By Gregor Brown in Joigny
When a Tour de France jersey passes into the hands of a team, there has to be strong support riders to help that jersey holder maintain his lead. For the Quickstep team of Maillot Vert Tom Boonen, one of these men is Carlos Barredo. The 26 year-old Spaniard has been working tirelessly for Quickstep-Innergetic teammates Tom Boonen and Gert Steegmans, putting in strong pulls on the front, some of which paid off with a team one-two when Steegmans led his Belgian compatriot Boonen for a home win in Gent.
Barredo joined the team to learn about riding in the cobble-Classics from the very best, and now finds himself working for the Tour's points leader. "Now I am feeling good with my work for the team," he said to Cyclingnews Wednesday morning. "I think that my work will be more important in the next week with the mountains. Now I am working a little bit but not a lot.
"I will be working for [Juan Manuel] Gárate and I think that he has a chance at a good [general] classification," Barredo continued of his teammate, who won the mountain top finish to Passo di San Pellegrino in the 2006 Giro d'Italia. "For him it is important to have help in the climbs. Right now, I have good condition and I can go with him."
Barredo's teamwork does not go unnoticed. "They always say thanks for my work; they are great guys, and it is always 'Thanks, thanks,'" he noted of his Belgian teammates Steegmans and Boonen.
"Yesterday, Gert crashed with me. [He points down to his right leg to prove that he did crash - ed.] I stopped hard and then Gert hit me hard from behind. 'Bam!' [Laughs. - ed.] Gert is a little too heavy for me. He is strong and with tremendous force. I think that the people never saw the work of [Steven] De Jongh on the stage to Gent. It was incredible what those guys did. De Jongh worked up to the last 190 metres and after it was Gert."
Expect to see the likable Spaniard moving his Gárate to the front on Thursday's stage to Autun when the race takes in eight categorized climbs. For more on Barredo ready Cyclingnews'interview.