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Miguel Martinez's Interview.
 
By Manny Samaniego
Date: 6/15/2002
Miguel Martinez's Interview.
 
Interview courtesy of Todociclismo.com

"Banesto wanted to sign me when I was only 20 years old."

Miguel Martinez's father rode in Merckx's time and was a great climber. Miguel has dominated mountain biking for the last few years. Mapei has signed him for the road, while he also rides for his MTB team. His inclusion in the Mapei TdF squad is extraordindary, but then, "Little Mig" is a great cyclist.

Miguel Martinez, the best rider in the history of the mountain bike, seeks to demonstrate his quality on the road. Thanks to a three year-old contract with Mapei, the small French rider has already tasted the hardness of the asphalt and his first great objective will be to dispute the Tour de France. In this interview, "L'Enfant Terrible" comments on his path and future expectations.

From his father Mariano, winner of the King of the Mountain in the Tour of France, comes his Spanish origins. He was a key factor in the decision to prove his luck on thin tires. Olympic games, the World Cup, World Championships, Tour of France... Martinez's son has reached the highest levels in mountain biking. At 26 years he finds the motivation for the big stages of traditional road cycling.

Your idol is Laurent Jalabert?

Yes, because he is a great cyclist, a great gentleman.

When did you begin in cycling?

At six years old. My father, Mariano, not only encouraged me to it, but rather all my family has a great tradition in cycling.

Why did you decide to ride mountain bike and not on the road?

At the beginning I rode on the road, and when I was ten years old I tried the mountain bike. I continued riding mountain bikes because I was getting better and I believed that I could do more important things.

How is your relationship with cyclocross?

I have had some very good winter seasons, and until last year I have only competed in some races, but I don't believe that I will race much more from now on.

TWO OLYMPIC MEDALS

How were your experiences in the Games of Atlanta and Sydney?

Very good obviously, because in both I got a medal. At Atlanta I arrived with medal options because I already had World Cup status that year, and it was possible to win. In Sydney I had also had a very good season, so I was still a favorite. They are important events, mainly for the attention that you receive from the media. This is their importance.

Are you attracted by the downhill competition?

No, not at all. It is too dangerous, and it is not a sport that I want to try and follow.

What repercussion does the mountain biking have in France?

I suppose that it will happen as in all the places, there was a great boom, with many and good races, and later it has gone into a decline. Right now it is a minority sport in spite of the successes of quite a lot of riders.

MOTIVATION FOR THE ROAD

Why have you gone from the mountain bike to the road?

Because the road is more competitive. In mountain bike I believe that I have already won all the more important ones.

And why have you signed for Mapei? Were there contacts with ibanesto.com or French teams?

I wanted to prove myself on the road, and to make it in the biggest team in the world for me is an unique opportunity. After the Olympic Games, my father insisted that I sign; it seemed the suitable moment. i.Banesto was already interested in me five years ago; I was only 20, but was in a professional team of mountain bikes, Sunn, and at that point this sport was in all its splendor. And in France, last year Cofidis was interested in my situation.

What relationship do you have with your Mapei teammates?

Cadel Evans is of course the one I know the most, because he also comes from mountain biking. Did they know me? Yes, they had heard of me enough, and they tell me that I have a very good potential for the road. Oscar Freire is also a very good and very nice rider; he also likes mountain biking.

Why were you so irregular last year, after 2000 in which you were impressive?

From the beginning I insisted that it would be a year of transition for me. If you win the World Cup, World and Olympic Games, the list is so high that people asks you more and more. I also accepted Mapei's offer, and perhaps I didn't have my head in the right place.

CONTINUE RACING IN MTB

How were the negotiations with Full Dynamix and Mapei?

There were problems during the whole winter. Agreements were reached that there would be road racing with Mapei and some mountain biking with Full Dynamix. Concretely, seven races this year in MTB, including the World Championships.

How have you gotten ready to adapt better to the road? The physical requirement changes a lot, so I have gone from 53 kilos to 55 by working more in the gym.

TOUR DE FRANCE

Is it too complicated to dispute a Tour of France in your first road season?

It is a race that I am attracted by very much, and I go with the intention of gaining experience, without demands.

What would you prefer, to win a stage or the King of the Mountain?

King of the Mountain, although it is the most difficult to get.

Are you surprised at how well Cadel Evans has adapted?

Yes, because he has shown to be very strong. I would be satisfied if I can arrive at his level. My final objective is to get some victory.

Your contract with Mapei is for three years. How do you handle it?

It is a half term agreement to see if I can match myself to the road. It is a complete plan of training, and for my part I can not have more illusion of completing it. In this contract the mountain bike races are included with the clothes of Mapei and Full Dynamix's bicycle. And the Olympic Games in MTB.

Interview courtesy of Todociclismo.com


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