There is an interview with Markel Irizar in Spanish on the Euskaltel site, so I thought it would be interesting to translate it into English.
-How did you get into cycling ?
My father was a big fan of cycling. I began to go to races and I really liked it, one day I said I wanted to dedicate myself completely to cycling so I started on my 14th in the team of Oñate. I immediately took it serious, I did a lot of effort and now i'm here.
- What do you like about this sport ?
The fact that you are able to fulfil a dream and earn enough money to live from it. It's also fun to take part in races with people you have seen in magazines or on television. If you work hard and with some luck you get some good results, you will see the results of that very quick. Still I didn't get that much luck, I hope someday I will.
- You overcame cancer in 2002, how do you feel about that now ?
It's already five years ago and by most people it's almost forgotten but cancer cannot be forgotten by yourself, it marks your life. When I'm cycling, I want to prove that I can do the same as someone that didn't have had cancer, this has blocked me several times. I was obsessed with showing that cancer didn't make me different. I try to forget all that stuff now and I hope things will go better.
- So you're a very strong person ?
Yeah I am, cancer is a word that always will be associated with death, but I had a lot of support from friends and family and I always will have. I learned wich people really love me and that was a valuable lesson.
- Lance Armstrong wrote a letter to you
Yeah I don't know how it happened but I got a supporting letter from him and I send him a card back with : Thanx for the support, it really means much. When I became ill, a friend of mine was the secretary of the doctor from Lance and she told him about me. Later in the Criterium International, I got the chance to meet him because he wanted to know me. So I went to his bus and he was very nice and he was happy that I had overcome the disease.
- This year you participated in the Giro and we saw you in a few escapes
The days I was in the escapes, where actually my bad days because I didn't feel good then. But the thruth is that I wanted to escape even more, but I did what I could.
- Where is Markel Irizar in his life at the moment ?
The last years I improved enough but I am at a good level now. At the Criterium International I saw myself more ahead already and in Flandres I was in the main squad and in the Giro my crono's were decent. But the most important thing is experience !