Zandio: "Bernal wants to redeem himself this season"

Navarrese Xabier Zandio, Ineos sports director, tells AS about the team's great goals for this year. Bernal will fight this year for the Giro d'Italia.


Xabier Zandio (43 years old), is one of the Ineos sports directors. He joined the team in 2011 as a running back and retired in 2016. From that moment, he became part of the staff of the British squad. He attends AS from Gorráiz (Pamplona) before traveling with the squad to Paris-Nice that starts this Sunday.

In 2020, the entire cycling calendar was altered since the outbreak of the pandemic. How do you face the current season? 444 444

With certain similarities to the previous one. The good thing is that we already know how to act against the virus if there are cases in the middle of the race. We had to modify the planning after the postponements of the Mallorca Challenge, the Vuelta a Andalucía, Valencia ... We try to do it in the best way, and we are fortunate to be able to continue competing.

The team has been winning at least one of the three Grand Tours each season since 2015. What are the objectives in 2021? 444 444

The race par excellence is always the Tour de France. This year the initial plan is to go with Richard Carapaz and with Tao Geoghegan Hart. We are also very excited about the debut of Egan Bernal in the Giro and in the Vuelta our leader will be one of the signings we have made this winter, Adam Yates. For the rest of the tests (classics, one-day races, one week races ...) we have a very complete team. We hope to be among the strongest: Jumbo, UAE, Bora ...

After shining and conquering the Tour in 2019, Bernal failed to defend the title last year and quit. How are you now?

I see you well, wanting to redeem yourself this season. He is young and has always liked to go to more at all times. He responded in a good way in the two French races in February (he finished 3rd in the Tour de Provence), that when the season opens you don't know how your body can respond.This year he will make his debut at the Giro and will not attend the Tour.

He really wants to be in Italy, since it is a country with which he has a special relationship (Androni signed him in 2016 at his European premiere). In 2019 he was going to participate and shortly before he had a fall that forced him to miss the race. He bounced back for the Tour ... and won it. Anyway, not being in France is an initial plan that later, during the season, we will see if there are any changes.

With the departure of Chris Froome, does a new era for the team begin?

With the departure of Chris many things change, since he was a rider who gave us a lot over almost a decade. Now we have signed very young people with renewed illusions and we need to be strong as many teams have taken a step forward. With the restrictions we have not yet been able to get all of them together, but the tuning is good.

Filippo Ganna is the current great dominator of time trials ... but he also wins mountain stages. Did you expect such a high performance?The truth is that it surprised us, because with that corpulence (1.93 m. And 82 kg) it is difficult to win in ascents (the Italian, with three, and Sosa, with two, give Ineos the five victories they have in 2021) . It has a spectacular plant and for this campaign the expectations are very high.

Pidcock, 21 years old and from cyclocross, and the Spaniard Carlos Rodríguez, 20, are future bets for the team. Are they responding? 444 444

Of Pidcock nobody knows his roof. It continues to improve and we still do not know how to classify it as a classic or voltomaniac. Carlos this season has already proven to be strong in France and we trust him.

How did you experience the day of La Covatilla in the last Vuelta with Movistar shooting and Carapaz fighting for the final victory?

I think it was a career set. They wanted to improve with Mas, Roglic was with them and Richard was calm after that. For this year his morale is through the roof.

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