Xacobeo-Galicia team director Alvaro Pino has confirmed that he is retiring from his position with the team in order to spend more time with his family. The 54-year-old has been with the Xacobeo team for four seasons after previously working with Kelme and Phonak following an 11-year racing career in which the highlight was victory in the 1986 Vuelta a España.
Pino's final act as a director was to guide Ezequiel Mosquera to second place in this year's recently completed Vuelta. He admitted it was a good way in which to bow out. "I'm really satisfied with how things went. Ezequiel's win on the Bola del Mundo made me really happy because I knew that it was going to be very difficult for him to win the Vuelta overall," Pino told Marca. "Another thing that made me happy was the way in which the fans were enthused by the Vuelta. It's years since I've experienced enthusiasm at that level."
Pino affirmed that he is not likely to change his decision to leave the sport even after his team's recent successes at the Vuelta. Indeed, he revealed that his original plan had been to quit the sport when he parted with Phonak four years ago. "It does pain me to leave because cycling is my life, but I need to be with my family because I have not had a year off since I retired from racing. Being in the sport in the last few years has had an impact on me and I need to find some tranquility," he said.
Looking back on his career as a DS, Pino said his best memory was "Fernando Escartín's victory [in the 1999 Tour de France] at Piau-Engaly, as well as his podium finish at the Tour. Plus, Ezequiel's stage win at the Bola del Mundo and his Vuelta podium. As both personalities and cyclists, Escartín and Mosquera were very similar. I identify with them a great deal. Xacobeo's victory in the team competition at last year's Vuelta is also a good memory."
As for the downsides, Pino recalled the positive drug cases during his time at Phonak and the death of his room-mate Alberto Fernández. "That wasn't in a race, but in a car accident. We were training in the Sierra Nevada and he came up to Madrid to pick up a prize. That was very hard to take. I also saw Fabio Casartelli die, because [Kelme's Hernán] Buenahora was involved in the same crash. But I'm a positive person and I like to focus on the good things and forget about the bad."
Pino was unable to say whether the Xacobeo-Galicia team will continue into next season, but added that he is optimistic it will. As for Mosquera, Pino said that the 35-year-old Spaniard still has at least a couple of good years left him as he prepares to move to Vacansoleil.
"You have to remember that he came to cycling very late. A rider of his age would usually have 10 Tours and several Giros behind him, but he's got lots left to give. I think he can continue to perform at his current level for another two seasons," said Pino.