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"I talked to Eusebio [Unzue]. In the Tour, I had a short and bad experience [in 2011]; in the Giro I have done well and have controlled the race but I want to try the Tour. I think it is a good year to go with Valverde or Nairo, to lea...

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BEÑAT INTXAUSTI

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MOVISTAR TEAM

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31.12.2013 @ 16:20 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

In 2013 Benat Intxausti continued his gradual progress when the talented Spaniard won a stage, wore the leader's jersey and finished in the top 10 in the Giro d'Italia and won the Tour of Beijing at the end of the year. In 2014, he will skip the Giro to ride in a support role at the Tour de France and hopes to win the Vuelta al Pais Vasco in the first part of the season.

 

Before he had even turned professional, Benat Intxausti had been hailed as one of the greatest Spanish talents. Moving to the elite ranks in 2008, he spent a few years learning the trade but he has gradually revealed the true extent of his potential.

 

After finishing 10th in the 2012 Vuelta a Espana despite working in support of Alejandro Valverde, Intxausti had his best season this year. Having been selected as the team's captain for the Giro d'Italia, he rode an impressive race to win a stage, wear the leader's jersey for a day and finish 8th overall and again proved that he can handle the strains of a three-week race.

 

After failing to reach his best condition for the Vuelta, he left the Spanish grand tour on an upwards trajectory and ended his season on a high when he took his first overall win in a WorldTour stage race at the Tour of Beijing in October.

 

With that kind of results on his palmares, it may have been tempting for Intxausti to go back to a grand tour to try to improve on his past showings. However, the Movistar team also has Alejandro Valverde and Nairo Quintana in the ranks and the duo is set to be given the captaincy duties in the three biggest stage races.

 

This leaves Intxausti with fewer options to chase personal success but the Spaniard is happy to use the opportunity to learn even more. Having only done the Tour de France once - in 2011 when he left the race with a broken hand - he will skip the Giro to return to La Grande Boucle where he is likely to ride in support of Valverde.

 

"I talked to Eusebio [Unzue, Movistar manager]," he told Biciciclismo. "In the Tour, I had a short and bad experience; in the Giro I have done well and have controlled the race but I want to try the Tour. I think it is a good year to go with Valverde or Nairo, to learn and grow. Who knows if I can even go for the win in the 2015 Giro?

 

"The Giro is different from the Tour but is an equally tough race," he added. "The month of May have done good things for me, the terrain, the way we race... It is a special race for me but I also want to try the Tour. Will i do the Vuelta? It remains to be seen. After doing the first part well and then contesting the Tour, I think I will do other races, maybe San Sebastian, Burgos and the Canadian classics. To do the Vuelta would be too much of a racing burden."

 

 

This year the Tour includes a stage on the feared pavés of the Paris-Roubaix. To prepare for the challenge, Valverde will ride the E3 Prijs Harelbeke in the spring and he will be accompanied by Intxausti

 

"At the moment, it is almost 100% guaranteed that I will do the Tour instead of the Giro," he said. "So I will do two cobbled classics, Harelbeke and Gent-Wevelgem, to test the materials, learn the races and do a reconnaissance of the Tour stage over the pavés. After Romandie, I will take a good rest and prepare for the Tour de France which for me is a major change."

 

Intxausti has already finalized the schedule that will allow him to reach the Tour in the best condition.

 

"I ended my season well," he said. I took a rest, stepped off the bike and had nearly five weeks without touching it. In December, I started slowly again and have now had a month of preparation. In 2014, I will start earlier, in Argentina, with a different approach to prepare better for the first part of the season. We know that San Luis is a good city to train in so with a teammate [Fran Ventoso] I will travel to Argentina ten days before the start. Then I will do Mallorca and a training camp on El Teide to prepare for Pairs-Nice, the two cobbled classics, Vuelta al Pais Vasco and Romandie."

 

Intxausti delivered his breakthrough performance in the 2010 Vuelta al Pais Vasco when he finished 3rd behind Chris Horner and Valverde in the Basque race (Valverde has later been stripped from his 2nd place). In 2013, the race will be his main personal goal as defending champion Quintana is likely to skip the race as he prepares for an almost guaranteed participation in the Giro.

 

"First of all I want to grow," he said. "I have my eyes on the Vuelta al Pais Vasco. This year my main objective in the first part will be the Basque Country, to try to win it which is my dream. And I would love to go for the win on a stage of the Tour."

 

Intxausti joined Movistar in 2011 but struggled in his first year with the Spanish team. He has a contract until the end of the 2015 season and would like to stay where he is.

 

"When I finished the Giro, the first thing I said to Eusebio [Unzue] was that I wanted to stay with them," he said. "Things have been very good, I can't complain about our deals and I was very clear that I wanted to stay with Movistar because I've have felt very comfortable during my first three years. The first one was very difficult and their support meant a lot to me."

 

Intxuasti will make his season debut on January 20 in the Tour de San Luis where he will ride alongside Quintana.

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