How is Mikel Landa doing after the injuries suffered at the Giro?
-Before the operation, as Mikel himself said, his body was made into flour. Beyond knowing how he is doing, I called him to encourage him.
Despite the severe damage to his collarbone and ribs, will he be able to recover in time for the Olympics?
-The athletes are made of another paste and are capable of everything. All I want is that his injuries heal well and that we have Mikel Landa for a while. Above all, that he does not speed up his recovery to reach a competition and then that will pose a problem for the rest of his professional career. It is time to be calm and patient. I’m sure that with that things will work out.
Are you optimistic about your diagnosis?
-We do not know anything about whether he will arrive at the Games on time. Broken ribs have their history… It will not be easy for him to recover as fast as he would like. If things are going well, you first have to complete five weeks of rolling.
In the event that Landa did not recover in time, would Valverde be the sole leader of the team?
-Indeed. In my head, there were only two fixed runners: Mikel Landa and Alejandro Valverde. Now one of them is in doubt, so we will have to turn 200% with Alejandro.
What objective does Spain have in the Tokyo Games?
-The real goal is to get a medal. I think Alejandro has shown this season that he can meet that goal. Mikel was showing that he is one of the best cyclists in the world, until he had the fall, and that he runs very well in races that are over 200 kilometers.
Gonzalo Serrano, who showed a good level in Tirreno and Andalucía this year, has been one of the riders who has shown good progress in recent seasons. But what names are on that possible list for Tokyo?
-I can’t put forward any names. In Gonzalo’s case, I think more of him for the World Cup, not for the Games. We must wait for the Tour de France, because he will be a judge and will take part in this. Let’s hope that what happened with Landa does not happen to us with any other Spanish cyclist and that we are lucky enough to wrap up Valverde as best we can today.
Until you retired after a hard fall, how did you see Marc Soler as Movistar leader in the Giro for the first time?
-A Soler I have seen very well. I think that little by little he is consolidating and realizing that he can go back to being the Marc of other years, as he demonstrated in the last Tour of Spain.
Do runners like Mas or Soler himself still have room for progression? Or what has been seen of them so far is their roof?
-I think that both Soler and Mas can still progress. They have to learn to know each other better and they will surely be competing in the races that we all have in mind. What happens is that there are people who explode earlier and finish their career early, and others who explode late and have more travel.
The World Cup is presented with a route in the purest Tour of Flanders style. What options will Spanish runners have there?
-This year we saw a cyclist who for many was unknown, but who was with me from lower categories, such as Alex Aranburu. Iván García Cortina can also do it well. We must also bear in mind that in a World Cup at the end of the season, I do not consider Valverde lost. It can give a scare to anyone, even a World of stones. That’s the reality. We have Gorka Izagirre, who works very well for this type of terrain. As I always say, the Spanish team has to attend each championship, at least, with the goal of a medal.
On a course so conducive to runners like Wout van Aert or Mathieu van der Poel, is there a way to beat them?
-We will have to play, the race is for that, either to go ahead or wait for our moment. But of course, we have options. If we didn’t think that, we wouldn’t go to the races. Who would bet that Alpecin was going to get so many victories as a continental team? No one. We have to think the same.