One step at a time
The new year holds many new challenges for Francisco Mancebo. The 29 year-old Spaniard has changed teams for the first time in his professional career, leaving the care of Eusebio Unzue's team Illes Balears for newly-born ProTour team AG2R-Prévoyance. On top of having to learn French, the man from central Spanish town of Avila will move to Switzerland with his wife and first child, and integrate into his new squad which is assigned to help him achieve what he and the team's management aspires most: a step on the Tour de France podium, after finishing fourth overall in 2005.
In AG2R's training camp in L'Isle sur Sorgue, southern France, Cyclingnews' Hedwig Kröner got a hold of Mancebo, who had just enjoyed a massage after having been out on a 120km ride with his new teammates - and discovered that 'Paco' wasn't too worried about his new endeavours at this moment. Taking things step by step, Mancebo revealed that he hadn't even looked at the 2006 Tour de France parcours yet, but admitted the change of environment has given his ambitions an additional boost.
Cyclingnews: How do you perceive this change of teams?
Francisco Mancebo: It's a move that has increased my motivation. I had been with Banesto/Illes Balears for eleven years, and after this much time, I was very accommodated in my mind. So this change of teams is like when I first turned professional; a real motivation.
CN: How did the deal come about?
FM: I had other offers, but this one was no doubt the best on a financial level. As to the sporting aspect, all the offers were pretty much the same - to ride the Tour de France, which is the most important race for me. All the teams are basically the same, so what mattered to me was to be able to take two riders with me: David Navas and José Luis Arieta. That influenced my decision a lot, and as the economic and sporting aspects were all good, that was it. I didn't have to think about it much.