Thursday, November 01, 2012

Blázquez waves goodbye to cycling

Leaving behind something you've lived for is never easy - especially when you leave feeling you haven't been able to fully express yourself. That's the case of the once-promising Orbea rider Andoni Blázquez, who's decided to put an end to his cycling career after four injury-plagued years with Euskaltel's feeder team.

The 25-year-old kindly took time to sit down with Basque Cycling News to reflect on his years as a professional bike rider, and how it feels to put the bike away for good.

Question: How does it feel to leave cycling? It's always been a big part of your life.

Answer: For me, cycling has been everything these last few years. More than just a sport: a way of living, a day-to-day job. A cyclist needs to be a cyclist 24 hours a day. Not only when you're on the bike, but also when it comes to rest, what to eat, taking decisions with a view to improving every day. With time, I think I've learned to lead a life like that.

Q: What's the hardest to leave: the bike itself, your friends, the races...?

A: The routine. Getting up in the morning and seeing that you don't have to train, that you have to find another way to live your life... The friends will always be there - I'd take 99 percent of the people I've met in this business to a deserted island. The truth is I've met brilliant people. The races themselves aren't that important, they're just a part of your office.

Q: What will you do now? Go back to school?

A: Now is a time to reflect and decide what direction I want to take in my life. I want to return to work in order to feel useful again, and to start another professional career.

Q: Generally speaking, are you content with your career? Or do you leave the sport feeling bitter?

A: I leave with the feeling of not having been able to show all that I'm capable of. The injuries have restricted me - two and a half years on the sidelines is a long time.

Q: What was it like being on the sidelines for so long?

A: It was really bad on a personal level. Time passes, you're not getting better, races go by, and you're just stuck in your home, and all you want to do is to train. I was on crutches for a month and I'm still feeling bad. I didn't have a very grave injury, and perhaps that's the reason we didn't pay enough attention to it. In the world of elite sports, you're either at a 100 percent or you're out.

Blázquez, to the left, celebrating winning the climber's jersey in May's Tour de Gironde - one of few highlights the last years.

Q: How has the team supported you during these difficult times?

A: The team gave me all their support and never turned their back on me. The best specialist were put at my disposal, and the personal support I've received has been incredible. I've had my downs, but the team have always motivated me, refused me to throw in the towel and encouraged me to always look ahead.

Q: In general, how has life at Orbea been? 

A: When I joined the team, I thought it was huge. But when I got to know it from the inside, I realized it was a humble team and the tools at our disposal have been incredible. In short, I'd say it's a very humane team with a family feel to it.

Q: What's your proudest moment on the bike?

A: The moments when you've crossed the line, having worked for a team-mate and he goes on to thank you for helping him win, will stay with me. Especially in the case of Romain Sicard.

Q: Who's been the most important person to you during your career?

A: My point of reference has been Mikel Astarloza - I've always tried to follow his example. Along with my training group, we've always trained together, and we've learnt a lot from him.

Q: Will you stay in contact with the world of cycling in the years to come?

A: I would like to do that, yes. I think I can bring experience to the field, and in the near future I can see myself working in this business. I think the world of cycling is the world I know the best.

Q: Finally, what do you make of Euskaltel's change of philosophy?

A: I'm very sad to see it, but this is a decision made necessary by the UCI and their much-discussed points system. Euskaltel was much more than a team: it was a group of friends, a family working for each other, and this was seen in the peloton. Let's home this 'romanticism' remains in the new project.


Chris said...

Thanks BCN for this interview! All the best for Andoni outside the cycling world.

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