Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Ibai Salas interview

Ibai Salas is a name known to most with an affection for Basque cycling. The 21-year-old has been knocking on the doors of the professional teams for quite some time with his exploits, first, in the red of Seguros Bilbao and, now, in the famous green of Caja Rural. Never has he knocked quite so loudly as he is doing right now though, having enjoyed a breakthrough campaign in Euskal Herria as well as in Spain and overseas.

Winner of a Copa de España race in Aiztondo, conqueror of a stage and the overall in the Tres Días de Álava, victor in the Campeonato de la Península Ibérica, bronze medallist in the Spanish sub-23 champs, Spanish representative in the Tour de l'Avenir... It's been quite a year for the Zamudio, Bizkaia, resident, so no wonder he expressed his contentment when talking to Basque Cycling News. What was more surprising, though, was that there's been no contact whatsoever from neither Orbea nor Euskaltel.

Question: Congratulations on a truly impressive season. Are you happy with the year?

Answer: Yeah, truth is I'm very pleased. It's been a great year for me. Besides my triumphs, though, what I'm most happy about is my consistency.

Q: And I guess you're content with your team's season?

A: Yes, the team's been fantastic. We've obtained 27 victories through 11 different riders.

Q: What would you rate as your most pleasing performance?

A: It would have to be the Aiztondo Klasika, the Copa de España race I won. My sensations on the bike were unbelievable - the best of the year!

Q: And what could you have done better this year?

A: I would have liked to have done better in the Tour de l'Avenir, a race I think I prepared to perform well in.

Q: Will you stay with Caja Rural next year?

A: Yes, I'll stay on with Caja Rural.

In his second year with Seguros Bilbao, Salas took out the sub-23 Euskadi championships, beating Naturgas' Igor Merino and Debabarrena's Sergio Ruíz. Photo: 

Q: Have you had any contact with the Fundación Euskadi? Have you had any conversations with, for example, Aritz Arberas or Miguel Madariaga?

A: No, the Fundación Euskadi haven't been interested in me. 

Q: Is riding for Euskaltel a big goal of yours, or do you aspire to turn pro with Caja Rural?

A: My big objective is to become a professional. If that is to be with Caja Rural, having ridden for their filial team, that would be great, but, obviously, being Basque I've always dreamed of riding for Euskaltel.

Q: What do you make of the team abandoning its philosophy?

A: Personally, I liked their philosophy and policy of only allowing Basques in their team. But the rules of points and the Pro Tour have made them change it.

Q: For those who do not know you that well, how would you characterize yourself as a cyclist?

A: I consider myself to be a good climber, a fondista, with a good finishing kick and a strong sprint on explosive finishes. 

Q: You spent two years at Seguros Bilbao before teaming up with Caja Rural. What's the difference between the two?

A: I had two good years at Seguros Bilbao, but then I got the chance to join Caja Rural. I weighed the pros and cons and decided to change teams, and I'm happy here at Caja. It's a great team where you're never lacking anything, and the atmosphere couldn't have been any better! Both are great teams.

Trophies haven't been hard to come by this year for the 21-year-old - here pictured after winning the Aiztondo Klasika. Photo: Caja Rural

Q: Who's your biggest idol in cycling, and who's the strongest rider you've ridden with or against?

A: My favourite riders are Joaquin Rodríguez and Damiano Cunego - they're two greats. This year, the strongest rider I've come across might be Arkaitz Durán. 

Photo: 200 pulsaciones

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