Juan José Cobo is one of several Spanish riders left without a contract for the 2014 season. After two years with Movistar, team manager Eusebio Unzué didn't offer the 2011 Vuelta winner a new contract.
"I have to be realistic. It was my own fault. I didn't live up to the expectations and therefore understand the decision Movistar made," Cobo told El Diario Montañes.
Cobo has been in the same situation before. Only weeks after his victory in the Vuelta a España where he beat the Team Sky duo Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome, Geox-TMC closed its doors. Cobo had just signed a new and improved deal with the team when Geox announced it would not honour its verbal agreement to continue sponsoring the team.
Movistar signed the Cantabrian rider for two years. His only podium finishes in 2012 and 2013 were in the team time trials with Movistar. Cobo's best individual performance was a tenth place in the national time trial championships in 2012 and eleventh place on stage 11 of this year's Giro d'Italia.
"Last year I did the Tour in service of Valverde and didn't do a good Vuelta [Cobo finished 67th]. This year the Giro d'Italia was my goal. I prepared really well for that but a crash in the first stage ended that ambition. Next to the crisis in cycling and teams disappearing, in my case the lack of results was decisive. I understand why Movistar decided not to renew my contract. I have not been able to pay back the trust they put in me and therefore lost two valuable years of my career."
Cobo is not ready to retire yet. He hopes to find a place for 2014, even with a much smaller team.
"I still feel fine physically. I train about 4 or 5 times a week and I'm now building up towards training every day. I am calm. I love to ride my bike and that is important. Maybe I should take a step back," Cobo said.
"I still have no team but we are talking with a small team to ride for next year in order to come back to a bigger team the year after."
The 32-year old Spaniard won his biggest races, Vuelta in 2011 [with Geox-TMC] and Tour of the Basque Country [with Saunier-Duval] in 2007 with team manager Joxean Matxin. Matxin is now sports director at Lampre-Merida.
"He is more of a friend that a team manager. I know he talked with Lampre-Merida to sign me. But he is now the sports director, not the team manager. I can only say thank you for thinking about me but I have to be realistic too, even more in a team like Lampre-Merida who can have any rider they want."