Riding with his heart and head
A man whose name is never far away from the break, Constantino Zaballa was a supporting actor during the 2003 and most of the 2004 editions of the Vuelta a España, until he played the starring role late in 2004. The Saunier Duval man put many frustrations behind him on September 24 last year when he won his first Vuelta stage after a lonely 108km breakaway in Villalba.
That victory was the beginning of a sweet period for the Spanish rider. He raced the World Champs in Verona for his country; he led the Vuelta a Valencia on the first day, and he stood on the bottom step of the final Paris-Nice podium with Bobby Julich and Alejandro Valverde - illustrious company indeed. Cyclingnews' Hernan Alvarez Macias caught up with Zaballa during his massage session in Liege the day prior to Liège-Bastogne-Liège, which represented his last race from the first part of a pretty busy 2005 calendar.
Cyclingnews: Was it important for you to take third in Paris-Nice?
Constantino Zaballa: Yes, of course. I think it is an important achievement and one that can change me for better as a rider. This makes me see that at certain moments, when I am fit, I can fight for one-week tours.
CN: That represents a big step forward in your career, right?
CZ: Yes, I think it is like a reward for all these years of work. Little by little I am improving and taking quality steps in performance terms.
CN: I guess that winning the 19th stage of the 2004 Vuelta a España was meaningful for you?
CZ: Yeah, that's another triumph based on perseverance and the daily work that I'm proud of. I think it was a nice way of winning and it was something I always had in mind; to try to win a big tour's stage out front by myself.
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