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“Yes, it is true that last year I wanted to improve. Although it wasn’t my best year, it was not too bad. My performance level was not so good. Maybe I did not have the same freedom and opportunities as I had last year."

Photo: RCS Sport

BEÑAT INTXAUSTI

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05.11.2014 @ 14:23 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Starting in January in Argentina and finishing in October in China, Beñat Intxausti has had a long season. The Movistar climber acknowledges that it has not been his best year and that he has been unable to follow the progression he showed last year when he won a stage and wore the leader’s jersey at the Giro d’Italia and won the Tour of Beijing. In 2015, he wants to return to his best level as he enters his 8th season in the professional ranks.

 

In 2014, Benat Intxausti lined up at the Tour de France and reached the finish in Paris after a race where he had been hampered by illness. He had his best races in the Tour de Romandie where he finished sixth behind Chris Froome, Simon Spilak, Rui Costa, Mathias Frank and Vincenzo Nibali, and the Tour de Pologne where he was third behind Rafal Majka and Ion Izagirre. Now enjoying his off-season, he has been riding his mountain bike in the Basque Country and is hoping to return to his best level in 2015 after a disappointing 2014 season.

 

“It is not about turning the page,” he tells Biciclismo in an interview. “Yes, it is true that last year I wanted to improve. Although it wasn’t my best year, it was not too bad. My performance level was not so good. Maybe I did not have the same freedom and opportunities as I had last year and I worked for Nairo [Quintana] and Alejandro [Valverde] but the work and the season was not bad. It has also been a very long year. I started in Argentina and finished in China. Last year I finished in the autumn and started very early so I had little time to rest. That made it a very long season. After the Tour and Poland, my body suffered and after Beijing I am trying to rest as much as possible.”

 

Intxausti looks back at his performances in Romandie and Poland with fond memories.

 

“There were very few races where I had my own opportunities and I had to take advantage of them,” he says. “They are ProTour races, with important points for the team. Like last year, I finished third in the team behind Nairo and Alejandro. I missed a victory. I was close in Poland where I finished second twice, but it is difficult to win, especially in the ProTour.”

 

In 2013, Intxausti led Movistar in the Giro d’Italia. He paid back the confidence by winning a stage, leading the race for a day and finishing in the top 10. Next year he hopes to return to the Italian grand tour.

 

“I would like to follow the line from last year, achieving significant victories like in China and the Giro,” he says. “That highlights your season and is a prize for the hard work. I would like to return to the Giro d'Italia, maybe make a similar year to 2013. The truth is that we have not spoken with the team about the calendar yet. Much will depend on which grand tours Nairo and Alejandro want to do. Fortunately, we have very good leaders but we also have our opportunities and we must try to take advantage of them.

 

“The Giro is a race I like: the atmosphere, the dates suit me well, the weather… I’ve always been very good in that race, unlike in the Tour that have given be bad experiences.”

 

Intxausti is especially looking back at his stint in the maglia rosa with fondness.

 

“To see yourself on the podium with champagne and the pink jersey is very emotional, something that I will remember forever. And the stage win was equally or more beautiful. You can’t really compare them.”

 

Intxautsi made his breakthrough when he finished on the podium in the 2010 Vuelta al Pais Vasco. The home race still plays a special role for the Basque.

 

“I’ve always said that it is a very special race for me,” he says. “I have been on the podium. I was second in 2010 and finished in the top 10 but it is very difficult to win it. It has been on my mind and is my dream. I hope that I will get it someday.  Above all, I enjoy racing at home with the fans, and I hope to do so for many years.”

 

This year Intxausti was set to play a key role for Alejandro Valverde in the Tour de France but the race never turned out as he had hoped.

 

“This year we changed the calendar and did the Tour instead of the Giro. There was a positive thing: I made it to Paris for the first time. I know that it was not a very good Tour and I did not do the work that had to be done. I had to be next to Alejandro in the mountains. I started quietly. I was good in the Vosges and from there I started to feel worse. I was sick with a fever and eventually took antibiotics to overcome the virus in the last week. It is true that I had a good day, the first day in the Pyrenees on the Port de Bales. We took time on  Bardet and van Garderen but otherwise I was not able to do anything. It's a race that I liked but I have not enjoyed IT. Someday I'd like to do more than enjoy and do something nice as I have done in the Giro or the Vuelta.”

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