Francisco “Paco” Mancebo is quietly preparing for second successful season with the US-based Competitive Cyclist team, formerly named Realcyclist.com, with a focus toward bettering his 2011 NRC results.
The Spanish climber’s palmares now boasts an upgrade to third place in the 2005 Tour De France, due to the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s recent ruling finding past Tour de France champion Jan Ullrich guilty of doping offences related to the 2006 Operación Puerto investigation, terminating all of his results back to May 2005.
“That race was seven years ago, and it’s in the past, something I don’t care about anymore. My future is with this team, with Competitive Cyclist and I want to do the best I can with them,” Mancebo said.
Mancebo was himself implicated in Operación Puerto and was pulled from that year’s Tour de France on the eve of the race. Contrary to reports circulating at the time, Mancebo denies that he ever retired after news of the affair broke.”
“I never retired. Some journalists said I did, but that never happened,” The 2004 Spanish National Champion told Cyclingnews. “I changed my focus.”
After spells at teams including Relax-GAM and Rock Racing, at this point in the 35-year-old’s career, racing in the US is what keeps him motivated.
“It’s a different experience,” he said when asked about how the US racing scene stacks up to his past experiences in Europe. “I feel good here and I like it here.”
Mancebo, who will once more act as team captain and leader, has saddled up seven times for the Tour de France, five times placing in the top 10 overall. The stage race specialist told Cyclingnews during his team’s training camp that not only is he looking to better his results from last year with expanded race opportunities, he wants to become a stronger mentor to the younger talent on the team.
“The young riders look for guidance. For me, it’s easy to help them with everything I know.”
The team’s directeur sportif Gord Fraser agreed. He said Mancebo’s leadership has been an integral part of Competitive Cyclist’s success, and he will be looking forward to more of the same from Mancebo in the coming months.
Last year, Mancebo carried Competitive Cyclist, then Realcyclist.com, to fifth overall in the 2011 NRC team standings, at the same time dominating the men’s individual standings.
“I hope more than anything to get an invitation to the Tour of California,” he said. “All the big stage races are important to me.”