Giro Rider Interview: The Giro d’Italia enters its final weekend in Milan after a battle royal for the overall prize and the ‘King of the Mountains’ competition. Luke Maguire managed a few words with one of the climbing protagonists, Dimension Data’s Spanish rider, Omar Faile after his Giro stage 11 win.
PEZ: How is life in the WorldTours only African team?
Omar Fraile: Fantastic to be honest. Just before the start of the season the whole team went to African for nine days. It was a great trip, getting to know the whole team and especially the sponsors. We went in 2016 also and it’s a really beautiful place. When we were there we linked up with one of the teams sponsors, Qhubeka, and we were helping to distribute bicycles to underprivileged kids.
PEZ: Who would have told you at the start of your career that you would be at an African team?
I think it came about because of the circumstances surrounding Spanish cycling. The sport has suffered a lot there and it has gone through a bit of a rough patch. In the Basque Country for example the disappearance of Euskaltel-Euskadi was a huge blow. That left a lot of guys out of contract and a lot of us had to migrate to other teams. Luckily I am in a team where I am happy and that supports me a lot.
PEZ: Until now in your career you have got most of your best results from breakaways… Is that your speciality as a rider?
I feel like I am still maturing as a cyclist and still getting better every year. I said it from the start of the year that if my condition was good that I could definitely win a stage of a Grand Tour. That was my goal from the start of the year so I am delighted with that.
PEZ: How was that Giro stage victory?
It was incredible. It couldn’t have gone any better. I had been dreaming of the win since the beginning of the season. I’ve had a passion for the Giro since I was a kid, it was my grandmothers favorite race and we would watch it together when I was younger. It was my best win ever without a doubt.
PEZ: Are you planning to do the Tour de France this year?
No, the teams plan will be to focus one-hundred percent on Cavendish if he is fit. I don’t think that my style of riding would be of much use to the team in the hectic sprint finales because that is not my style of riding. It is better for me to focus on other objectives and let the sprinter guys help Mark at the Tour.
PEZ: Is Cavendish a big figure in the team?
Absolutely. He is a great rider and a nice person too. He is definitely a reference point within the team. He brings the group together and works hard to earn his victories.
PEZ: How are you getting on with speaking English?
I came to the team without speaking a word of English and now I am able to converse well with people. I think it is a great opportunity for me t learn and will be important for my future. Coming from Spanish teams it is a big change for sure, but a positive one I think.
PEZ: Igor Antón told me that one of his dreams would be to spend his final season in a team like Euskaltel… Is that something you hope for some day?
Of course. Hopefully someday the Basque Country will have a team like Euskaltel again and I will be able to come home. That’s not to say I am not happy where I am, because Dimension Data is like one big family. We have many different cultures in this team and coming from a place such as the Basque Country which has a strong cultural identity gives me huge amount of respect for these different cultures. But at the end of the day, racing in home colors with all the local support is something indescribable. As a cyclist the feeling of being in a local team at the top level is amazing… hearing your name shouted on the roadsides.
It will be a great day for Basque cycling when it happens.