The man without fear. David Valero (Baza, 34 years old) plunges headfirst into a new challenge, impossible as it may seem. The difficulty, capital letter. Glory, the greatest possible. This Saturday the Spaniard meets the greatest MTB legend, Nino Schurter, in the Glasgow World Championships, in addition to dealing with multidisciplinary talent: Tom Pidcock (current Olympic champion) and Mathieu van der Poel, He aspires to become the first cyclist in history to win three world gold medals in different disciplines in Scotland in the same year (in 2023 he has the cyclocross and the road rainbow). With a résumé that few have achieved in the past two years (Olympic bronze, win at a World Cup event, silver in the last World Cup, etc.) number one in the UCI ranking in 2022), David has shown he is capable of handling them. Talk to AS before the big day.
—How do you face this new challenge of the World Cup?
“In 2023 it’s the most important event that we have and I think all runners are preparing a little more carefully in view of the World Championships.” In the end it can be a good World Championships where all runners compete. It is the event with the most points at stake and of greater importance, in this case the Paris Olympics in 2024.
“At this point in the season are you achieving what you expected at this great event in Glasgow in terms of your results, confidence and fitness?
—Yes, I think I’ll get there quite well, at a sweet spot. I didn’t get good results, but I’m a bit calmer because I know that next year will be quite a difficult year. Struggling to reach another peak form ahead of the games to decide who goes to Paris.
—What will your roadmap look like in Glasgow in view of the preparations of the past few days?
—Well, I still don’t know the whole schedule and stuff, but we arrived on Tuesday evening (yesterday). First, go to the race track for training on Wednesday. I want to recognize it well, see all lines, all lines and study it as well as possible. And on Friday I will certainly return to the circuit to complete the final inspection and do some more specific training, which I like to do the day before an important meeting.
—How is this racetrack in Glasgow?
We didn’t walk there once. I ran but at the 2018 European Championships which is at the same location. And from what I saw on the video there are a couple of climbs that are pretty challenging. And then there are some areas of descent, quite artificial heights and some natural areas, but I think that’s the least. It is a circuit very similar to those used in the Olympic Games or any important event. We don’t know anything specific because watching it live on video changes the film a lot.
—From what you could see, does the route come to your properties?
—The climbs are tough and the good thing is that they have good distance. Ultimately all cross-country courses these days are more or less similar. In the end, for those of us fighting at the top, it can come at a bit of a disadvantage.
—As for the rivals, the name Van der Poel comes to mind. Will he be the rival to beat in this event?
-I don’t think so. Van der Poel always shows where he’s going, but this year, for example, he’s not the first to come out on top. It has no grid, it has no UCI points and I expect it will come out of the last one. Rivals to beat for me are Nino (Schurter) and Pidcock who doesn’t have a good grid either but hey he’ll start on the fourth row or something. Then there are those who run in the World Cup: Luca Schwarzbauer, Jordan Sarrou, Mathias Flückiger, Joshua Dabau… There are a number of runners that cannot be despised or neglected by any of them, especially considering how balanced that is Level is the last world championships. World. I don’t know how Van der Poel will do, but he always comes out as a favourite. I think it’s because he’s coming from so far up front because he’s very fast and if he can do that it’s because he’s going to win, but that’s going to be a bit difficult.
—If both Van der Poel and Pidcock manage to come back, how can you beat them?
—Before race selection, they have to do a lot more attrition than we do. The way to defeat them is to counterattack when they arrive to prevent them from having time to recover and making a mistake. In the end then the decisions for the race are different, because if there are three or four riders and we think more or less the same thing, you can make a little strategy, but if everyone is looking for a little bit for themselves, the situation will be different be very difficult. As long as the case is not given, it cannot be predicted.
—Considering how well the Tokyo Games went two years ago, is the goal to leave Glasgow with a medal?
-Yes. Last year at the World Championships I was 9 seconds behind Nino and well, in the end the goal is the medal, fighting for the rainbow.
—Apart from you, what else can we expect from the Spanish MTB delegation to these World Cups?
—I think that both Jofre (Cullell) and Pablo (Rodríguez), who are the youngest, will gain experience and learn more about the World Cup and important events. It is important that they are supported, whether they achieve good or bad results, because they are young children who will bring them much joy in the future. And as for Pablo, he’s in the top 20 and if he cleans a race he can be up front and fighting for the top 20 which would be a great result for him and give him a lot of confidence for the rest of the season . And as for Rocío (del Alba), we know that she is suffering from an injury and broke her collarbone a month and a half ago. He’s taking shape, coming back to his level and I think he’s fine. It will once again be a contact with the strong competition that will put them in their place, especially considering the dates we still have in the World Cup.
—What do you have in store for you this year besides the World Championships?
—We have the World Cup in France. Then we take a weekend off and go to Paris to visit Canada’s pre-Olympic circuit for the 2024 games. Then we go straight to America for the last two World Cup events that would be held in Snowshoe (USA). . and in Mont Sante Anne, in Canada, where we will certainly finish this 2023 season.