Aitor Gonzales Talks: Interview
Last weekend Fassa Bortolo presented their new team, but it’s not sure yet whether Aitor Gonzales will officially be a part of it, as he’s still embroiled in contract dispute with his old team. The UCI will decide soon about the Spanish rider, but he participated anyway at the training camp in December. The Italian magazine Bicisport talked to him about teams, teammates, and cycling…
Bicisport: Are you really a rider as unscrupulous as the Spanish people say?
Gonzales: I’m a quiet man. A man that likes to stay with his family and with his friends. I like the relaxed life.
B: Where do you live?
G: At Alicante, with my girlfriend. Last 31 December we celebrated 2 years together.
B: Also as rider do you think to be quiet?
G: Perhaps a bit less. I think to have a great competitive temperament. But I think that a person has to be quiet and wait for the right chance. And when he sees it, the little time that it happens, he has to be able to catch it.
B: You’re a Basque. Do you think to have the character of this country?
G: I think to have many things of Basque. But I got some others from Alicante, from the friends of Madrid and I think I’ll have some others from Italian people. I feel to be an open person.
B: How did you start to cycling?
G: Where I lived when I was young, there was a guy that beat me every time. But he had a road bike, and me just a normal bike for kids.
B: And so?
G: I made my dad crazy for have it. Until one day he went away with his car and returned with the gift… A white Tarrot.
B: Did u start to run on it?
G: Yeah, and I won the first race. I was about 9 years old.
B: But when did you find the real passion?
G: In the moment when I got to choose school or sport. I decided to try sport.
B: Cycling has been always in your life.
G: I went out on bike every Sunday with my dad and some friends. I liked it very much. We call this kind of running “almerzo”.
B: What does it mean?
G: That you go out on bike, you talk, you eat and come back relaxed and happy. I liked to eat and I was always waiting to stop at any of our bars and eat something. In these times the taste of “bocadillo” is better than usual.
B: So, it was your dad who made you discover this world?
G: He was running in the master’s category. He has been also national champion. I went out with them on Sunday and then I started to run in a little team in Alicante.
B: And your mom Emilia? Was she afraid?
G: Not really. As all the moms she was proud of her son. She always said that I was great in cycling. She was saying to everybody that I was gonna become a champion.
B: Who were the champions that you liked?
G: Before everybody, Delgado. Then Indurain. But I think it’s normal for a Spaniard to be attracted by these 2 champions.
B: What did it give you and what did you understand by your victory at last year’s Vuelta?
G: I got the eyes of everybody on me, but in a different way. And everybody told me that I did something special.
B: You did a champion’s race.
G: I know that only few riders can win a race of 3 weeks. I did a great performance, but for be a great champion, I’ve to remain at high levels, and confirm myself for the next 3, 4 years.
B: Is there any other particular thing about you?
G: I think that my biggest feature is have a great confidence on myself. I do every time the max for win and I’m sure to be able.
B: Do you think that you can beat Armstrong?
G: He is the number 1 and at the moment it’s impossible beat him. To think to beat him for now it’s a dream.
B: Like the American you’re strong at time trialing.
G: It’s a natural thing. I’m strong without any particular training. On the contrary, some times I did some hard trainings for the time trial and in race I was slower than usual.
B: What’s the frequency of pedalling that you like?
G: I’ve a soft pedalling but for sure not the one as Armstrong that it’s unreachable.
B: And on hills? Do you feel strong as on time trial?
G: No, I’ve still to grow. To say the truth, I never did hard trainings for improve the hill. But I think I can have better results with a good training.
B: Is it the hill your weak point?
G: No. But when the road starts to go up, there are many riders stronger than me. If I’ll arrive at the level of the biggest part of these riders, it will be easier for me try to win the grand tours.
B: What else do you need to improve?
G: I’ve to improve my will to make sacrifices. To be thinner for all the season.
B: What did you leave at Kelme?
G: Many friends and a part of my life as professional rider. I’ll never forget the years with them.
B: With Kelme you won the Vuelta, your first important success.
G: A wonderful memory. For 3 days I’ve been walking without touch the ground. It hasn’t been a victory made on 3 weeks. But in a year of work. A big satisfaction.
B: What can you say now about the stage of Angliru, when you attacked your team mate Sevilla, who was wearing the “Amarillo” jersey.
G: Those who saw the stage and understand cycling, understood that I wasn’t attacking Sevilla.
B: Do you regret?
G: No: when you know that you didn’t do anything wrong, you feel fine with your conscience. The polemic was made by the media, that usually prefer these kind of things than the real sport. They wanted me against Oscar.
B: And what is it your relationship with Sevilla?
G: We’re friends. And there aren’t problems between us for what’s happened.
B: But we thought that day there wasn’t a great feeling.
G: I’ll repeat, when I forced the rhythm at the race, I really didn’t think that Sevilla could have problems to follow me. When I looked behind me, I saw Heras instead of Oscar. And so I could just try to stay behind Heras. Please believe me, I thought that Sevilla was gonna stay with us.
B: Did you never think to make a mistake?
G: Now I can say that perhaps it was better wait an attack of Heras and stay with him. But it’s happened everything in 200 metres of road, just 200 metres.
B: You were anyway in a great position, at just 1 second from your team mate, and the last time trial was gonna help you.
G: I’m sure that if I was waiting the attack of Hears, it could be easier.
G: Because perhaps if Heras saw 2 team mates behind him, he could wait for attack. And so I could have a littler gap from him. But I wanted to win. It’s my nature, and a sport’s rule.
B: In Spain you could become the new Indurain. Why did you choose to come in Italy?
G: The big teams in Spain are 2: Once and iBanesto. But Once has already a captain as Beloki and Gonzalez de Galdeano. I didn’t see any chance for me.
B: And the iBanesto?
G: At the end of this year the contract with the main sponsor finish. They couldn’t give me a security about later. So I chose a great team as Fassa Bortolo, the 1st team in the world ranking.
B: But Santoni won’t forgive you.
G: I liked very much what Santoni did, he offered me a contract when nobody was sure of me. I waited for long about their sponsor’s problem. But at a moment, I couldn’t wait anymore, so, I prefer to be sure about my future.
B: Do you think it’s right to compare you to Indurain?
G: I think I’m a rider that still need to grow. Of course it’s nice be approached to Indurain. But in a future, I hope people will think at me just as Aitor Gonzales.
B: Can you win the Giro?
G: It’s sure that I’ll try. Evene if I prefer the Tour’s hills to the Giro’s hills. Also if last year I arrived 6th without be at 100%. And I mistook a day. I ate bably and I payed. If I’m at the same condition of 2002, I can fight for the podium, it’s a promise.