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"So I'm coming here fresher but not as sharp and by the second or third week, I hope to really come good and go for the stage win."

Photo: Tim De Waele/TDW Sport


19.08.2016 @ 17:54 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

The Vuelta a Espana starts tomorrow. Below we have gathered a series of quotes from riders and sprots directors.


Tejay Van Garderen (BMC): "To do two grand Tours in one season, it's a chance to feel the legs, feel the engine, to give me a bit more depth heading into the next season. I don't want to ride anonymously. I want to hunt for a stage win. It's going to be an interesting race, different to what I'm used to. Last year I was very disappointed with the Tour, I wanted revenge. I basically woke up on Monday morning and tried to go back in shape and be sharp, I was nervous and stressed. This year was another disappointing Tour but I'm really just kind of like I don't need to jump right back into it. Just rest up a little bit. I'm coming in more fresh but not as sharp.


"After the Tour I went home. It had been seven months away from home. I just went home, mentally recovered, physically recovered. I was getting on the bike but no real intensity, just riding for the fun of riding. So I'm coming here fresher but not as sharp and by the second or third week, I hope to really come good and go for the stage win."


Andrew Talansky (Cannondale-Drapac): "After all the problems I had for the last couple of years, you saw things starting to come together in the Tour of California, Tour de Suisse, Tour of Utah, you kind of saw me improving and start riding at the level that I should be riding at. For people like Froome, Contador and Nairo, the focus is the Tour, they're training for the Tour. They haven't been training six months for the Vuelta. Sometimes you also do the Olympics and what you have left, you do the Vuelta with. Personally I always found personally that I was tired after the Tour, guys like Froome or Nairo, or Valverde, they've proved they can do back to back grand Tours. Contador obviously is coming here fresher after stopping the Tour early. But mentally the Tour takes so much from me to get over it mentally, it's so intense and you have to be so focused every day, you put so much into it. But here I'm coming fresh mentally and physically and very motivated for the next three weeks. The Vuelta is totally different. It's at top level and it's extremely hard  but the Tour is 198 riders and even the guy coming last every day is giving the best he's going to give all year, fighting for everything but here you have guys at the front who are going to fight and give everything but then you have guys who are tired, you have guys who come here because their teams told them you have to go to the Vuelta, you have guys who are maybe sick. All sort of things and then you have few people, maybe like me, who had some obstacles and come here mentally fresh and motivated. It's a little more of a mix than the Tour. 

I think you saw in the Tour of California I started to enjoy my racing again. Winning that stage at the Tour of Utah was the first time I won a stage since Paris-Nice in 2013 so it felt nice. It's not trying to be like I was two or three years ago because I can be better than I was two or three years ago. It's about taking it step by step. Finding enjoyment in the process is definitely what I found again this year. The main goal is to  put together a solid three weeks and I was 7th here in 2012 and so the goal is to improve on that and I think that's realistic."


Sean Yates (Tinkoff Team director): "First of all I hope the bad luck is over, we've had enough of it. The freshness factor is an important one as we've seen in the past and with his crash in the Tour, Alberto might be a little bit fresher than Froomey or Quintana. But Chaves is also fresh and will want to improve not only on his result here last year but also on his second place in the Giro. And Froome is not a rider who starts a race to play second fiddle while Quintana had a disappointing Tour by his standards and is out for revenge. It's going to be an intriguing Tour with all these explosive top finishes. Alberto is not the most explosive climber, but he's not bad in this type of efforts either. With the time bonus, those stages might be as important as the big mountain stages."


Samuel Sanchez (BMC): "I'm riding my 9th Vuelta and it will be a good one for me if I manage a good GC ranking and if I win a stage. It would be ideal to do it at Alto de Naranco (stage 9) at home in Oviedo but it will be hard. I feel in good shape, I prepared well for this and I'm longing for it to start."


Warren Barguil (Giant-Alpecin): "Honestly, I'm not at my best. I have had sinusitis since between the Tour and San Sebastian and I can't get rid of it. I nearly did not come. In these circumstances, while I was coming here looking for a stage win, my ambitions are lower. I will see how the first days go. On the World Tour, if you don't have the health, it's useless to dream."


Adam Hansen (Lotto-Soudal) : " It's now number 16! I don't think I should be too tired because I actually did not ride at all since the Tour. I spent most of my time since the Tour with my family at home in the Czech Republic and I hardly rode my bike at all. The Vuelta is my favorite of the three grand Tours in that you don't have that much pressure, the stages are shorter, the starts are later and you don't have to be full gas all the time. My role here is simple, trying to help Bart (De Clercq) and Thomas (De Gendt) for the GC and set up the sprints. It'll be three weeks of solid riding ahead."


Rein Taaramae (Katusha): "I want to race without thinking about the GC and try to win a stage. It's a long time since I haven't done a good result in the GC of a World Tour stage race (3rd n the 2010 Tour of Catalunya). I would love to but I must be realistic, it's not within my means. In 2011, I won a Vuelta stage in La Farrapona and I think that this year's course can give me a few opportunities. I'm a good specialist of hard stages. My team's ambition is the same – win stages. We don't have a GC rider and we don't have a sprinter either. We are going to be aggressive."


