By Antonio J. Salmerón
Spanish National Directeur Sportif Francisco 'Paco' Antequera is keeping his faith in his country's cycling system despite some hard times. During an interview yesterday as part of Sport breakfast, organized by the press agency Europa, he gave his thoughts on the season that has passed and the one that is to come.
"I think the new anti-doping measures are not the solution for cycling," he commented. "Cycling must be like any other sport. It may have more demands, but it is not right that for a simple cold you can take something and produce a positive [control]."
Antequera acknowledged that Spanish cycling is "having some bad times," but noted that, "we won the Tour de France two consecutive years, which is the highest achievement for any cyclist." The Spanish director seemed convinced that "there are good things in cycling, but there are things that have been out of context."
He pointed out the "camaraderie" that exists in his national team. "Spain is achieving its best results in the entire history of the World Championships." Antequera gave his support for Valverde, and pointed out how the circumstances surrounding his rider before the Worlds in Stuttgart affected his performance. "Alejandro was unable to prepare for the Worlds," Antequera revealed.
He is looking ahead to the next Worlds in Varese with the same riders. "There are good riders who like to race Classics. ... after [Oscar] Freire, Alejandro Valverde has demonstrated he can win any race."
Lastly, Antequera acknowledged that "cycling is experiencing some bad moments" and compared the difficulties of this sport to football and basketball. "Cycling is much more difficult, the road is very dangerous and, in addition, we must point out that what has happened to us," he continued, recalling Operación Puerto.