Last week’s Vuelta a Castilla y León marked Francesco Mancebo’s first competition in Spain, national championships aside, since the 2010 Circuito de l'Empordá; furthermore, it was disputed on the roads of the region where Mancebo comes from and currently lives.
Having tasted success with second overall in the race, the controversial rider talked to Cyclingnews about his desire to return to the European peloton. The 37-year-old currently rides for the US team 5 Hour Energy p/b Kenda.
“It's been a great feeling, that of racing through the places where I grew up. Here I won a time trial as an amateur; there I finished second when I was a junior,” he told Cyclingnews
“I wanted to win here, but Movistar did a great tactic in the final climb. They had several cards to play. When Ruben Plaza attacked, I doubted for some seconds as I expected Javi Moreno to be the leader of the team. When I realized that Plaza was going for the win and I undertook the chase, it was too late,” he said. “I'm happy for him, though. We are good friends since when we were teammates in Banesto, and he's been through a lot of injuries recently, so it's great to see him back in the podium.”
Would “love” to return to Europe
“Every time I race in Europe, I tell myself: 'I'm here, I want everyone to notice my presence,'” Mancebo said. Although he claims to be happy riding for 5-Hours Energy – Kenda, the Spaniard didn’t hide his desire to come back to racing in Europe. “Of course, I would like to be nearer my home. Even if I spend most of the time in Europe, I have to live in America for, like, four or five months a year. I would love to stay with my family the whole year.”
But coming back won’t easy for Mancebo. He was implicated in the Operación Puerto, even if never sanctioned nor called to testify in the recent trial. He retired in the wake of Puerto before returning to the sport within months. He has spent the majority of his career in the US ever since.
“I've never been approached by the authorities other than in the first steps of the process. After that, I was cleared out of it and the UCI said I was able to race. But, regretfully, I am one of those riders who have been more singled out and discredited than others.”
It's because of these facts that Mancebo thinks that he doesn't get “decent” offers from Europe. “Yeah, I've received proposals from some teams; but always of the Continental field, without much money, or with a poor schedule. In the other hand, I like the American calendar, the way the racing is there. I enjoy the circuits and always have opportunities to shine and be in the fight for victory. And I have a very good team, too, so I can hardly ask for anything more in the USA.”
When asked about the Armstrong case conducted by the USADA, which ended in December with the confession of the American and the withdrawal of his seven Tour de France wins, Mancebo gave a “no comment.” He was a top10 finisher in five of the seven Tours initially won by Armstrong.