By Bjorn Haake in Madrid
Alvaro Pino, the directeur sportif for the Xacobeo Galicia team, had a happy summary of the 63rd Vuelta a España. His captain, Ezequiel Mosquera, finished fourth in the end. The sponsor also looks to be staying on for another two years.
Pino summed up the race for the Spanish squad that started as an underdog. "We are very happy to finish fourth and win a stage. We also finished fifth in the teams classification with that we are tremendously satisfied."
There was a bit of sadness, too. "We couldn't win the podium, we knew it would be very difficult. Our adversaries [in the fight for the podium] were very strong, especially Carlos Sastre."
Mosquera's fourth place was no surprise to Pino. "We knew he could potentially get this result. Last year he was fifth. But we knew it would very difficult this year. We started out saying we wanted to try to better the result from last year. With Valverde, Contador, Sastre, Leipheimer we knew it would be very, very difficult."
Pino kept one picture in his mind form this Vuelta that stood out. "For me it was Contador. He was the strongest and always above everyone else." He added that his adversaries like Valverde, Sastre and his own Mosquera had good moments. But Contador was the most consistent. The performance of Levi Leipheimer also did not go unnoticed with Pino. "Yesterday he won the mountain time trial. He was always restricted to second fiddle since they had Contador. But he is very strong and in the time trial he had quite a time gap."
For the team, things are looking much better than earlier in the year, where sponsor Karpin had to back out due to financial problems. But Xacobeo looks to continue for the squad from Galicia. "One year is certain, but it is possible they will extend for two years. Tuesday or Wednesday it might possibly be decided that we will continue until the end of 2010. In difficult times for cycling these are good news."