Xavier Tondo said that he has realised a childhood dream in signing for Movistar, the direct descendant of the legendary Reynolds and Banesto squads of Pedro Delgado and Miguel Indurain.
“I never imagined that I would have the privilege of riding for Eusebio Unzúe’s team,” Tondo told Marca. “It’s been my dream since I was a child.”
The outfit’s lengthy run in the professional peloton was in severe doubt until August, when Movistar stepped in to replace Caisse d’Epargne as team sponsor. Two weeks later, Tondo’s Cervélo TestTeam revealed that it would cease at the end of the season. The Spaniard announced his switch to Movistar during the Vuelta a España.
The Vuelta turned out to be the highlight of a fine season for Tondo. He broke his collarbone in the build-up to the Spanish race but recovered to finish sixth overall in Madrid
“Three weeks before the Vuelta, I fractured my clavicle but thanks to riding on the rollers, high hopes and a lot of suffering, I was able to get there in good form, and in the end, finish sixth,” Tondo explained.
His strong showing in the final week of the race, and in particular, the penultimate stage to Bola del Mundo, has instilled a new confidence in the 32-year-old ahead of his new beginning at Movistar.
“Fifth place on the Bola del Mundo stage has shown me that I can manage a three-week race,” Tondo said. “This gives me great confidence for the future because my goal for 2011 will be to improve on my great sixth place from this year’s Vuelta.”
As well as his gritty display in his home tour, Tondo tasted victory on two occasions in 2010, with stage wins at the Volta a Catalunya and Paris-Nice. However, an equally indelible memory of his year with Cervélo is the hardship he endured before climbing off at the Giro d’Italia.
“I got sick and lost a great opportunity to be in the top 10,” Tondo said. “I was third overall but that I caught a cold, which eventually developed into the flu. The day of the Zoncolan stage I had a fever and I lost 25 minutes.
“Those days were horrible; it was a real penance up until that stage to the Tonale, when I had to abandon. It really annoys me to have to abandon a race, but there was no alternative. I couldn’t do any more, it was an ordeal.”
On Sunday, Tondo took victory at the Ciutat de L’Hospitalet criterium, but his thoughts are already turning to next season. Last week, he had his first official gathering with his new team in Madrid. While the leadership of the Movistar team at the Grand Tours has yet to be decided, Tondo did admit that he had already spoken with Unzúe on his aims for the coming year.
“It was just a first contact with the new team to plan the season and to get measured for the bikes and clothing,” Tondo said. “But next year, I’ll be hoping to do one or two of the big stage races.”
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