Oscar Pereiro, tenth in 2004, tenth in 2005, and now perhaps the winner of the biggest race in cycling? He's still waiting for the USADA vs. Floyd Landis hearing which will determine if that will be the case, but it's one of the two possible outcomes to the saga which has shaken the sport. Cyclingnews' Shane Stokes sat down with the Spaniard at the pre-season training camp in Mallorca and talked about this and many other topics.
Pereiro was a strong rider in the seasons prior to 2006, but outside the sport of cycling and his home area of Galicia, he wasn't a particularly famous person. That all changed in July, for three reasons. The first was due to his taking yellow, the maillot jaune catapulting him into the public eye worldwide. The second was due to the stubborn and courageous fight he put up to keep the golden fleece. And the third was the fact that he's next in line if Landis is disqualified, becoming the first Spanish winner since Miguel Indurain in 1995.
These three factors have changed his life. "It is different... I have become very well known. I cannot walk down the street without being recognised," he said. "Every two or three days there is more news about the Tour. For example, today Landis speaks, blah blah blah. There is too much stress."
Before the start of the Vuelta a España, he said that he hadn't been able to train much after the Tour due to the demands on his time. He spoke then about being unable to live a normal life but, despite this, he does see the benefits of fame too. "I like being well known. It is nice when people respect you, but is also good when you're not disturbed too much."
When Cyclingnews asked him how things had been since the end of the season, he said he was quite satisfied. "It was a very stressful winter because of everything that was going on. But I was also training well; I am in good shape and made a lot of social sacrifices. Now I am concentrating on the start of the season.
"My condition is not 100%, but it is better than last year. That winter, I worked too much in the gymnasium. I am happy this year with my condition."