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An interview with Carlos Barredo, January 2, 2007
Moving to the classics team
Young Spaniard Carlos Barredo had the weight of the ProTour on his mind in late 2006, although he would have preferred to focus instead on his upcoming spring campaign with the leading classics team, Quick-Step. Cyclingnews' Gregor Brown spoke with him in southern Italy during the team's first training camp for 2007.
Barredo, 25, is unassuming and he could easily be mislabelled in a squad mostly consisting of Belgians and Italians. He is a Spaniard who is not of the typical mould but one who loves the cobbles of the north; a perfect fit for Quick-Step. He and Juan Manuel Garate are the only two Spaniards on the Belgium-based team for 2007, a team that is better suited for Barredo's talents.
But Barredo had some problems joining the team. He had spent the later half of his 2006 searching for a new team but he was still listed as a rider for Active Bay, the management company of Manolo Saiz's defunct Liberty Seguros-Würth team. When I met Barredo in December he did not want to talk publicly because he was still concerned about Active Bay, and if it would keep its ProTour license.
"I want to wait until tomorrow [December 14] to talk more, and then we will know for sure about Active Bay's license. I am not tied to Marc Biver [new Astana team - ed.] but to Active Bay. ... I don't talk to Saiz, he sent me a text message two weeks ago but we are not really talking.
"I have already signed a two-year deal with Quick-Step but there is a clause in the agreement that says if Active Bay keeps their ProTour license then I cannot race with Quick-step. So, as long as I am under contract with another ProTour team I can't race for Quick-Step."
While observing the team training on December 14, I viewed Barredo in deep conversation on his mobile phone at the back of the Quick-Step training ride. He continued talking for about 20 minutes, following the rest of the riders at about 10 metres back. When the boys stopped for a break, Barredo explained, "I was actually just talking with Saiz. It is not official yet, but he will be faxing all of the riders under Active Bay contract and letting them know that he is pulling out of the running for a ProTour license."
He was still hesitant to say forthright that he would be with Quick-Step for 2007, but he was obviously happy for the news from his former boss and to know his contract problems were over.
"I will start the season in Mallorca [February 11], I will do a couple of races in Italy, then the Ardennes Classics and Pais Vasco," confirmed Barredo, looking head to racing in 2007. "This year it will be too hard to be on the team for the Tour de Flanders or Paris-Roubaix because we have Paolo Bettini, Tom Boonen and Peter Van Petegem, plus my mind is not in the right place after a hard 2006. I will aim for 2008 to do my favourite classics. And of course, Flanders is really a race I like a lot."
Do you plan on learning all the cobble secrets from Boonen? "Ah, I hope. He is impressive. But I will also learn from Bettini in the other Belgian races, the Ardennes, like Liege and Flèche."
"But even if I am not doing the big races this year, like Roubaix and Flanders, I will make sure to ride with the team when they train for the course. I joined in last year for their rides. I was based in Belgium for 15 days, living near the Molenberg, the same area [Brakel - .ed] as Van Petegem."
"In fact I have been talking a lot with Peter Van Petegem. He is really helpful; we speak in English or Italian. He was my hero when I started racing," continued Barredo. He rotates his notebook towards me and shows a photo from the 2005 De Panne where he is riding right in front of the Belgian star.
Like Spaniards Oscar Freire and Juan Antonio Flecha before him, Barredo is forging his way with a foreign team, a team where he will learn volumes about racing the famous one-day races. "It is great being on such a team like Quick-Step, it is really a classics' team. I can learn so much from these riders."
Barredo has formed some fond memories after having ridden Roubaix twice. "When I rode the Roubaix the first year with Liberty I had two rolls of tape, but still at the end of the race my fingers were going numb. I was biting my fingers to wake them up but it was not working. Then, I don't know why, last year [2005 - ed.] the mechanics only wrapped the bars once, but it was fine.
"I think the bikes this year will be great," Barredo commented regarding his new Specialized machine. "We will have the special Roubaix for the classics. The geometry is important for riding over the cobbles. At Liberty they only gave us a change in frames, so we rode aluminium instead of carbon bikes, but they were the same geometry. I changed the gearing; I remember that I used a 54/44 chain ring on the front."
Carlos Barredo was set to ride his first grand tour this year. In June he was part of the ill-fated Astana team that went to Strasbourg to start the Tour de France. The team missed the presentation and then due to other team members being involved in the developing Operación Puerto investigations the nine-man team was not able to participate.
It was strange visiting the Astana team in those days. They were based in the Château de l'Ile; an elegant castle-hotel near Strasbourg. "We were playing pool in this grand room," noted Barredo while the Tour was crashing around him. "[The team problems] really affected the last half of my season. My mind was not into the racing so much, but on a new team and what our team would be doing."
He did take part in the Vuelta a España with Astana; they went on to win the race with Alexander Vinokourov and during the race he forged a stronger friendship with Paolo Bettini. The Italian was preparing for the world championships but he also took time to call Patrick Lefevere and put in a good word for Barredo. He noted, "I think this helped me get on the team. Bettini is really good guy.
"He really likes to talk and talk. On the other hand, I want to learn a lot from Boonen but he can be a little quite and reserved. He has so much attention from the press."
Barredo talked a lot of his new Italian and Belgian teammates but did not forget to mention his fellow Asturianas. "I have been really happy with Sánchez this year," he noted. At home, in northeast Spain (Asturiana) he will sometimes join Samuel Sánchez and José Luis Rubiera for training rides, thus he was especially pleased with the former's fall season. "He did so well at the Worlds and then, of course, at Zurich. Bettini did a longer and more epic escape in 2005, going solo at 35 kilometres left to race, but I was really happy for Samuel.
"I was having a hard time. One of the doctors told me I was overweight at Zurich and Paris-Tours so afterward I made sure that I finished the Giro di Lombardia," said Barredo with a touch of attitude. "I was only two kilograms over-weight after the Vuelta but really it was more mental, with a tough second half of the season."
Cyclingnews' February 2006 interview with Carlos Barredo.