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Aitor Gonzalez: What a Difference a Race Makes
 
By Manny Samaniego
Date: 12/31/2002
Aitor Gonzalez: What a Difference a Race Makes
 

Speaking to Benito Urraburu of Diario Vasco, Aitor Gonzalez, the winner of the Vuelta a Espaņa, has seen how in less than a month, how the Vuelta has made an abrupt change in his life. He has been in Gipuzkoa, visiting his family, but he hasn't had much time to attend other commitments. Accompanied by his girlfriend, Maria Jose, Aitor measures his future, day by day.

Benito Urraburu: Has your life changed since you won the Vuelta a Espaņa?

Aitor Gonzalez: At least, I have had an important change at the sporting level. In my new team, Fassa, I'm valued as a leader and they expect me to act like a leader in the three week races. The responsibility is bigger.

B.U.: Winning the Vuelta, finishing sixth at the Giro, how do you see it?

A.G.: There are steps you go up, especially at a mental level more than physically. Between the winner and sixth place at the Vuelta or Giro there's not a great physical difference. The difference is at the mental level, being more confident.

B.U.: How much did it take to win a big one?

A.G.: It has cost me a lot to get where I wanted. It can be said that it cost me. I'm from the generation of Mancebo, Eladio Jimenez, Sevilla, Lastras. They started to shine right away. When you move to the pros, and you are going well, everyone sees you better, it seems like everything is easier. It cost me to get out of anonymity.

B.U.: Has it been bad at some points?

A.G.: At Kelme, there were doubts if they were going to renew me or not. Two years ago I was very close to being on the street, with three months until the end of the year. I would have been in the same bag as those without hope. The results started to come and I could continue. Where would I be if they would have fired me?

B.U.: You answer me?

A.G.: I know where I would be. Working somewhere, I couldn't live off of air. I go day to day with everything, with life, with cycling. As the problems come, I solve them.

B.U.: Have you set any goals in your career?

A.G.: You set your goals, but on the road you stumble until you reach it. I resolve them as they come. At the Vuelta you asked me if I knew the top finishes (mountain top) - why did I want to know them? When they arrive, you have to climb them. Why would I suffer beforehand?

B.U.: Your first big moment of the year, at the Giro, coincided with the financial troubles of your team, three months without wages. How did you take that?

A.G.: How would you take being three months without wages, and make it to the end of the month? You have to do some calculations, deprive yourself from certain things you like. It was worst for the staff than for the riders, people with kids. For some riders it was worse than others.

B.U.: Have you been paid everything at Kelme?

A.G.: December is left, but it hasn't ended yet.

B.U.: Winning the Vuelta has only yielded a great contract?

A.G.: Yes, but also to be known by the public. I was unknown. Now I can do what I wanted, race the three week events. It's easier for me to be ahead than in a week race.

B.U.: Explain!

A.G.: In a week long race, you depend on the time trial and a mountain stage to be able to win. In a three week race, I feel more comfortable, there are more possibilities to move. Without knowing, the days pass.

B.U.: How are you leaving Kelme? Have you talked to Belda, with Sevilla?

A.G.: Many things have been said about that. Before the Vuelta started, one could see that there was a rivalry, controversy. It was only a matter of waiting for the moment, that in three weeks was going to arrive. I was with Sevilla and with Belda at the presentation of the Vuelta, without incident.

B.U.: What have you done during the winter?

A.G.: Nothing. I'm the kind that doesn't like to do anything. I was in Canarias, at a hotel with thermal water, and then in Alicante, attending commitments. I even gained less weight than in other years. I will have five more kilos and in different occasions I gained up to ten kilos. Now the weight doesn't concern me, because as soon as I start to train, I lose it quickly and I'm not the type who spends the winter suffering. I need to gain weight to feel rested.


Aitor Gonzalez

Photo courtesy of La Vuelta
Birth Date: 27/02/1975
Birthplace: Zumarraga (Guipuzcoa)
Residence: Alicante
Height: 1.77 m.
Nationality: Spanish

Teams: Avianca (1998), Kelme (1999-2002), Fassa Bortolo (2003-)

Palmares
2002

11 GP Mosqueteiros
8 Tour of Romancy
1 - Stage 8 Giro d'Italia
1 - Stage 19 Giro d'Italia
6 Giro d'Italia
1 Vuelta a Espana
1 - Stage 8 Vuelta a Espana
1 - Stage 10 Vuelta a Espana
5 Escalada Montjuic
6 Criterium International
7 Worlds ITT

2001
1 Vuelta a Murcia
1 - Stage 5 Vuelta a Murcia
4 Volta Catalunya
4 GP Llodio
9 Vuelta Algarve
9 Criterium International
11 Semana Catalana

2000
1 - Stage 2 Vuelta Algarve
1 - Stage 3 Tour Limousin
2 GP Llodio
5 Subida Urkiola
5 Tour Limousin
6 Vuelta Polonia
15 Vuelta Murcia

 
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