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An interview with Aitor Osa, May 9, 2005

Basque Pride

He is from the Basque Country, won the Vuelta al Pais Vasco in 2002, was second in the 2003 Flèche Wallonne and is one of Illes Balears' best riders. Cyclingnews' Hernan Alvarez Macias meets Aitor Osa.

Basque pride is at stake
Photo ©: AFP
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Osa is a typical Basque man. When he is not on the road, he lives in a town called Deba, a village by the sea with a population of 5,000 people, in the same province as San Sebastian, known as Guipuzcoa. In the inner part of this northern Spain, a common element is mountains. Lots of them. This is where he began riding - and still does.

Cyclingnews: How is the season going for you?

Aitor Osa: So far things are going fine. The only bad thing is that I lack a win. I've been at the front of many races, but I haven't won anything at the moment. I've had good placings, but no victory as yet.

CN: How did you see yourself at Vuelta al Pais Vasco?

AO: I was there at the front, but it was a shame not to reach the podium in the end after so many days with the yellow jersey. Not to get in the top three and not to win the stage where I ended second [Stage 2 - ed.] That's the only thing that makes me disappointed.

CN: However, you were there with the best in the peloton...

AO: Yes, as I told you I was second on the second stage and I wore the yellow jersey until the last day. Then, at the end, I was three seconds away from the podium and that's a real shame.

CN: What did you lack to win this race, which you won in 2002?

"Mancebo demonstrated he could be at the top last year, and this year he is able to get in the top five."

- Aitor Osa also holds belief in his team-mates, and feels Francisco Mancebo is capable of a top five placing at the Tour de France

AO: I think I lacked a little bit of toughness and strength. Both things. If I had been a bit stronger, I think I would have reached the podium. And also if I had been tougher, I could have ended on the podium.

CN: How did you go in Flèche Wallonne, which you rode recently?

AO: Very well. I was eighth, but there were riders stronger than me, like [Danilo] Di Luca and the others. I was with the leaders like on other occasions, but winning is really hard.

CN: This race, Flèche Wallonne, seems to fit you pretty well for its parcours. In 2003, you were second behind Igor Astarloa...

Aitor Osa celebrates
Photo ©: AFP
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AO: Yeah, that year we reached the finish line together. Five or six years ago, I don't remember very well, I was thirteenth or fourteenth [Osa was thirteenth in 1999 - ed.]. Then, this year, I was eighth. I achieved many good places, but let's see if I can win some day.

CN: How is your relationship with Igor Astarloa? Are you friends?

AO: Yes! We get along each other very well, and that year when we got in the breakaway together [2003 Flèche Wallonne], we understood each other very well and we made a gap quickly. Then, the best one won because he was stronger than me and he beat me very easily.

CN: Is winning at the Vuelta a España an accomplishment still left for you [to win]?

AO: Yes, because I have been close [Osa was 9th in 2001 - ed.], but I never won and this is something I would really like to do. This year, during my second performance peak, I want to be in shape for the Vuelta, but now it's a long way down the calendar. Let's see if I can do well in Catalonia and then we will start to think of the Vuelta.

CN: How do you get along with your brother Unai?

AO: Very well, we have always been together in the same teams as we are now. We will see if he does well in the Giro d'Italia and we can both renew our contract in this team where we are.

CN: Do you compete with each other?

AO: No, just when we are training.

CN: Do you have any advantage having a brother doing the same thing in the same team?

AO: No, nothing else than training together and being together in the hotel rooms. I'm always with him in all the hotels and it's better than sharing a room with a partner whom you don't know. That's the only difference. We always shared the hotel rooms in every race. That's good.

CN: How do you see your team leaders' Francisco Mancebo and Alejandro Valverde for this important coming part of the calendar?

Aitor Osa riding well in Switzerland,
Photo ©: Anthony Tan
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AO: Valverde is going to ride the Tour [de France] just to learn. He won't receive the pressure Mancebo will, because he [Valverde] was going at his best and now he will go to learn. [Valverde] will be looking for a stage to win, but Mancebo will handle more pressure because Paco has been thinking of the Tour and will be there when the day comes. Mancebo demonstrated he could be at the top last year, and this year he is able to get in the top five.

CN: How is the current season going for your team Illes Balears?

AO: So far, the team, except from three or four riders, is doing pretty badly. I think that some riders who are assigned for the Tour and the Vuelta have hardly ridden. I think now they start racing and that will be noticed. Apparently, from May or June the difference should be noticed.

CN: Did you mark some other race in your calendar, apart from Vuelta al Pais Vasco which is special for you, to distinguish yourself?

AO: At this moment, after this first performance peak, it will be my second peak at the Vuelta a España.

CN: What's your next races?

AO: I won't ride the Giro. The next race will be the Volta a Catalunya and then I'm not sure if I would do some race in Switzerland. I don't know yet.

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