Warren Barguil “ready to assume a leadership role in some stage races”
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Monday, December 02, 2013

Warren Barguil “ready to assume a leadership role in some stage races”

by Kyle Moore at 9:20 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Maintaining perspective but hoping for progression after breakout Vuelta a España

Warren BarguilAfter an active but relatively inconspicuous first half of his rookie season, Warren Barguil (Argos-Shimano) went to the Vuelta a España and burst onto the scene in a big way, becoming a household name in a week’s time by winning two stages in four days.

Double victories in his debut Grand Tour have the 22-year-old Frenchman trying to maintain a rational perspective, while also hoping to take the next step in his second full season, and hoping to be entrusted with some leadership as his Argos-Shimano team takes on the big stage races.

In the offseason, Barguil has already indicated that it is difficult to keep a lid on his enthusiasm, which could be due to the unforeseen success.

“I really did not expect to be able to produce such a season in my debut with the pros,” Barguil told directvelo.com. “For me, 2013 was primarily to be a year of transition. I was told that it would be almost impossible to go win a race, especially since I had a big program with a lot of races at WorldTour events. Regularly riding with the world’s best, I came to realize all the progress I have to make yet.”

Before his Vuelta arrival, Barguil had little impact while racing in Paris-Nice, the Tour of the Basque Country, the Tour of Turkey, and the Critérium du Dauphiné. Barguil is the first to remind us that he endured his fair share of struggles.

“Contrary to what one might think, I wasn’t always at one-hundred percent of my ability this season. I had some problems, especially after a fall at Paris-Nice,” he added.

“The Tour of Spain may have changed my career, and given me even more desire to perform. I know that after these two victories, I will have more expectations in 2014, but I do not have much fear of any pressure that journalists have provided. I remain the same and I’m here first to have fun on the bike. One thing is certain – I feel I have progressed and I’m ready to tackle the next season in the same spirit as the previous.”

Though Barguil’s Argos-Shimano team features sprinters Marcel Kittel and John Degenkolb heavily, the Dutch squad has quietly built a stable of all-rounders, an environment in which Barguil feels supremely comfortable. The Frenchman stated that riding for the team as a stagiaire in late 2012 was a key.

“It helped me get my bearings more quickly in the team. Suddenly, I felt comfortable after the winter training camps,” he continued. “Argos-Shimano is a team that is totally me. This is a group with great cohesion. Nobody has to suffer under the authority of one or another leader. Everyone has his say during a briefing, for example, and this is probably why the team works so well.

“I’ll never forget the moment I crashed in the Vuelta. The team supported me, managers and riders. I think of my team-mates Johannes Fröhlinger and Thierry Hupond, who stayed by my side until the end of the stage. They reminded me that my Tour of Spain was not finished, and it is during this difficult time that I turned a corner mentally. I saw that I had some great believers in me at Argos-Shimano and it is thanks to this team that I am here today.”

With glowing admiration for his team, Barguil says that he is ready for a bit more responsibility in certain races.

“I am well aware that my role may still change in the team in 2014,” the French rider added. “I feel ready to assume a leadership role in some stage races because of work I have done [as an amateur]. I know what it is like to defend a jersey and resist pressure [Barguil won the Tour de l’Avenir in 2012 – ed.]. In fact, when I look back, I am very pleased to have continued as an amateur in 2012 because I could learn those fundamentals. To continue what I have achieved this season, the main objective will be to challenge for some stages. I think about races like Paris-Nice, the Tour of the Basque Country, the Tour de Romandie, or the Critérium du Dauphiné, although nothing is official yet.”

In regards to his 2014 race programme, Barguil revealed that the only certainties would be the Grand Prix La Marseillaise and the Tour of Oman to begin the season. He assumed he would be granted a Grand Tour start, hoping that it would be the Tour de France, but he would also like to continue his learning and progression in races such as Liege-Bastogne-Liege, Il Lombardia, and the World Championships.

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