By Bjorn Haake in Paris
Bingen Fernandez is the only Spanish rider on the French Cofidis team, but he feels very well acquainted with France and his predominantly French teammates. Fernandez is heading into his eighth season with Cofidis.
"It feels normal for me. This is my team, and I would like to end my career here." Fernandez added that he is content in France, amused by the question he sometimes gets posed. "People ask me 'Don't you want to end your career in Spain?'" He answers this question firmly. "No. I feel really good here and I would like this to be my last team."
Fernandez still has some connections home, as he lives in the Basque Country. It is an area he thoroughly enjoys for training. "I am close to the mythical mountains, such as the Tourmalet, the Peyresourde. I like going on long rides where I can climb at my own pace." Fernandez lives a short drive from the best places to ride and sometimes spends a weekend in the Pyrenees to get his climbing in.
Fernandez has spent the winter training well but admitted he had to flee his hometown due to the weather. "I was in southeastern Spain, in Alicante. It was cold, sometimes seven or eight degrees centigrade, but dry." Fernandez was happy he could see the sun every day, something that is not a given in northern Spain.
He doesn't mind taking the extra effort to travel a few hundred kilometers and spending time in a hotel. "You can get the long rides in that way." His time in Alicante was interrupted for a trip home for the holidays, adding with a smile that his mother would not be too happy if he hadn't joined them for Christmas.
After the Cofidis camp, which runs until January 16 in southern France, Fernandez will head back to the Basque Country. "But if the weather isn't great, I'll jump in the car and go back down to Alicante." He admitted that chances for good weather aren't great as it rains a lot in the Basque region. "I would like to stay at home a bit, but if it doesn't work out I will have to go find the sun..."
Fernandez is one of the rare breed of Spaniards who race the northern Classics (Amstel Gold, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège are on his program this year). He will start out in Mallorca, hope for a good Paris-Nice and then do his home race, the Vuelta Ciclista al País Vasco. "It is true, there the weather is often bad, too. But if you are from the Basque Country, you have to race it..."
Fernandez is a valuable team helper, but has a dream for himself. "I hope to be in a break and maybe I can win one of the smaller races."