At a gathering in Madrid, which attracted a host of Spanish riders from various points in eastern Spain, the focus was on the upcoming cycling season, including the Tour de France and the route announcement of the La Vuelta. Among those in attendance were Carlos Rodríguez of Ineos, Marc Soler from UAE, Ivan Romeo of Movistar, and Jesús Herrada from Cofidis, along with retired but still active Alejandro Valverde.
Carlos Rodríguez, 22, who has decided to stay with Ineos after speculation about a move to Movistar, expressed his anticipation for the upcoming Tour de France. Following a spectacular debut Tour, finishing fifth overall with a stage victory against riders like Vingegaard and Pogacar, Rodríguez is set to lead his team again. However, his participation in La Vuelta remains uncertain. “First, we have to finish the Tour, go through the season, and then see how the body is for La Vuelta,” he said. Rodríguez, who hails from Almuñécar, showed a keen interest in the route of La Vuelta, particularly as several stages will be in his area. The final time trial in Madrid was a hot topic among the riders, with Rodríguez noting, “It’s something different. It means there will be excitement right up to the end.”
Rodríguez plans to start his season at the Clásica de Jaén on 12 February, aiming to step up his performance. “I hope to take a step further this season, to win and be in the fight. For the time of the season, I feel quite good. It’s hard to know how I’ll perform later, but the important thing is that we are doing our duties well and with a lot of desire,” he added.
Jesús Herrada, a three-time stage winner in La Vuelta (2019, 2022, and 2023), was particularly pleased with the return of Pico Villuercas, where he finished second behind Bardet in 2021. “I like the route. I see several opportunities for breakaways, which is what I’m considering. Now in January, I have to decide with the team whether I’ll do the Tour-Vuelta or just La Vuelta. I need to think about it carefully,” Herrada revealed.
With a combination of experienced and rising stars, the upcoming cycling season promises to be filled with suspense and thrilling performances, as the riders gear up for another year of competitive racing.
Main photo credit: Eduardo Candel Reviejo/DiarioAS