Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Interview - Vuelta Update with Laura Meseguer

Laura Meseguer, Eurosport. Vuelta 2012.
With less than a week left of this year’s Vuelta España it’s now time for an update from the center of the race. Laura Meseguer follows the Vuelta circus everyday in her job as interviewer for Spanish Eurosport and to get a view from behind the lines I made the following interview with Laura on the second rest day of the race.

Laura. We are now already at the second rest day of the Vuelta. How will you describe the first two weeks?
I think it’s been a good show for everyone! The favorites are strong and they all show a very competitive personality which are giving us one of the most equal races this year. That being said we have also seen John Degenkolb taking four impressive stage wins and by that giving his team some good headlines which are very important for a team like his that wants to be on the World Tour.

Which rider has impressed you the most so far?
It’s impossible just to mention one. I will say all the four favorites - inclusive Froome - because of their strength, aggressiveness, consistency and the show they have given the fans. And all the riders fighting for Top10 who have to cope with the demanding pace set by the favorites. Also the whole Argos-Shimano team for the incredible strength they have shown to obtain all their good results in this Vuelta. After Stage 13 [where Argos-Shimano tried to bring back the break alone but failed by very little, edt.] many riders in the peloton were impressed by their work and Degenkolb himself said he saw it as a victory.

In your new job as interviewer for Eurosport you have a finger on the pulse of the peloton. What do the riders think of the race so far?
They enjoy it and they all agree that the favorites are giving us a good show. Of course they say it’s a very hard race, but compared to other times where you hear more complaints from the riders, they really seem to be enjoying this one.
Laura Meseguer & Alberto Contador.

And being behind the red tape of the race, do you have any good stories to tell?
Well, I can’t really think of any right now, but some of the Argos-Shimano riders told me that Pablo Lastras had come to their team bus after stage 13 to congratulate them on their hard work. Degenkolb said  he was thrilled that a cycling icon like Lastras had come to congratulate the team.

It’s now set to be a fight between Purito and Contador for the overall win. Talking with both riders almost every day, who do you see as the strongest before the last week?
I see a Purito more focus than ever and only the victory counts for him. All his victories this year, the leader’s jerseys he has been wearing and the fact he has improved his time trial skills and in the high mountains, it all gives him an immense security. Alberto is back again and he expects to win. He looks relaxed and he is giving everything he has. Still I sense some insecurity or weakness from him, even though he doesn’t let it show.

So, in your opinion, do we see a weaker Contador than earlier or just a stronger Purito than ever?
Both. It’s only normal that Alberto isn’t at the same level he was at in the Giro last year. It’s still Alberto though and everybody shows the same respect and fear as always. I think he is more or less as strong as before. Right now Purito is very, very strong and it’s clear to everybody that it will be difficult to take this Vuelta away from him.

Looking ahead, what do you think we can expect of the last week?
Uff…I don’t know, but I think we will see some drama on a stage where we didn’t expect it! It’s a feeling I have. I don’t think Bola del Mundo will make big differences in the classification though, but I’m sure the favorites will be very alert at all time the rest of the week.

Laura Meseguer & Miguel Indurain.
Bola del Mundo will be spectacular though. Do you think it will be as spectacular as Mirador de Ezaro or Cuitunigru?
Sure! And I think Alberto still have some attacks left in the tank. He won’t quit without trying again and again!

And the million Dollar question. Who will win this Vuelta?

Okay. Last one. I’m sure the riders are enjoying this rest day after three hard days in the mountains, but what about you?
To be honest, the rest day is pure agony! I just thought about  it earlier; working in TV means that we are covering more or less the same amount of kilometers as the riders are. We always have to stay alert, check our watches and make sure to send in our images on time. It’s stressful and I’ve been running around a lot! I will certainly end this Vuelta España in very good shape!

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