The sun, making its way through the clouds (Photo: Inigo Mujika)

The sun, making its way through the clouds (Photo: Inigo Mujika)

I guess many of you are as tired as I am of hearing about doping in sport, but it is the reality that we live these days and we cannot put our heads under the ground and pretend such issue does not exist. Here is part of an interview I did recently for a German publication. With this interview, and especially with my work, I hope to make my contribution towards a new time for cycling and sport in general.

Have we come to a new era of cycling with Armstrong’s confession and the Operación Puerto trial?

I think that the new era of cycling has been unfolding for several years now, based on the internal reflection of all stakeholders in the sport and the recognition that the ways of functioning had become obsolete and major structural changes were necessary. These two cases, with all their media coverage, could be considered as the vestiges of the old cycling. Cycling has already entered another phase and such change does not have or should not have a way back.

Doping does not exist in cycling anymore?

It is difficult to say this emphatically, just as such a statement cannot be made regarding any other sport. The control system is demanding and strict in this sport, even more so than in any other sport, and this makes it relatively difficult that cases of systematic doping occur, such as those that could have happened in the past, as we are now seeing. We cannot dismiss, as cannot be excluded in any other sport, that isolated cases can continue happening, but I doubt that doping may be an endemic disease of the sport itself in the future.

Is it possible to reach the top in cycling without doping nowadays?

Of course it is, provided that everyone plays the game by the same rules. As it always happened in the world of sport, the best, the most talented, those who work harder reach and will continue to reach the top in cycling.

Are there ways to improve the performance of a rider in a healthy manner?

There are very few secrets in the world of modern high-performance sport. Performance improvements arise from a systematic application of proven scientific principles in the areas of training, nutrition, proactive recovery techniques, sports psychology and other sciences associated with sport, such as biomechanics, physical therapy, sports medicine, etc. The use of these techniques in a systematic way, but also with creativity and a spirit of innovation allow the athlete to give the best of himself in training and competition.

What type of training are you implementing at Euskaltel Euskadi? What is the philosophy?

The philosophy is the one that I have just mentioned: basing the work on proven scientific principles, but without leaving creativity aside. The best coaches are artists in their field, they are the ones who know how to best combine all the knowledge, methods and means at their disposal to achieve the best results. It is clear that every coach has his own philosophy of work and his own personal baggage, but from my point of view the good coach should not just follow their “formula”, but should be flexible and adapt the work according to the information that they should be constantly gathering, both objective and subjective. The athlete is a complex biological system, and training must adapt to this complexity, responding to the risks and opportunities that may emerge throughout the preparation process.

Will we see outstanding performances in the future or should we get used to be less demanding of cyclists?

The world of elite sport is based on exceptional performances. That’s where records and great sporting feats come from. I don’t see why we should not continue to witness great performances, magnificent entertainment provided by the cyclists during racing. What is or is not exceptional may simply be a subjective assessment by the observer. Crossing the finish line a few tenths of a second ahead of 200 professional cyclists with an incredible talent and trained to win is, from my point of view, an exceptional performance, regardless of the race and whatever the finish times may be.

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