Caisse d’Epargne's Gutiérrez comes of age
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Friday, November 27, 2009

Caisse d’Epargne's Gutiérrez comes of age

by VeloNation Press at 4:22 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews

Today Caisse d’Epargne's Iván Gutiérrez turns 31, and after a tough 2009 season the Spaniard wants to get back to his best form for what will be his eleventh season as a professional. Gutiérrez started his career in 2000 riding for the Spanish Once team, and in 2002 began his relationship with director Eusebio Unzúe at Unzúe has worked with some of Spain's greatest cyclists including José María Jiménez, Pedro Delgado and Miguel Indurain. In a recent interview, Gutiérrez discusses his 2009 season and his goals for 2010.

Were you able to achieve your goals in 2009?

I was far from being my best during 2009, so I was unable to achieve all of my goals. I never felt perfectly well all year, and it showed since I wasn't unable to win any races, something that has never happened to me since I began riding a bike - not even when I was competing as a junior. I would always win at least a few races, and this is the very first year I have not been able to do it [win].

I was feeling tired all season. But I don’t want to be too negative, because I was not that bad and I was still able to do my job for the team by helping my team-mates when they needed me. But I am capable of winning certain races and be the team leader, but that was not possible for me this year.

Even though I wasn't at my best level, in a race like the Tour de France I was still able to work well for the team. Late in the season when I usually have my best form I was sick, so I wasn't able to defend my win at the Eneco Tour. It's safe to say that this year was not a very lucky one for me.

How do you explain your performances?

This year was different in that I had a lot of personal problems that affected my riding. But I don’t want to make it too dramatic. Each year is different, and when things don't go the way you planned it is important to figure out why things went wrong so you can prevent it from happening again. This winter I am resting much more than I did last year because I believe it is very important for me. At the end of 2008 I started training to soon which I think it was a mistake.

You renewed your contract with Caisse d’Epargne. What does this team mean to you?

This team is a part of me. 2010 will be my ninth year under Eusebio Unzúe’s direction. I am one of the veterans of the team. The younger riders respect me and are able to take advantage of my experience. While in many cases I end up working 100% for the team leaders, it is very important to me that the team gives riders like myself the opportunity to win races as well. With every race we do we almost always have a rider that can win, and throughout the year the team gives everyone an opportunity to go for a victory.

What are your goals for the 2010 season?

I never have well defined objectives before starting the season, but I am best suited for the one week stage races so I concentrate on those events. I would like to start the season very well in Australia [Tour Down Under] to take advantage good early season fitness, because in spring I usually start to suffer from allergies, so it's difficult for me to get good results on the bike. Later in the season I hope to make the Tour de France team before focusing on good results in the August and September races.

What about the goals and objectives for your team?

The objectives of the team will be the same as always. It will be important to achieve a great Tour this year more than ever considering the fact that the contract with Caisse d’Epargne comes to an end at the end of the year. We will also have to see what decision the Court of Arbitration in Sport takes concerning Alejandro Valverde. Apart from that, we have a team which is strong enough to be on the podium in just about every race we start. We never have a meeting at the beginning of the year to define objectives. We chose them according to the opportunities we meet during the season.

The last race in which you participated was the Tour of Chihuahua in México last October. What have you done since then to prepare for the 2010 season, and how are you planning to train for the rest of the winter?

For the most part I have rested [since Chihuahua]. I did some sport but it was more for fun than any sort of focused training . But from here on out I will start training hard again. I will go to the gymnasium, to the swimming pool and start riding my bike at the same time. At first I will train three or four times a week on the bike, according to the weather, before progressively increasing the frequency and the rhythm. I want to be in good shape as soon as the 2010 season starts.

With yourself, Ángel Madrazo and Juanjo Cobo it makes three riders from Cantabria on the Caisse d’Epargne team. Is cycling now at its best level in your region?

We always have had good riders in Cantabria. The problem in cycling is that there are not enough teams for everybody. Having three riders from our region on a team like Caisse d’Epargne is important. This team is without a doubt one of the best in the world, and for us it really means a lot to ride on such a squad. I don't think that a lot of people realize the strength on the team, but it's a place where any professional rider would like to ride. Even for someone like me who has been on the team for many years, it is still difficult to make it on Caisse d'Epargne.

Your brother David will turn professional on the Footon-Servetto-Fuji ProTour team this year. Will you be giving him advice now and throughout the season?

I believe that for a young rider like him the change will be very hard. To move from the amateur category to professional, and to do that on a ProTour team is a big move. He has already started training hard. He is far along in his preparation as compared to me, because I explained him that for a young rider it is very important to have a good start to the season to feel good mentally. It is key for him to begin the season having already reached a good level.

He will pass through a lot of normal days, many bad ones and maybe also some good ones, but what he needs to do is adapt to riding at that level. His biggest problem will be that the difference between the amateur and ProTour racing is very big. Young riders would be better off to get some experience on a continental team before moving to a ProTour team, but the instability on those teams makes it so a riders prefer to race in agony for a ProTour squad rather than have to beg on a continental team.


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