By Antonio J. Salmerón
Alvaro Pino, directeur sportif at the Spanish Professional Continental team Xacobeo Galicia, has hopes to race the Tour de France. Pino didn't want to make too much out of the fact the team got invited to the Tour de France presentation, but still has hopes that Xacobeo may be one of the few minor teams invited.
"The invitation by the organisers I interpret solely as a gesture of courtesy. But each year they invite teams that deserve it based on their sportive merits, their ethical [behaviour] and with that in mind I think we clearly enter the pool of selectable teams."
Pino even already drew up a scenario in case the team would get selected. "We would plan our race calendar to make these riders the backbone: Ezequiel [Mosquera], David García, [Gustavo] Veloso, [David] Herrero, [Carlos] Castaño..."
The team has currently no plans to extend on its 18 riders, a number the team has held steady for the last two years. But Pino indicated this would likely change if an invitation to a Grand Tour comes up. "In that case, we will go to 20 riders."
Besides the Tour, Pino was very optimistic to take out a spot in the Giro d'Italia. "I spoke with the organisers, and they are interested in a Spanish team, which in principle should be ours."
The Tour route
Pino has already thoroughly studied the Tour route. "Next year, the route will be different, because the team time trial is back and the mountains are distributed in a distinct way, with that very demanding penultimate stage up the Ventoux. This changes things a bit. If before the race was decided in the final time trial, this time it will be in the mountains."
Pino doesn't have much to complain regarding the riders he has under contract. Asked who he would like to sign, Pino answered confidently. "Contador, Sastre and Mosquera – and the latter we already have."
Pino is happy with his outfit, but wasn't interested making a prediction about the 2009 revelation of the team. "I don't like to individualise things. I have confidence in the new riders and any of those have the quality to become the revelation of the [next] season. But in general, I think any of the riders – older or younger – have some margin for improvement, as they have already shown this season."
Pino was certainly happy that he could bank on a rider like Mosquera, who will give them a better shot at Grand Tours. "Without a doubt, we have riders for the future, but we have to give them time. Among others, those could be [Gonzalo] Rabuñal, Mourón [Doldán], Delio [Fernández Cruz] or Serafín [Martínez Acevedo]."
Pino called all races of 2009 important, but admitted one race stood out. "The Vuelta a España is our priority, and the same for the Giro and the Tour, in case we get invited. Other races, like the País Vasco or Cataluña, we will also tackle with our minds on the task at hand."