By Monika Prell
Francisco Mancebo, one of the important signings of Spanish team Relax-GAM, feels "like an amateur that turns professional. After a very difficult year I'm feeling again like a cyclist. I'm very happy in this team." Mancebo confirmed to newspaper Marca that he "had more offers, but here I'm better than anywhere else. I'm beginning a new chapter, I'm happy."
The former Ag2r rider is willing to make a qualitative leap and his objectives are "la Vuelta a España, where I will try to fight for overall, but I also would like to win the Spanish championship, or the Vuelta a Cataluña and other stage races." The first pedal strokes in that direction have been made in Argentina, at the Vuelta a San Luis, where he finished third on General Classification and also first in the Team Classification.
Mancebo, who was linked to Spanish doping scandal Operacion Puerto but cleared by his federation, is not afraid of encountering problems with other riders at the races. "I'm sure that in the races the others will respect me. I see that the fans are still behind me and I don't expect any problems," he said. Nevertheless, he complained about the way the suspects of the affair were treated by the ProTour teams, "like lepers" in his opinion. Mancebo added that "directors have mistreated the cyclists and have influenced the ProTour teams."