One step at a time - Dueñas dreams of big Tour

An interview with Moisés Dueñas Nevado, August 25, 2007

Moises Dueñas is enjoying his first Regio Tour quite a bit - he leads the competition after three stages, but faces strong competition from former time trial World Champion Michael Rogers. The Spaniard from Salamanca is determined to hold onto his leader's jersey in the time trial, hoping the hills will give him an advantage. Cyclingnews' Bjorn Haake caught up with him a day before the race of truth.

26 year-old Moisés Dueñas has had a successful run as of late. After completing his second Tour de France in 39th place, he finished the Vuelta a Burgos in his home country in sixth place. He then went on to win stage two of the Regio Tour and the overall lead - opening up a 61 second advantage over Rogers with his solo breakaway. As he heads into the stage four time trial, there are plenty of people doubting that he can hold his lead against time trial specialists like Mikhail Ignatiev and Rogers.

But if his performance in the 15 kilometre Burgos time trial, where he took ninth just 50 seconds behind Alejandro Valverde is any indication, he just might have a shot at taking yellow home from Germany. Certainly, Dueñas himself is confident that he can hold on.

"I hope that I can defend the maillot jaune after the time trial," he said after stage three. "I am a climber," Dueñas explained, and he thinks this will be to his advantage in the 26 kilometre test. Unlike the rather flat race against the clock in Burgos, the time trial course of stage four in the Regio Tour is rather hilly and looks more like a mountain time trial at times.

The first climb comes early in the course, and reaches up to 12 percent. After that, the course has a series of ups and downs with a longer hill thrown in for good measure before the road finally tilts downward for good in the last five or six kilometres. The Regio Tour race leader hasn't seen the course yet, but said, "tomorrow morning before the stage I will ride it."

If Dueñas maintains his lead after the time trial, he still faces a very tough final stage - something that will put his Agritubel squad under pressure. Every stage of the race except the first has been hilly, and on stage three, the team suffered, and at one point Moisés had only two team-mates left.

In the end it all worked out for the day and even though Adrian Palomares Villaplana (Fuerteventura) moved up to second and is now only 42 seconds behind the Agritubel captain, the Spaniard was not too worried about that. He thinks there are three favourites left for the time trial, which, even if it does not decide the race, is likely to eliminate a few more people from the general classification. "I think Michael Rogers and Beat Zberg will be strong rivals," the Salamanca-native made clear that he is aware of the big competitors for the time trial and overall wins.

The 26 year-old admitted he liked the taste of the Rothaus beer which is awarded to the stage winner, and he would like to have another sip on the podium before the race is over. His stage two victory came after he attacked the large breakaway "about two kilometres from the top [of the Blauen -ed.]." The Blauen was the last obstacle of the day, less than 40 kilometres from the finish, and at over 1,000 metres high it was not just a simple hill, although the grade is fairly gentle.

The Spaniard took off and knew "that there were still the remnants of the front group ahead." He caught the last of the escapees after the top, and, knowing the others were tired, he "just went flat out for the remainder, pretty much just doing a time trial." From his attack a couple of kilometres from the summit to the finish, he pretty much "rode everything by myself," showing that a time trial doesn't scare him one bit, no matter if it's flat or hilly.

Staying in the same hotel for the week is of course popular with the riders, but even the team behind the team enjoyed it. The two mechanics, who were frantically finishing up their 12-hour day as the clock was crawling towards eight in the evening, had been racking up the miles, going from Burgos to Poitiers, where the team's headquarters is located, on to Germany. On Sunday, after the final stage, they will drive back to Poitiers. Agritubel was staying for the week in the Hotel Krone (Krone means crown) and Dueñas is certainly hoping he will be crowned champion on Sunday on the traditional tough finishing circuit over the "Texas Pass," which is located close to Agritubel's temporary domicile in Vogtsburg.

For Dueñas it is also very clear what he is doing after the Regio Tour. "I will rest. I am tired." Then it is time to think about the future. "My contract with Agritubel expires at the end of the season." He wouldn't mind signing with them again. "The team is great. They worked really hard for me today [in stage three -ed.]"

As for the race program he decided for himself, but got some ideas from his management. The Spaniard was asked after the Tour de France if he wanted to race the Vuelta a Burgos and the Regio Tour. That sounded good to him and now he is hoping to taste more of that Rothaus beer in the remaining stages through Sunday.

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