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"It is very difficult because they are very great riders, the best in the world. Every year I improved a little. I will try to progress a little more. I am 31 years old and I think it is a good age. I think I can do it."

Photo: Sirotti


19.11.2014 @ 12:23 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Daniel Navarro will chase a stage win in the Tour de France with a Cofidis team that is set to change with the arrival of sprinter Nacwr Bouhanni. The Spaniard hopes to retain his status in the French team and will again do a schedule that is tailor-made for him. Having put his withdrawal from the Tour de France behind him, Navarro was close to Alberto Contador, Alejandro Valverde and Chris Froome in the Vuelta a Espana which was a great stimulus for the Spaniard and this winter he is training with the aim of being even closer to the elite in 2015.



After the first team gathering at Cofidis in Lyon last week, Daniel Navarro knows how his third season with the French team is likely to pan out. "I want to stay here for several years," he told Biciciclismo after meeting his teammates.


In the past, Cofidis has mainly been built around its many climbers but next year things will change. The team has signed Nacer Bouhanni and several lead-out riders and the former French champion is set to be the clear leader of the team.



"In the last few years, we have had a good group," Navarro says. "The problem was that we did not win a lot. And now they have invested heavily in Bouhanni who is a great sprinter and some kind of guarantee, and they have built a team around him. But there are still other riders, climbers like me. We hope to step up. Bouhanni's arrival will take off some of the pressure because the team will have more options."



In 2014, Navarro abandoned the Tour de France after a poor start to the race but returned to form in the Vuelta a Espana where he finished in the top 10 overall and took a memorable stage win.


"The Tour is a race that I like," he says. "This year I arrived in very good condition so I was so sad about leaving early that I did no longer want to train. But it only lasted for two or three days and then I was focused on the Vuelta. And having done just 13 stages put me in a very good position for the Vuelta. I was not tired and could work well at home which allowed me to reach a very high level. It was not only my stage win and the 10th place in the overall standings but mostly my good feeling of being in the group with the best and being able to attack. I have kept those memories: to get to that level and start to try to win is very important to me."


His goal now is to get closer to the best riders.


"Let's try to work for it," he says. "It is very difficult because they are very great riders, the best in the world. Every year I improved a little. I will try to progress a little more. I am 31 years old and I think it is a good age. I think I can do it. If I progress a bit more, I may not be beating them but I will be closer to them which is the hardest thing. It would be nice. "I know that Quintana, Froome, Alberto and Nibali are the best in the world and it is very difficult, but I will try to work well and if I progress a little more, I will not be far behind. There is much work ahead of me."


Next year Navarro's main goal is a stage win in the Tour de France.


"I have already finished in the top 10 of the Tour and the Vuelta and won a stage of the Vuelta," he says. "I only miss a stage win in the Tour. I think that it will be my goal for this year: to do a good Tour that suits me very well, with many stages that fit my characteristics. Without neglecting the GC, I am mainly trying to win a stage like I did in the Vuelta. The final part of the Tour suits me and the climbers."


Compared to many other riders, Navarro is doing very little racing.


"I like to ride well when I am racing," he says. "I think it is very important to train and take care of yourself at home to go to the races with a very good base. I don't think I have ever done more than 70 days of racing, maybe only in a year when I did two grand tours."



Navarro joined Cofidis to get the chance to be a team leader. He appreciates his position in the team.


"I am very happy with the team because I am highly valued and they offer me a lot," he says. "I can choose my schedule... It the perfect team. It does very good races. This year we even want to go to the Giro. For me it is important to be comfortable in an environment and I would like to stay here for several years."


Nonetheless, Navarro only signed a one-year extension of his contract.


"It is a stimulus," he says. "I try to make things right and expect not to have bad luck. This happened this year. The good thing is that i saved it all in the Vuelta. Catalunya, the classics and the Tour were all bad. Andalucia, the Dauphine and the Vuelta were the exceptions. It is a small risk. I hope to have a good season and stay at Cofidis. Cycling is in a very difficult time and there are very good riders on the market."


Navarro will now start to prepare for the new season and he may decide to travel to the south.


"I am always looking at it from time to time," he says. "If I see that I will have bad weather in the next week, I will try to train at another place. I go to Marbella with [teammate Luis Angel] Maté. Until now, I have mostly been at home. It is important for me because from January I will be much away due to training camps and races. I wanted to avoid to leave now but it is evident that I will have to do so if the weather is bad."



Navarro already has planned a big part of the coming season.


"I will start in Murcia, Almeria and at the Ruta del Sol," he says. "Last year in almost won in Cabra, two years ago I won in Murcia. I want to have a good start to the year and reach a high level, knowing that I am not as good in the first part of the year as I am later on. Then I will do Paris-Nice if it a bit harder than last year which seems to be the case. In principle, I will skip Catalunya because it comes too early and then I will do the Vuelta al Pais Vasco, a race that I relly like. Three races in a row is too much. And to end the first part of the season, I will do Fleche and Liege. Last year I was in good condition but a virus affected me just before the two races and I did not finish any of them. Then it will be the Dauphiné before the Tour de France and the Vuelta a Espana if I'm still okay."



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