Former WorldTour rider Óscar Pujol is running out of time to secure a professional contract for 2013 but that hasn't dampened the drive of the 29-year-old. The Spaniard has spent the 2012 season with the Iranian Azad Univesity team but has had limited race days to show himself. In an attempt to gain some late season results Pujol will travel halfway across the world to compete in the three-day UCI 2.2 Banyuwangi Tour de Ijen, Indonesia just hours after finishing a local cyclo-cross race.
The race which runs from 7-9 December may suit the talented climber who most recently won the seven-stage Tour de Singkarak. Stage 2 in Ijen will be the decisive day with the near 2,000m high volcano-top finish set to decide the order of the general classification. The peloton will have to tackle a 21km volcano climb with an average of over 6% before reaching the finish at Ijen crater.
"I have seen that one stage ends on a 30kms [21km] hill on a volcano. If everything goes well I have big chances to win the stage and/or the leader jersey," said Pujol who was invited to race just a week before flying out.
"It is not easy when you are contacted under a short delay during the Spanish winter time. Apart of that I have not had the possibility to train on the hills as they are snowed, I am not 100% at all," he said."
Pujol believes he may be lacking some fitness but says he hasn't been able to afford to take anytime off the bike. If he wants to secure a contract with a professional team for next season, he must win the tour outright. He'll be supported by the local Polygon team, which has numerous wins in UCI tours throughout Indonesia. When the climb to Ijen crater begins however, Pujol will need to prove he still has what it takes.
"I must win, I am forced by my current situation," said Pujol.
"I have no doubts. If I am mentally prepared, as I know I am, I will have to vindicate myself every single time, no matter in which time of the season. No breaks, I cannot allow myself to stop," he added.