out well then. Though, I know I'll be very tired when the Tour comes to a close, just like last year. But then I kept my form for another week so that I could race the Clasica Sán Sebastián."
  • What do you plan to do after the Tour? "I don't know. First I'll have to finish the race, that's what's most important right now."
  • What's your objectives for the race? "To improve on what I did last year. That means to be higher up on GC, though the immediate goal will be to win a stage. I don't think that you have to sacrifice a good overall placing to be able to win a stage. That's my personal goal."
  • Why do you say that you are better than ever? "I've done the Tour five times. Last year I was ahead, close to the best. I've never been better physically. I have no right to be pessimistic. But I know the Tour is the hardest race there is."
  • You did your first Tour in 2003, the best year for Euskaltel when it comes to the Tour. What's changed since then? "I did the Tours de Armstrong. There was a clear favourite for the win back then. The race was controlled by Discovery Channel. They totoally controlled the race. This year round it'll be no control."
  • Will the level of racing be higher or lower than back then? "It's difficult to measure the levels of sport. There were more charismatic riders then (like Armstrong, Basso, Ullrich and Vinokourov). The names of Evans, Cunego and Menchov don't make the same impression. No offence though, they're all very good riders."
  • How do you see this year's race? "Much more open than in past years. There are 10 riders who can make the podium. Valverde, Fränk Schleck, Cunego, Evans, Menchov, Sastre, Moreau..."
  • If you had to name one, just one, top favourite, who would it be? "Cadel Evans. But it's impossible to predict the podium so close to the start of the race.
  • How would the race change if Alberto Contador were to start? " He would, as defending champion, take control of the race with his team. I suppose this task will be left to Evans' team now."
  • What will your weight be like on Saturday? "72 kilograms. I will also finish with that weight, as I'm not the kind of rider who loses kilos when competing. I know that's not normal, but that's the way it is."
  • What do you make of the parcours? "There are few TTs, and that's not a good thing for me. I can gain minutes in TTs. I've got a lot of respect for the Massif Central. I've never done well there, the climbs are all really explosive. The chances are greater for losing time than gaining time. I don't like that part of the Tour."
  • What do you prefer; the Alps or the Pyrenees? "The Pyrenees are not excessively hard this year, though it'll be important to do well there because of our fans. The Alps have always been good to me. I've done well there ever since I joined Ag2r. The three Alpine stages in this year's race are all really hard. The Tour will be decided there, so it's important to be ready for them and to not be totally exhausted when the last week comes.I'm a diesel rider, so I hope to benefit from that on the long climbs of the Alps"
  • What are the team's objectives for the race? "We've not spoken a lot about it. We'll try to win a stage and do well overall."
  • With who? "I just said we haven't talked a lot about it. I suppose we'll all arrive with the same options. I believe our Tour squad's never been stronger. Obviously we've had more solid leaders in the past, but we've now got a very complete team. Juanjo, Egoi, Amets, Gorka, Rubén and Iñaki are all quality riders. We won the teams classification in the Dauphiné recently, and we can do well overall in the Tour. I think every single rider is in great shape."
  • What kind of rider does this year's Tour favour? "It favours the climbers. There are less kilometres against the clock than on other occasions and, if we consider the last TT to be a test of strength, there's no doubt this Tour is one for the climbers. I don't really like the route all that well. I'd like more TT kilometres, more of the Pyrenees, less of the Massif Central and the same amount of the Alps. That's my dream Tour."
  • Why is it so important for the team to win a stage? "Because we lack stage-wins."
  • Are you eager to get going? "Yes, I can't wait. I've trained a lot and I'm excited. I've prepared well: before we went to the Dauphiné, we went to see the Pyrenees. After the race, we went to the Alps. The three Alpine stage are going to be very hard, especially the last one with the finish at the top of the L'Alpe d'Huez. That's the queen-stage. Everything will be decided in the last week."
  • With you in the thick of it? "When you're close to the best ones you always want to improve and finish higher."

5 comments:

arnout said...

Thanks for sharing! Interesting, although we knew the most things before already. I am a bit afraid though, that stage victory looks like to be an obsession for the whole team. Let's hope they will get one quickly!

Anonymous said...

Nice update, thanks.

Mike

Magnus said...

I'm praying for Samu on the very first stage!

Magnus said...

I'm praying for Samu on the very first stage!

Anonymous said...

doublepost :-( !!!

 

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