Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Interview: Dioni Galparsoro

Not every rider gets two chances to ride for his home team. Along with Egoi Martínez, Dioni Galparsoro was one of the lucky few. Coming out of the talent factory that was Óscar Guerrero's amateur Caja Rural team at the turn of the century, the gifted native of Ataun, Gipuzkoa, joined his local team when it was at the top of its game with Ibán Mayo, Haimar Zubeldia, Roberto Laiseka et al. in 2003.

After two highly decent, if a tad unspectacular, years playing second fiddle to some of the biggest names to come out of the Basque Country, the then-26-year-old decided to step down a level, teaming up once again with Óscar Guerrero at the much-loved Kaiku team for 2005 and 2006. After a couple of years which saw him take a pair of wins and consistently display his climbing legs and all-round ability, he was once again back in the orange fold in time for the 2007 season. For the ensuing two years he rode the Giro d'Italia and racked up a bunch of healthy placings in domestic races, before waving goodbye yet again to a team then led by Igor González de Galdeano to close out his career with a year at that man Guerrero's Contentpolis-AMPO team also featuring a certain young hopeful named Gorka Izagirre.

After having been out of the game for three years, Basque Cycling News decided to see what the former fans favourite was up to these days, and to discuss Guerrero's arrival at a much-changed Euskaltel.

Question: You retired at the end of the 2009 season. What are you up to now?

Answer: Now I work as a commercial technician in an industrial machinery company.

Q: Do you still follow cycling?

A: Not too much, mainly just the biggest ones (the Giro d'Italia, the Tour de France and the Vuelta a España) and when my schedule allows it. But I do keep in touch with my cycling friends to see how they're doing.

Q: Your cycling career was a bit atypical: you signed for Euskalte in 2003, left two years later, then came back another two years after that. Can you tell us how that happened

A: My second season with Euskaltel (2004) was very good, especially at the start when I was fighting for the wins in hard races with top-level riders. I don't think Euskaltel valued the improvements I'd made enough, or that the offer they made me was up to my level at the time. That, and the fact Óscar Guerreo was creating a new team, made me leave the team.

Dionisio with long-term mentor, sports director and friend Óscar Guerrero.

Q: Looking back, are you pleased with your career as a whole?

A: I honestly think I could have done more, but I didn't have too much luck on my side at certain moments of my career.

Q: What was your best moment?

A: On a sporting level, the second year at Kaiku. On a personal level, both my years at that team.

Q: Do you miss cycling?

A: I don't miss competitive cycling. But I do miss the good times cycling gave me, friendships, making trips to the south to train when it was cold here, the excitement you feel ahead of new challenges... that sort of things I do miss.

Q: What were the main differences between Kaiku and Euskaltel - apart from the level of races, obviously?

A: Basically, Kaiku was a team with a small budget but with great enthusiasm, much camaraderie, a lot of passion for the bike, an eagerness to do things well, much clarity, much democracy... At Euskaltel, I think they could have done things differently.

Q: What do you think of Euskaltel's decision to hire Guerrero as a sports director next year?

A: I think it's the best signing they've done in years. And I don't say that because he's a friend of mine, I say it because it's the truth.

Q: What were your years in the amateur ranks like? At that time, Caja Rural was a really potent team, right?

A: Yeah. Jorge Azanza was there, Egoi Martínez, Gorka Verdugo, Pablo Urtasun, Aitor Pérez... We were a pretty strong group, yeah.

Q: You won the Memorial Valenciaga - a very prestigious race - in 2002, beating, among others, Iñigo Urretxua (current Naturgas Energía DS), David López García, Rubén Pérez, Luis Pasamontes, etc. How did that race unfold?

A: It was a very easy day. I went on the last climb, and Urretxua got on my wheel. Later, a small group joined us from behind, but I managed to win the sprint, which was on a gentle rise. It was a very nice day.

Q: You picked up two wins with Kaiku in 2005 - was it your best year?

A: It wasn't bad, but at that time I wanted more. I had a throat operation in the middle of that year, and that stopped me from doing even better.

Galparsoro rates his years at Kaiku as his most enjoyable - no wonder with that kit.

Q: On the whole, how was your life as a professional cyclist? Was it like you expected?

A: When you were young you started to dream when you saw your idols, and you thought that that world had to be marvelous. Later, there's youth, inexperience, a need to show what you can do, you're in a hurry... and other factors that doesn't really allow you to fully enjoy the professional world. I consider myself lucky to have been able to live that dream, but I don't miss that life.

Q: How was your experience with Euskaltel?

A: It had a little bit of everything: good moments, average ones, bad ones... I'd say that, during the first stage (with Julián Gorospe at the helm), we were more of a local team. During the second, with Igor González de Galdeano, it was a different mentality. Everything was a bit more meticulous, surely because during that time span, cycling changed its way of working.

Galparsoro spent four years and did two Giri d'Italia with Euskaltel - but took his only professional triumphs with Kaiku.

Q: And what do you think of the team's decision to abandon its philosophy?

A: I think it's legitimate that a private company invests the money at its disposal as it sees fit. Though I don't agree with it, I understand it. Years ago, I think supporters of the Basque Country would have criticized this change. But unfortunately, with all the damage that's been done to the sport, I don't think people will care all that much if Euskaltel sign Basques, Catalans or riders from China.

Q: And, finally, what do you make of Lance's sanction? Was it just?

A: Not looking at whether he doped or not, Armstrong was one of a kind, a genius. It's like you asking me whether I consider it fair that they remove a painting by Dalí from the Museo del Prado because he painted it under the influence of a psychoactive drug that was forbidden... Only a genius could have done what he did - someone who's not, couldn't.

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