Former Vuelta winner Cobo moves to Torku team: “Given the circumstances, I am very satisfied to keep racing”
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Friday, December 06, 2013

Former Vuelta winner Cobo moves to Torku team: “Given the circumstances, I am very satisfied to keep racing”

by VeloNation Press at 6:42 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Spaniard will target Presidential Turkey, but squad needs to first secure an invite after two controversial years

Juan Jose CoboDays after saying that he will likely have to ride for a Continental team in 2014, the 2011 Vuelta a España winner Juanjo Cobo has inked a deal with the Torku team, joining his friend David de la Fuente in the Turkish squad.

The team is far smaller than the ones he has ridden for since turning pro in 2004, namely Saunier Duval, Caisse d’Epargne, Geox TMC and Movistar. However Cobo has achieved very little in the two years since his Vuelta success and knows he has a lot to prove.

He accepts that’s the situation and is glad to still have a job.

“The circumstances were not the most favourable after my two years in the Movistar Team and the current situation of cycling. It was difficult to find a place in the ProTour squad and so I started looking for the possibility of minor teams,” he told Biciciclismo.

“The Torku option happened thanks to David de la Fuente, who put me in contact with them. They asked me at the Tour of Turkey although I didn’t think about it until the end of the season. Given the circumstances, I am very satisfied to keep racing.”

Cobo states that de la Fuente’s presence is important to him, not least because they speak the same language and know each other well.

After winning the Vuelta al Pais Vasco in 2007, Cobo took the Vuelta title with the Geox TMC team some four years later. He beat Chris Froome and Bradley Wiggins thanks to a strong ride on the Angliru climb. That team then folded, leading to a contract with the Movistar team.

Although he was required at times to ride for Alejandro Valverde and Rui Costa, he was unable to hit good form and seize any personal chances.

In 2012 he was thirtieth in the Tour de France and a distant 67th in the Vuelta a España; this year, he rode just one Grand Tour, the Giro d’Italia, where he was 116th. He did achieve some solid results in the early season, neeting 26th in the Tour du Haut Var, 22nd in the Clasica de Almeria and seventeenth in Tirreno Adriatico, but things dropped off after that.

He is, frankly, in the last chance saloon. He’s now 32 years of age and will either turn his career back around again or fade into obscurity. He accepts that’s the situation, and resolves to do better.

“I've always said getting back to my level ultimately just depends on me: to do things well, to be focused, to enjoy the bike, heading out to train and ultimately doing the sport with enthusiasm. The truth is that I finished the season with in a good way, highly motivated, and it isn’t hard to train.”

The Torku team is a controversial one, triumphing in the last two editions of its home race, the Presidential Tour of Turkey, but then seeing both winners snagged in anti-doping tests.

The 2012 victor Ivailo Gabrovsky tested positive for EPO and was stripped of his title and handed a two year ban. His team-mate Mustafa Sayar finished third from last in that race, yet bounced back to win this year’s event. However on July 15th it was revealed that he too had tested positive for EPO, the result occurring in the earlier Tour of Algeria.

While the UCI is yet to publicly issue a ruling, Sayar has been removed from the winners’ list in the Presidential Tour and has reportedly retired from cycling.

The team will be closely watched in 2014 and, according to the race organisers, will only be able to ride the Turkish tour if it is a member of the UCI’s biological passport programme.

Cobo has confirmed that the main objective for him with the team will be the same race, and has said that he is aiming to be in top shape for that.

He accepts that he needs a strong season, particularly as he will turn 34 in February of 2015. He hopes to be able to return to the WorldTour level, but is aware that his age will require some very good results to justify a contract.

“I’m not a kid,” he conceded. “In cycling there is always the desire to improve, but first I have to do next year. I will approach things day by day. There will also be a different schedule and a different level. At the end of the season we will see if I have reached the right level.”

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