Omega Pharma - Lotto's Oscar Pujol getting used to Belgium
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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Omega Pharma - Lotto's Oscar Pujol getting used to Belgium

by Bjorn Haake at 5:11 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Spaniard adapting to team in relaxed atmosphere

oscar pujolAfter the Cervélo TestTeam faded away at the end of the season, Oscar Pujol was in need of a new employer. Omega Pharma - Lotto picked up the Spaniard in its quest to support Jurgen van den Broeck and Philippe Gilbert in their respective season highlights. Pujol has joined his Belgian colleagues for the first get-together of the season, which is traditionally set in a relaxed atmosphere. The focus is to get the new riders acquainted with the team.

Pujol confirmed that the days weren't filled with hard training. "It is more entertaining than I expected," he says in an interview to Sprint Especial. "Initially I thought it was going to be something really tough, like at Saxo Bank. But we really only did activities together to be in a group, like team meetings and get-togethers."

In the international world of professional cycling, Pujol expects no trouble adjusting to the new team. "In all the teams I adapted well to my teammates, and I hope this one will be no different." He did admit that the first days were a bit tough. "You don't know anybody, but it is just like the first days in a new college," Pujol says. For now, frequently changing roommates will make sure he gets used to everyone.

Pujol hasn't had any results yet, but he is there to get better and learn. "This year was really good for me, and every year I feel better." His late attack in the Vuelta a España stage to Bola del Mundo showed his possibilities. He was eventually reeled back in, finishing 12th on the day. "I am very excited and motivated, only hoping for next season to get the same or more out of it than this year."

Pujol will be ideal helper in Grand Tours as well as in one day races. "I already told the managers that I am very well suited to work for the others, but if I can get my own chance, all the better. The last two years I have been pulling, including in the flats." This has made him a valuable team player, at the expense of going for glory himself. "In the stages that suited me I didn't have the power to do more than ride to the finish."

The 27-year-old only enters his third season as a professional and joins one of the longest-running teams in the sport. "For me, it is like a dream." Pujol rose slowly  through the amateur ranks, working his way up to the limelight. "Now I am in a team that is 25 years old. We were practically born together." Pujol is impressed with the high status of cycling in Belgium, which at times is even more popular than Europe's sport number one, soccer.

So far, Pujol has only one Grand Tour under his belt, the Vuelta a España. It didn't start ideal, either, as he was on reserve. "I was only called up three days before the start in Sevilla," Pujol says. He was still able to finish his first three-week Tour, in 66th place.

This year, he hopes to do the biggest race of them all, the Tour de France. "I knew it was impossible this year. I want to accomplish the dream of every child who rides a bike: ¡¡El Tour!!"



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