The official lineup of the Astana team for the Tour de France is yet to be released, but 2006 winner Oscar Pereiro said this week that he expected to be part of the selection for the race.
“Normally, yes,” he replied when asked by Cyclingnews if he would be riding the event. “My level is fine. There is a very good race here [at the Tour de Suisse], the level of the riders is better this year and it is fast all day. What’s clear is that for me and the riders who will go to the Tour de France, being here is good work for the Tour.”
The 32-year-old Spaniard moved from Caisse d’Epargne to the Astana team of Tour champion Alberto Contador last winter. Having considered retirement he finally decided to continue as a professional rider. He said that the change has been good for him, and that he feels at home with the new team.
“I’m very happy,” he stated, with genuine enthusiasm. “I needed more motivation, I changed my life a bit and now this has been a very happy year for me.”
Pereiro said over the winter that he had trained harder than he had done in years. He hasn’t taken any stellar results in 2010 however, with his form best described as solid rather than spectacular; it includes 71st overall in the Tour Down Under and 95th in Paris-Nice, followed by a more encouraging 19th overall in the Volta a Catalunya plus 13th and 17th on stages of the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon.
He was riding for Contador in some of those races however, and sits 58th overall heading into today’s penultimate stage of the Tour de Suisse.
Pereiro expects to get the nod when the final line-up for the Tour is announced, having won the race four years ago after Floyd Landis was disqualified. He has also taken a stage and finished tenth overall on three occasions. The pressure of being a team leader is something that doesn’t suit him but he is fully committed to the idea of riding in support of Contador. He is convinced his compatriot is set for a great race.
“For me, Alberto for me is an incredible man,” he said. “I don’t see another rider work the same as Alberto. It is incredible. In his head, he is only thinking about being the winner of the Tour. He is really good.”