There has been an interview with Mikel Astarloza in Gara about the Tour Down Under, and of course I will try to translate it.
What are your plans for the Tour Down Under ?
The team has the desire to do it well because it's the first race of the season. But i'm going to do it easy, especially with the Tour of the Basque Country in my head. That's the most important race for me and the team in the first part of the season. But the most important thing is to train here.
Who are the leaders of the team here ?
Especially Velasco, Galdos and Bru because they trained for the first part of the season. Let's hope they will do it good because that's really important for the team spirit.
You're the only one who has already competed Down Under ?
Yes, I already rode it four times, this is my fifth. I will try to tell the secrets to my fellow companions.
Which are the characteristics of the Tour Down Under ?
It's very exotic, you're in Australia and it's summer. You leave home in the cold and when you arrive it's really hot, almost forty degrees. You have to try to stay in the shadow as much as possible. The race itselfs doesn't have a lot of secrets, the stages are rather short, 140km, so it's an ideal place to start the season. Clearing the stage is the most important thing for the general rank.
Is it special to return to the race where you've got your only professional victory ?
Yes it's very special and I'm very happy to ride here. I have some great memories about this race.
You also got the victory with Simon Gerrans.
Yes, AG2R always did great here. We won in four of the eight years. Me on time, then Gerrans, Elmiger and Maignan.