MADRID, August 11 (EUROPA PRESS) –
The winner of the 2006 Tour de France, Óscar Pereiro, assured at the moment when Spanish cycling is going through the roof that “it is a mistake to focus everything on Enric Mas” because “he is not Alberto Contador”, adding that the Mallorcan will be more appreciated if he understands that they cannot be compared.
“I think it’s a mistake to focus everything on Enric Mas. Enric is not Alberto Contador, he is Enric. When we understand that Enric is Enric, we will appreciate him for who he is and I think he will break free and start playing at a higher level than he does now,” Pereiro explained in an interview with Europe Press.
The Galician argued that this comparison doesn’t make sense because “Alberto (Contador) had a way of competing that was very different from him, an aggressive runner, he was the best in the world at the time”, while “Enric is a runner who has some very good qualifications to take part in big races, a runner who is a born long-distance runner but does not have the character of Alberto”.
For Pereiro, in Spain it is not appreciated “that the first person who wants to excel is the athlete” and that sometimes this does not happen. “If you’re not performing or things aren’t working out for you, it’s either because you’re not doing well, you haven’t prepared well, or the preparation isn’t a good fit for you,” he added.
“In the end, it’s like we Spaniards were used to: Tour, there will be a Spaniard who will be up there. And then in this country we are used to the minimum of liquidating people, I saw it with Nadal , who was more than four, five or six years ago, with Fernando Alonso, with Enric Más, I saw it with so many people. Now we have to keep our feet on the ground,” said the former cyclist.
Pereiro went back to the early 21st century when Spanish cycling dominated the world scene and won the Grand Tour. “It’s a time when we’ve achieved very cool things. For three Spaniards to win the Tour in four years is milk, it seems incredible to me,” he said.
The former winner of the 2006 Tour recalled that “it seemed like there was a gap since Miguel Induráin, although it is true that Beloki appeared, sometimes Olano tried it himself”, but that since his victory in the French round “until 2012 or 2013 it was crazy.” “With Carlos (Sastre), Alberto (Accountant), Purito (Rodríguez) on the podium, Samuel Sánchez. Was that normal? Well, it’s just that that wasn’t normal, and what we have now isn’t that normal either,” he added.
Now, after a Tour de France that saw only four Spaniards finish, Óscar Pereiro is asking for patience as he desperately searches for cyclists who can win a Grand Tour. “We’re making the same mistake, we’re already looking for a replacement. Luckily I think we’re in a period where Mikel Landa and Enric Mas, among others, have to give us results somehow,” he said.
For the future, the Galician believes that “there is an interesting generation”. “Juanpe López is 24 years old, he is a very young boy and then I know that this will end in Ayuso and Carlos Rodríguez, two runners who, I repeat, have potential, they did very cool things, they aim very much high, and if we let them fly free, they’ll probably be the candidates to fill the void we’re feeling on this tour, but we’re not asking it of them anymore,” he explained.
However, please be patient. “The fact that we’re seeing Pogacar win the Tour de France at the age of 21 doesn’t mean someone else has to win it, mature it and by the age of 23, 24 or 25 everyone comes out a little bit , we’ll see where he is again,” he condemned.
HE BELIEVES THAT WITHOUT COVID-19, VALVERDE WOULD NOT FOLLOW
This edition of La Vuelta will be the last for Alejandro Valverde, who will retire in 2022 and share a team with the Galician. “I think Alejandro has been around since 2002 or 2001. I’ve been his colleague for 15 years, I knew his career was going to be very long, the deadline wasn’t,” he explained.
“I was sure he was going to be a runner who would be on the bike for many years because he has a talent first, one of those that are born, they touch him with a magic wand and say, ‘Boy, dedicate you to the bike, you’re going to be hell’, and then because he likes this sport so much, so much that he enjoys competing so much and is so competitive that it sucks,” said Pereiro.
The one who was a professional cyclist until 2010 believes “if it wasn’t for COVID-19, Alejandro wouldn’t be competing today”. “Alejandro, I think he’s extended his career for two more years to say goodbye the way he deserves, with the public in the trenches, walking up to him, taking pictures, receiving love. We will miss him a lot for the way he runs, the way he is, what he brings, it will make me very sad, the truth,” he concluded.