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"If you fail to win, the season is worthless. A sprinter lives on his victories and this year has been a winless one. For the first time since my second season, I hav not won anything. I cannot be happy," Ventoso tells Biciciclismo

Photo: Sirotti




01.11.2013 @ 17:35 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

With 25 career wins, Francisco Ventoso is one of the most successful riders on the Movistar Team but the Spaniard has ended his 2013 season empty-handed. Despite having been better than ever in training, the sprinter is disappointed by his season and will adjust his race schedule to avoid a similar failure in 2014.


Franisco Ventoso had barely turned professional with Saunier Duval in 2004 when he won his first race on a stage in the Tour of Qatar. Since then, the fast Spaniard has added 24 wins to his tally, with 2005 being his only winless season.


Until 2013, that is. For the first time in 8 years, Ventoso had a winless season, with his 5th places in Trofeo Palma and GP Nobili Rubinetterie being his best results. Since joining Movistar in 2011, he has taken 9 victories but in 2014 he was unable to add to a generally successful season for his Spanish squad.


The lack of results come as a surprise for Ventoso who claims to have been better in training than ever before. That counts for nothing though as he has failed to translate it into results.


"If you fail to win, the season is worthless," he told Biciciclismo in an interview. "A sprinter lives on his victories and this year has been a winless one. For the first time since my second season, I hav not won anything. I cannot be happy."


"The data are worthless but I improved compared to 2012," he added. "In training and in races, in tests, in the intervals, in my maximum efforts, the data have been substantially better. And that has been conflicting with the fact that I didn't win."


He now plans to analyse why he has failed to translate his good form into wins.


"My level was very high, the best ever, but the tactical and mental aspects have denied me the wins," he said. "You have to accept it and try to change it. I want to find out what happened and not make the same mistakes.


"What mistakes? Positioning, spending too much energy in the first part of the race, all the small details that make the difference because it is often the smartest rider who wins, not the strongest. Furthermore, the sprints are becoming more specialized and I have to compete with great teams that reduce my opportunities."


Ventoso is not your typical sprinter as he climbs better than most of the fast finishers. Most of his wins have come in hard races where he is fresher than some of his faster rivals.


Having realized that he is unable to match the best sprinters in the traditional bunch sprints, he plans to change his race schedule to focus on the mountainous stage races whose hilly natures make them less suited to the pure sprinters.


 "Maybe I should make a schedule that suits my characteristics better," he said. "I like races where you cannot organize a sprint train and where a select group arrives at the finish. I have to focus on that in 2014. I have races like Volta a Catalunya and Criterium du Dauphiné on my mind where. The sprint finishes are less organized and so it is perhaps easier to fight for the win."


Ventoso has often raced the cobbled classics but has never featured at the pointy end of the prestigious races. He may have to skip them in the future.


"Sanremo is a race I like but I don't know how it will change with the new climb," he said. "I am especially fond of the Belgian classics. I know I'm not at the level to win because they are very tactical races which are always won by the strongest but I am excited by their history and the passion in Belgium. We'll see what is best to do: to go to races where I can win or to the classics where I can do well and give my maximum but where I know my limitations. Last year I skipped Roubaix to ride the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon and I won two stages."


Ventoso has a special affiliation with the Giro as he won stages in the race in both 2011 and 2012. He still doesn't know whether he will go back to his preferred grand tour.


 "The Giro is a special race for me," he said. "We are discussing the calendar and it will depend on what Nairo [Quintana] and Alejandro [Valverde] decide. Yes, I would like to repeat my wins in the Giro."


Movistar is mostly known as a team of climbers, with the sprinting division having been made up of Ventoso, Jose Joaquin Rojas and Enrique Sanz. This week the team announced the signing of talented sprinter Juan Jose Lobato and he is a welcome addition.


"I think he is a great rider with unquestionable quality and he has matured during the past year, " he said. "If we help each other, it's better for everyone to have more support."


Ventoso will stay with Movistar in 2014.



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