In that constant reinvention that began in the final stretch of last season, the Movistar has reaped new fruits in the Giro d’Italia at the hands of Einer Rubio, which closed a winless four-year team drought. Pablo Lastras (47 years old), team manager in the Italian round, analyzes for AS this growth and the options by Fernando Gaviria in the third week.
—Good presence in the race, a victory… How do you rate the Giro del Movistar so far?
—Apart from the win, I give the boys a 9, they are doing a very good turn. Perhaps we lacked a bit of brilliance in finishing off two breakaways, but with the Einer award I give it a 9. We also have to analyze the whole issue of the crashes we’ve had, which have kept us from contesting exactly three stages at 100 %. So that seems to take away or not give meaning to the great work that we do from management with all the staff we have. The kids are often left saying: ‘all this work and for nothing’. This has its reward, you have to keep going, keep going, keep going. So the rating is very good. We came with the aim of getting a stage victory, it has been achieved, but we want more, we are prepared and the boys are very well.
—With a week still to spare, the fact that the objective has been achieved gives a lot of peace of mind.
—Overall, we are seeing that there are still two escape possibilities plus two sprints, with which there are six stages ahead and we have four opportunities. Let’s aim well.
—After as many falls as he has suffered, how is Gaviria doing to compete in the last sprints?
—He has already recovered and can arrive in optimal conditions for those two days. Physically, he is not 100%, but if we analyze the whole peloton, no one is 100%. The work has already been done, now it is the most moral state, mental strength than anything else and it has a lot of it. It’s incredible how he handles his teammates, how he knows how to move. It’s nice to work with people like that, they only transmit joy.
—And with the casualties of so many sprinters, you will have a better chance of victory.
—Not easy, hard, it will be hard (laughs). We don’t look at our rivals, it doesn’t matter if eight pure sprinters or five were here, we are going to bet on Fernando.
—Einer’s growth has been great and he has confirmed it here. Does it reassure you thinking of him as one of the project leaders?
—Yes, above all that, working with our house brand, after four years with him. It seems that now the boy has shot up, but it is that he cut his progression last year in the Tour of Hungary, where he had a very fat fall on the knee and there he hit a slump. He took a long time to recover and then little by little he started the season very late in the Tour of Langkawi being fourth, that is, he has continued the same. Since he finished the season he has followed the same progression. The Tour of San Juan was very good, Volta a Cataluña maybe he failed a little, we think that he trained too much, we don’t know. Then he returned in the Vuelta a Asturias also very well, the same Giro. If we analyze a bit the whole journey since last year, the boy has the progression we want.
—Will someone else join that future, with Einer and Enric Mas as leaders?
—I imagine that some runner will leave us, very good, others will have finished a cycle here in the team and we with open arms whoever wants to come will be welcome, that’s clear.
—Perhaps some young Spanish runner?
We wait for everyone. Any Spanish? Don’t know.
—The team has reinvented itself since the final stretch of last season, but the gap between the most powerful teams in cycling and the rest is very wide. If it were up to you, what would you do to change this situation?
—Like the ‘financial fair play’, right? It could be there, put some limits, but hey, it’s the law of supply and demand. You can’t compete against that, nothing more, you can’t do anything. I would leave it the same. As is. A budget limit is impossible.
—From your extensive experience as a professional cyclist, what do you think of the modification of the Crans Montana stage?
“The right thing was done.” The right thing was done at a very specific moment, which was at the start. RCS, the UCI and the Cyclists Association finally agreed, they all worked the same, so it was a consensual thing. People should know that extreme weather protocol was requested to be activated. And it was for a specific moment. Safety is gaining in all sports and in cycling we are working to improve safety.
—Could the protocol be improved to make it more objective and less interpretable?
-It was a difficult day because we left a valley, crossed another valley and ended up in another. Imagine in 195 kilometers how the weather can change, the weather, it is what it has. The right thing was done. It’s not that cyclists didn’t want to run, cyclists wanted to run. In the end everything turned out perfect. Not for us, because we won the stage on top of that, but I think that the riders, the UCI and RCS, as the organizer, did the right thing.