By Shane Stokes
South Africa’s David George is aiming to build on the strong form he has shown already this season with a successful performance in the Commonwealth Games time trial this afternoon and then in European events from April onwards.
The Tour de Langkawi winner has signed a deal with the Relax-Gam team and will debut with the Spanish Continental Professional squad on the 3rd of April in the Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco [Tour of the Basque Country].
“The deal came about through my friend and coach David Plaza, who I started to work with last year when we were with the Barloworld team,” George told Cyclingnews over the weekend. “He has really taught me how to train and prepare physically for objectives, something which I think we don't think enough about in cycling. Anyway Dave has been working as my manager, and guru, as well; we had talked to Relax before Malaysia but they wanted to have a look there. And that went OK! Also, they have secured the team’s participation in the Vuelta and were looking for a rider with my capabilities to strengthen the squad.”
George competed with the Barloworld team for the past two seasons but was left without a contract for 2006. The 30 year old bounced back by winning the 2.HC Tour de Langkawi in February and then finished second in the Giro del Capo just over a week ago.
“In hindsight all has worked out ok,” he said, speaking about his time of uncertainty. “I have a few victories under the belt and a job at a team where I will have a fair amount of responsibility, possibly even at a Grand Tour. I will be based out of Madrid and will hopefully have the opportunity to target the rest of my season around the Vuelta España. Having had a good period now, it would make the most sense to have my [next big] objectives a bit later in the season, so that works perfect for me. It will also give me some time to adapt to my new team.”
Before then, George will try to medal against the clock on Tuesday. Although he was out of the placings in the time trial at the Tour de Langkawi, he won the TT in the Giro del Capo and should be one of those gunning for the top spot of the podium.
“I had set out the first few objectives for the start of the season which were, Malaysia, Giro del Capo and Commonwealth Games. I really wanted to stay with those and not try to change too much. The Games are not really that big in the general world of cycling but in South Africa, as in the UK and Australia, they are pretty important. So I was happy to have the opportunity to come back and represent SA here in Melbourne.”