This interview with Jose Fernandez Matxin appears in Gara.net. The original
article is here.
Jose Fernandez Matxin will cover, at 32 years old, his third season as a
director sportif, this time with the Division I team Saunier Duval-Sidermec. He
was left without a team after two years with Italian team Mapei, "a unique
team." Now he confronts without fear, but with respect, a season with a bigger
responsibility. An ex-amateur rider, "from the bunch", he signed a pro contract
with CHCS, the first team of Olano, but he never got to make his debut, because
of the team's financial problems.
What's the difference, moving from Mapei to Saunier Duval-Sidermec?
One has to be realistic, and it's evident in the change of category; there's
a jump because Mapei was the best in the world. Nonetheless, it has been a
quality jump, because last year the most important race in which I was as first
director was the Tour d'Avenir. The responsibility is bigger: first director for
the Spanish calendar, and a good probability at the Tour...The challenge doesn't
scare me. Man, I have respect for people, but not for the volume of work.
How did you get involved in this project?
Mauro Gianneti received an offer to become the manager at Tacconi and he got
in touch with me after Mapei dissappeared, with the idea to head the young team
at Tacconi. At first we didn't reach an agreement and the riders started to go
to other teams. When Fabrizio Bontempi, one of the directors at Tacconi left to
go to Lampre, Mauro called me. Then I realized that they were barely going to
race in Spain, so I concluded that if a Spanish sponsor was found, we could race
in Spain. I presented the idea to Saunier Duval and in two hours they gave me
the go ahead.
What are the aspirations of the team this season?
With a rider like Garzelli, we have the aspiration for everything. In
principal, he will ride the Giro and Tour and I think that he can reach the
podium in both because he is a rider who has won the Giro. We hope he can start
as soon as possible. The suspension for his positive test states that it wasn't
voluntary. Possibly the caution suspension will be lifted and he can start at
the Vuelta a Murcia. Facing the World Cup with Fred Rodriguez, Bortolami and
Vainsteins, I'm convinced that we have one of the strongest blocks.
Is it true that a new team identity is seeked?
Yes. There's a group of companies behind the team who are the ones who carry
the financial weight of the team. The idea is to look for a definite identity
for the team and that there's one company that benefits from this identity, and
that it will not be a Vini Caldirola year, another Tacconi, and this year
Saunier Duval-Sidermec. It's something we are studying.
How do you value your experience at Mapei?
The experience has been very good. It always inspires you to arrive at the
professional level, just like the riders and it was something I was looking for:
to gain experience that I lacked in the professional field. When the offered was
made, I didn't think it alot because it was the best team in the world.
Has Mapei been the best team in the world?
Now I'm in a great team, with impressive riders and with a great schedule.
But the economic greatness and the level of organization at Mapei is
incomparable. It has been a unique team and I don't think there will be one like
it. In total, we were 100 people: 41 riders, 6-7 directors, 18 masseurs,
mechanics, seceretaries, doctors, press...
Last season you directed the some very talent young riders.
Yes. They had a demonstrated quality, but the first year they could be use to
fill holes. Finally a GS III was created and my job was to coordinate the team.
For his physical capacity and engine, Cancellara was a stand out and Pozzato was
too because of his class. Of the 14 riders that I had like Davis, Petrov, Rogers
or Cheula, I think that seven or eight will dominate cycling.
When did you decide that your place was behind the wheel of the team car?
I had a cousin who was second director at Lotus and he was going to race the
Vuelta a Portugal in 92. It was then I decided to hang the bike and direct
teams. That same year I was already directing at some races and I got the bug. I
started as a masseur, mechanic, doing a little bit of everything. Then I was
with Gasita Euskadi (93), Ripolin (94-96), Banaka (97) who was the predecessor
of the last one, and Saunier Duval (98-2000). Then I went to Mapei.
Saunier Duval-Sidermec 2003 Roster
Dario Andriotto ITA
Massimo Apollonio ITA
Gabriele Balducci ITA
Gianluca Bortolami ITA
Paolo Bossoni ITA
Patrick Calcagni SUI
Giampaolo Cheula ITA
Stefano Garzelli ITA
Mauro Gerosa ITA
Andrej Hauptman SLO
Andrea Masciarelli ITA
Simone Masciarelli ITA
Oscar Mason ITA
Eddy Mazzoleni ITA
Mauro Radaelli ITA
Fred Rodriguez USA
Gianluca Sironi ITA
Romans Vainsteins (not yet registered)
Steve Zampieri SUI
Pietro Zucconi SUI
Thanks to Manny for the translation.