By Shane Stokes
Liquigas' giant Swede Magnus Backstedt has two aims at the Vuelta a Espana. The first is a stage win, something which would make up for disappointments earlier this season. And the second is to build form for a possible repeat attempt at the world motor-paced hour record this November. He discussed both these goals at the stage three start in Córdoba on Monday.
"I am feeling good thus far, I felt strong yesterday. I had a little bit of cramping coming in close to the finish but I suffer physically in the heat the first day or two before I get used to it. But I am feeling strong and I am hoping to catch a stage at some point."
Backstedt said that it was equally likely that he would chase a victory in a bunch sprint and in a breakaway. "Anything goes for me, I am not fussy like that," he said. "We will just see how it goes, but the sprinting is definitely a possibility... We did intermediate sprints yesterday and if I can beat Hushovd in that kind of sprint, I am sure that I can beat him at the finish, which is nice. I just have to pick the right stage for me and hope that things go smoothly."
Looking further ahead, he has a set plan in mind. This doesn't include the world road race championships, which are probably on a course that would be too hilly for his liking. "I will race to the finish in Madrid and then that is the end of the [road] season for me. I will take it very easy for a couple of weeks and then I will be doing a couple of six days and a few world cups on the track.
"After that, I will probably go for the hour record again. If we get the sponsors then I can go for the record, probably sometime in mid to late November. It depends on getting the backing together."
Last time round Backstedt was confident of surpassing the 66.114 kilometre paced hour record set by Dutch rider Matthé Pronk in November of 2004. However things didn't go to plan on the day, the Wales-based rider saying afterwards that the Derny rider didn't get the pacing right, missing out on the required balance between straight line velocity and speed around the bends. He will make a switch as a result.
"I will definitely be changing the pacer this time," he told Cyclingnews. "The guy last year was experienced but he let the pressure get to him, I think. It is one thing doing it in training when you have got three people there, but when you have got 1500 people shouting at you, it is completely different. I have nothing against him, it can happen to the best of us…the pressure gets to you. I think I will have to look around, to shop around a bit more and see who I can find."
Backstedt had been confident heading into his October 29th record bid. "Beforehand, I was going well… For example, I did 73 kilometres per hour for 40 minutes in the buildup. As a result, I walked in thinking that I was certain to get the record, that it was just a case of by how much. But it just goes to show that with the sport we do, things can go wrong on the day. Everything has to go according to plan.