By Jean-François Quénet in Marmaris, Turkey
Juan José Cobo was prevented from defending his Vuelta al País Vasco victory in 2007 at last week's race as he was suffering from the flu, but the Spaniard hasn't lost any of his motivation to finish in the top 10 at July's Tour de France. Cobo has chosen to re-start his preparations with the Tour of Turkey.
Cobo's fitness wasn't good enough to enable him to stay with eventual Stage 3 winner Matteo Priamo (CSF Group Navigare) and his compatriot David Garcia (Karpin-Galicia), who became the new race leader, in the break on day three. The Spaniard was however involved in the decisive breakaway until the second King of the Mountain climb located 49 kilometres from the finish, confirming the optimism he held on the start line in Marmaris.
"I'm finding the good rhythm again," Cobo said. "I'm feeling good for the second part of the season that will take me to the Tour de France. I was victim of the cold at the beginning of Paris-Nice. I felt some pain in my left knee and I had to stop riding for one week because of the flu.
"I suffered a lot during the Vuelta Castilla and Leon although I rode until the last day," he added. "That's why my directeur sportif Matxin and I decided to skip the Tour of the Basque country and replace it on my calendar with the Tour of Turkey."
Cobo won three stages and the overall classification at the Tour of the Basque country last year. It was heart-breaking for him to miss a race he enjoys so much, but the rider seems to be enjoying his replacement trip to Turkey. "My new plan will include the Tour of Asturias, the Tour of Catalunya and the Dauphiné Libéré," he explained. "I want to get a result before the Tour de France but the only goal I have really is the Tour de France itself. In principle, I'll be the captain of Saunier Duval for the Tour. I finished 20th last year for my first attempt and I've set the top 10 as my goal for this year.
"For me, the Tour de France isn't only the biggest race in the world, it's also the best for my characteristics because it goes regularly," he added. "I also like the absence of a prologue this year. I'm excited to do well in July."