2006 Tour de France winner Oscar Pereiro has revealed that he has had “contacts” with the Xacobeo-Galicia team with a view to ending his racing career with them in either 2010 or 2011. Speaking to the El Faro de Vigo newspaper in his home region of Galicia, the 32-year-old Caisse d’Epargne rider also said that the mental and physical problems that led to his unexpected and premature retirement from the Tour de France in July are now behind him.
Pereiro admitted that there was some truth to recent stories suggesting that the main difficulty in reaching an agreement with Xacobeo would be economic. “I never said that I wasn’t interested [in joining Xacobeo]. On occasions you may have heard or read that a deal is not viable economically, but this would not be the problem,” said the Spaniard. “I know that I’ve got very few years of my career left – I don’t know whether it’s one or if it’s two – but it would be a real pleasure for me as a Galician to finish my career in a team from this region. In reality, what I always say is that I am expensive but you never know, I might want to ride for nothing next year. The only thing that I want is to enjoy life.”
Having said he is ready to ride for nothing, Pereiro then went on to suggest he would want some money no matter who he rides for next season. “I am ready to lower my asking price, I’m going to have to do this wherever I ride. But if I’m going to be riding for a ‘home’ team it would be much easier to reach an agreement.”
As well as Xacobeo, Liquigas are among the foreign teams reported to be interested in signing the Spaniard. Any team signing Pereiro, though, is sure to want assurances that the psychological issues that resulted in him pulling out of the Tour are now well behind him. He insists they are.
“My problem was more mental than physical. I did have some physical problems but not riding the Vuelta after that was down to stubbornness more than anything. I wanted to get away from things, to be free until the end of the year and from then on to get on with doing things that I want to do,” he stated.
Pereiro added that as he had known most of the riders and staff on the Xacobeo team “for 15 to 20 years” he would have no problem fitting in there. He also acknowledged that his presence on the roster would boost their chance of securing a Tour de France slot. He concluded by saying his future would be decided “in 15 or 20 days”.
Peter Cossins has written about professional cycling since 1993 and is a contributing editor to Procycling. He is the author of The Monuments: The Grit and the Glory of Cycling's Greatest One-Day Races (Bloomsbury, March 2014) and has translated Christophe Bassons' autobiography, A Clean Break (Bloomsbury, July 2014).
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