Jean-Christophe Peraud (Ag2r-La Mondiale): "It's my last Grand Tour for sure. To be forced out of the Giro in the third stage was hard to swallow because I was back to a good level. I'm glad to ride a Grand Tour this season, it's my field of competence. I'm desperate to do well because it was another hard year. I didn't feel especially better in Tour de l'Ain but I'm hoping for a spark and to enjoy myself. I'm trying to be serious until the vey end because I'd like to finish it off well, to take the good breaks. It would already be something."


George Bennett (Lotto-Jumbo): "We're here for Steven Kruijswijk. He's our undisputed leader and it's great to be at the service of a rider whom you know can play leading roles in the race. We have a strong team with Robert Gesink, who has a knock and is recovering but could be great help to Steven in the mountains. Personally, I won't have as much freedom as on the Tour. I had an hectic season since May, riding California, the Dauphiné, the Tour, San Sebastian then the Olympics and now the Vuelta but I'm fresh mentally, I enjoy being here, the Vuelta is a race I like a lot."


David Arroyo (Caja Rural-RGA): "We tackle this Vuelta with a lot of motivation and hope. We have a strong and aggressive all-round team. We are going to fight for our goal which is to raise our arms. It's probably the strongest team ever fielded by Caja Rural on the Vuelta. We improve with every year. Jose (Gonçalves) and Pello (Bilbao) came close last year. Sergio (Pardilla) is in great shape and it'll show in the mountains. We have brave riders and ambitious youngsters. As for me, it will be up to me to go in the breaks and bring my experience."


Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana): "It's my first Grand Tour and I will take advantage of the experience and see how it goes. I'm lucky to have very experienced team-mates. With their support I'm going to try and ride a great Vuelta. It's been a while since I last raced, since my victory in the Tour de Suisse. We'll have to see how the legs react in the first week. There are very hard stages which will make gaps. thats when we'll see what I can look forward to."


Simon Gerrans (Orica-Bike Exchange): "Team time trial is a discipline we've always excelled at. And there's a jersey to look out for. But the real objective is really to help Esteban get the best result possible. Personally I'm alright physically, and my role might be the one of road captain but there might be a couple of stages along the way that suit me."


Maxime Bouet  (Etixx-Quick Step):  "For the overall we have Gianluca Bambilla, who finished 13th in 2015 but it cannot be our main game plan. The priority remains a stage win. It would be nice to do it immediately in the team time trial. There is also Gianni Meersman for the sprints. He's always there, very consistent. He's not the best sprinter in the world but he's not going to miss out in the medium mountains. When he's motivated, he's a sniper. For me, I'm going to try to overcome my disappointment last year in Lleida when I was caught with 200 metros to go. In the first week, I'm going to work for Brambilla and then I'll think about myself and try to go in the breakaways."


Mario Chiesa (IAM Cycling team director): "The goal is to win a stage like we did in the Giro and the Tour. We have a sprinter

(Van Genechten), a rouleur (Laengen), who finished 3rd in the Giro time trial in Chianti, and Matthias Frank for the mountain and the GC. Our team is going to stop in a few weeks but we're going to stay professional until the end out of respect for the people who had trust in us since the start."


Julien Bernard (Trek-Segafredo): "I'm very happy to ride my first Grand Tour. It's an important step in a career. I'm going to do it in a very good team with a great atmosphere. A year ago I was a trainee, now I have done several big races like the Tour of Catalunya, the Tour de Romandie, Dauphiné, and it's a great chance to go ahead with the Vuelta. I learnt a lot already. I don't want to set myself goals. The World Tour if the top flight and I will take it week after week. My father Jean-Francois will come to say hi on his ways to holidays in Portugal."


Jose Mendes (Bora-Argon 18): "Our goal is always the same – try to win a stage. That's our priority. To do that we will have to be in the breaks, not only to show the name of our sponsor but also because that's the way for us to win stages. Personally I worked very hard for this Vuelta. It's the first grand Tour I did and it's special for me. We're spending a week in Galicia and it's very close to Portugal. There will be a lot of fans and friends and my family will also come to some stages to support me. If I'm at my best level I think I can have GC ambitions between the top 20 and the top 15."


Romain Sicard (Direct Energie): "I'm really motivated. It's an important race for me and the team. I'm glad to be here. I was disappointed by my result in the Tour but I don't want to regret the hard work I put into it. I simply did not manage to be at my very best. I hope to regain confidence. I understood from past experience that the Vuelta suits me better than the Tour and my idea is to get focused on the GC in the first week but first I need to get my confidence back. I will see how it goes by next Sunday and if I'm no longer in contention, I will switch to stage wins, which are the main goals for my team. It's going to be an open Vuelta with lots of opportunities to seize."


Kenny Elissonde (FDJ): "My goal is to try and play a role, to breakaway. I can't see myself going for the GC during three weeks. I finished 16th last year but everybody keeps telling me about my win in Angliru in 2013. To finish 12th or 13th would be the same. I'm going to try and do what I do best that is climbing up mountains and there are a lot of stages which inspire me. I'm going to race differently from what I did in the recent past. A stage win would be just great."


Yvon Sanquer (Cofidis Team manager): "The goal is to ride a little bit like on the Tour. Unfortunately, we don't have Daniel (Navarro), who was finishing the Tour in great shape before he crashed and would have been at his best here. We have guys who can go in the breaks. Stephane Rossetto is probably the rider we can rely the most on for the GC. He's solid and consistent. Luis Angel Mate is a man of attempts and he can go in the right break."



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