Garate: An Adopted Italian at the Vuelta
– Reported by Gazzetta dello Sport –
MILAN, 3 September 2002 – He’s a Spaniard among the Spanish, but at the Vuelta he’ll go, according to him, feeling like an Italian. Not that he’s missing a patriotic spirit, the paradox is simply rooted in the fact that Juan Manuel Garate spent his first years as a pro in Belpaese, cultivated by the myth that the Giro d’Italia is the greatest objective in the world of cycling, notwithstanding his past success in the Vuelta, last year he won a stage in Vinaros. In his home race, that begins this Saturday the 7th of September in Valencia, the cyclist from Irun will be the main man for the Lampre-Daikin team along with Pavel Tonkov. Twenty six years old, less than three years in the pro ranks, but he is already mature enough to handle the burden of being a team captain. He garnered a strong fourth place showing in the Giro d’Italia, where he battled for a podium position with Caucchioli until the final time trial in Monticello Brianza, placing himself in front of his Russian teammate Tonkov.
“I feel the pressure, because racing in front of my home crowd is always emotional – confided Garate to Gazzetta.it – My situation, however, is very different from the other Spanish racers. I race for an Italian team, the most important race of the year for me is the Giro d’Italia and I’ve already disputed that. To confirm my placing in this race would be great, but also very hard, the rivals from the Spanish teams have a great amount of motivation”. On the subject of sharing team leadership with the more experienced Pavel Tonkov he admits that, “Pavel comes to the Vuelta with better condition than me. After the Giro I had a tooth extracted and the antibiotics debilitated me. I asked to race the Tour of Portugal because at my home it had rained for two months straight and it was difficult for me to train. But only at Melinda and Friuli I’ve found again the good legs. My form is growing, we’ll see. The first week will be immediately hard: if I fall far down the GC I will look for stage wins”.