Manuel Cardoso ready to jump on winning bandwagon
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Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Cardoso ready to jump on winning bandwagon

by Bjorn Haake at 1:19 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 

Manuel Cardoso is ready for a big season, after taking out the race of his life at the Tour Down Under, where he won stage three. The Portuguese elite road champion is now getting ready for the Challenge Mallorca and the European part of the racing season.

Cardoso doesn't think the win changed his mentality. "I hardly changed my mind since the success. Simply, this victory only helped me to gain confidence," he said during a break from his intense training to get ready for the next races. "The win has shown I can be up there with the best sprinters, but there is no point in looking back. The important thing is to look forward, get big results and give your maximum effort on a daily basis to ensure you can always bring some results to the team."

The 26-year-old was picked up by Footon - Servetto, after having a great 2009 season for Liberty Seguros. He netted several wins, including a stage at the Volta a Portugal em Bicicleta. But riding for a ProTour team hasn't changed everything, like his training habits. "I just started training a bit earlier. I always did my best, whoever I rode for and worked on a daily basis to give results to my squads."

Cardoso won in Australia thanks to a timely move inside the final kilometer, but he would classify himself as a sprinter, albeit one who likes tough finishes. "It's the kind of racing I like the most. Every kind of sprint suits me, but the uphill sprints are the best for me. You have to take care of your energy, not only jockeying for the position in the field."

And it is a matter of having a good day. "If you feel right, like I did in Australia, it's easier to do well [in an uphill] than in a flat sprint, and that's why I always feel attracted to these hard arrivals."

Already before the season, Cardoso made his ambitions clear for 2010. "When I made that comment on beating Cavendish during the team's presentation, I was just pointing out my dreams: to keep improving, to overcome difficulties and beat the best in his terrain, as we all aspire to do."

The atmosphere on Footon-Servetto-Fuji is great and Cardoso knows why that is. "The secret on everything regarding the team is the fact that we're all so young. I'm 26, and I'm already one of the oldest riders in the group. The key point is that we have a bunch of happy lads, with a desire to do well. When you work in a good mood, everything is easier."

Season goals

Cardoso really thinks from race to race, so he hopes to do well in the Mallorca Challenge or the Volta ao Algarve. "My objective remains to be up front as many times as possible." He noticed in Australia how hard it is for a sprinter to be consistent. "Sometimes you feel strong and get up with the best, something you don't, and thus you are out of the sprint contention."

Cardoso wants to spend the first half of the season to obtain more podium spots, which could net him an invite he is longing for. "I will train for the second half, with the chance to be in a three-week Grand Tour. It's a dream, because I've never been to one, and even though I'm one of the riders with the best chances to race them, I know it won't be easy, because so many young riders will fight for their place."

Whether or not he achieves this ambitious goal remains to be seen, but there is still a highlight for him. "Another goal is the World Championships in Melbourne. After last year's race I talked to the directors in the Portuguese Federation and made my point clear. In previous editions, the route didn't suit me or I was very young, but I'll be strong enough in 2010 and I will try and take a big result."

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