An interview with Carlos Barredo, November , 2007
Carlos Barredo finished his first full season on the team of his dreams - Quick.Step-Innergetic. The 26 year-old, who has aspirations to specialize in the classics, says that 2007 gave him a taste of the action amongst the specialty's best. Cyclingnews' Gregor Brown reflected with the Spaniard about his first season with the Belgian squad and asked Barredo to look ahead to 2008.
Carlos Barredo was in a difficult position when Cyclingnews last spoke with him at Quick.Step-Innergetic's team camp in Marina di Bibbona, in late 2006. The Spaniard was getting to know his new Quick.Step team-mates but was in the unique position of not being entirely sure what would come of his existing contract with Manolo Saiz's now-defunct Liberty Seguros squad. As the week of training pressed on, the rider from Asturias warmed to his new team-mates and most importantly received a call from his former boss giving him the all clear to kit-up in his new Belgian squad's blue colours in 2007.
"Yeah, back then I had two contracts, one with Liberty and one with Patrick [Lefevere]," recalled Barredo in the lobby of Stuttgart's Hilton Garden Inn just after finishing his lunch. "So much has changed. This is a team that works completely for the one-day races, whereas the team [Liberty] last year was one that worked and trained for stage races."
Quick.Step was structured around one-day specialist Tom Boonen and dual World Champion Paolo Bettini. "This year has been important because I have progressed a lot," he explained. "I was able to ride the Classics well in the spring, and also, for me, a good Tour [de France] working for Tom. Afterwards, the San Sebastián went well and then the Vuelta [a España]. I think that this year I was able to have three good peaks with good form, it was difficult but I did it and now I am very content.
"It was strange to see Tom Boonen always working of me. It was strange for me but also beautiful." -Carlos Barredo on his super-star team-mate working for him during the Vuelta
"The peaks were the Classics, up to Liège-Bastogne-Liège, after the Tour, up to San Sebastián." To prepare for the Vuelta, "I made a break of five days after Liège and then after San Sebastián I did a stop of five or six days without touching the bike. I took a small vacation, not at the beach, but at home. Afterwards, I did not feel so well, I would ride for two days and need another two or three days to recover. Although, it was good for the head."
Then Barredo did something few expected of him; the fourth-year professional finished 10th overall in the Vuelta, which included placing third in the stage to Granada and fourth in the final time trial. "The first week of the Vuelta did not go extremely well, but at the end it went very, very well," he said with some modesty.
Stage racing abilities are what fans and directeur sportifs usually expect from riders of the Iberian Peninsula, but Barredo signed with Quick.Step-Innergetic to improve as a cobble-Classics rider. "For me it does not change anything," he said about his strong stage race results. "I joined this team because it is the best team in the world for one-day races. 'Betto' [Bettini] and Boonen, they are riders who know these races, and I am here to learn from them. I think that my Vuelta result does not change anything; next year I want to race the Classics, above all [Tour of] Flanders - we will see. This year, I had a good April, and after fifth in San Sebastián, which were both important."
In the Spanish three-week Grand Tour Barredo was impressed by Belgian Boonen and Italian Bettini. "At the start of the Vuelta I was there to work for them. I wanted to get stage win while working for Tom and 'Betto'. After Luarca, the stage that Bettini won, I felt pretty strong. The day after, he said to me that you can ride a good classification, and from that moment the team was rallying around me. I did the first time trial and it went well, finishing eight in the overall classification. I made a mistake on the stage to Ávila, I lost about three minutes on the first climb of the day [Porte de Mijares - ed.] because I was a little nervous. In the end, arriving 10th was good for the team and also for me. I am content, everyone worked well and for them it was like a victory. I think it was only the second time that Quick.Step had a top 10 in a Grand Tour."
The 26 year-old's strong showing in the prestigious race posed another unique experience for Barredo, with the Tour Down Under stage winner having both Bettini and Boonen get bottles for him during the stages. "Yeah, and not only this, it was difficult for me to think that they were always in front of me for the wind and that was strange because I have always regarded them as grand champions and the to see them in front of me blocking the wind.
"That stage to Granada, with the wind, 'Betto' was in an escape with [Andrea] Tonti but I was getting dropped in the main bunch," he remembered. "'Betto' pulled up from the escape and dropped back to work for me and then Tonti. This seemed really strange for me, it was not normal. They say to me that I worked well for them at the beginning of the year and that now they would work for me. It was strange to see Tom Boonen always working of me. Everyday, up until the last climb, he was always next to me asking if I needed something to eat or drink. I remembered it well on the stage to Andorra. It was strange for me but also beautiful."
Planning for 2008
Barredo is ready to continue punching above his weight in 2008, but he first needs rest and relaxation. He plans up to 30 days of being off the bike before preparing for 2008. "First I want to take a rest...after I will talk with the directeurs," said Barredo. "I think I will do 15 days to a month with out doing anything. Whatever I have the desire to do - if one day I have the desire to hike in the mountains, I will go. I will take this break and afterwards start in the gym, do some swimming. Then, around the middle of December I will start on the bike again."
Both Bettini and Boonen have homes in the Principality of Monaco that they use as a base for training and to get away from their home counties, however Barredo will spend the winter in his home region of Asturias, on Spain's northern coast. "The temperature is great," he said. "Sure, some times it can get nasty. However, I was born there and for me it is normal."
Barredo has already lined up training partners for those winter rides at home. "Chechu Rubiera, Samuel Sánchez, Benjamin Noval of Discovery and Santi Pérez, Daniel Navarro of Astana...In the winter we are all most always together, but when the serious training starts we are always going alone," he said.
Barredo also says he has a good idea of how he wants his 2008 campaign to go. "I think at the end of this year I have accumulated 90 days of racing, and for modern cycling that is not a little - it is a lot," he said. "In my second year as a professional, in 2005, I did 105 days of racing. Next year, I think I will want to do the same as in 2007; in addition to doing Flanders, up through Liège. I like the number of racing days I had in 2007."
The Ronde van Vlaanderen on April 6 is one event that Barredo hopes to contest in 2008, with the Spaniard adding that he'd like to contest the Classic many times over the coming years. "I talked to Boonen a few times in the Tour de France about this," he noted. "It is a race that I have the desire to do; I think I have the abilities to help Tom, also it will help me for the future. I hope to race a lot of editions.
"Then [after Liège] I will have a break and rest, and start to prepare for the Tour de France," he added. "I like the Tour; to work for Tom and to have my chance in two or three escapes. Then I will race San Sebastián and take another break, just like this year."
Barredo's most recent victory came back at the beginning of 2006, at the Tour Down Under in Australia, and although he has was content with his 10th place in this year's Vuelta, podium on Stage 15, and fifth in the Clásica San Sebastián, he wants to put another first place in his palmarès. "It was a long time ago, huh?" said Barredo. "To win is important, but I think this year was important for me was that there were a lot of great races that I competed in and where I was up front," he outlined. "This bodes well for the future."