An Interview with Tour de France Winner Óscar Pereiro
Spanish-born Óscar Pereiro cycled professionally from 2000 to 2010. He was awarded the Combativity Award for being the most aggressive rider in the 2005 Tour de France, before going on to claim the yellow jersey in 2006, making him the first Spanish Champion to be crowned winner since Miguel Indurain in 1995.
Although now retired from cycling, Pereiro still has a lot of love for the sport. We caught up with the malliot jaune winner, to talk about how he was inspired by watching racers like Indurain, and how a beginner can give road cycling a go.
How did you first get into cycling?
I’ve liked cycling since childhood. In Spain when I was eleven years old, I saw Pedro Delgado on television winning the Tour de France, then Miguel Indurain. It was a very popular sport, and many children started cycling after seeing our idols on television, dreaming of getting that far.
What’s the best way for a beginner to start cycling?
The best way to get started in cycling is to find the nearest cycling club where you can train and take part in activities under the responsibility of a monitor. Be very careful with cars on the road. For me, it was very important that my parents went with me to my competitions.
When you’re young, a track without traffic that’s about one mile long will be more than enough. As you get older and more aware, you can use back roads where there is not much traffic.
Any tips for entering your first race or sportive?
The best advice is to enjoy it! Be aware of yourself, your feelings and fitness, your limits and your mind. Be very careful too, because in a race you are riding much more aggressively than in training. Precaution is also very important.
What’s your favourite climb of all time?
My favourite mountain to cycle on is in Alpe d’Huez. It’s an incredibly important mountain in the history of the Tour de France.
Which stage of the Tour de France did you dread the most and why?
It all depends on your fitness and how you feel on the morning of the race. The Pyrenees stages were the hardest for me. The mountains have huge inclination and the 200kms after the last climb is really hard.
Do you follow a diet to make sure you keep in shape?
Your diet has to be balanced. For cycling on weekends, it shouldn’t be too hard to diet as you are doing a lot of exercise. When you go on your way to becoming a professional, it’s best to have the advice of a professional nutritionist.
Do you have any tips on making sure you're hydrated and energised while you’re racing?
When I was racing I ate and drank something every 30 minutes. Bars with carbohydrates and proteins or fruit are good to take with you. From the fourth hour onwards, it’s good to drink isotonic drinks. Often you have to eat and drink without enthusiasm, and just for fuel. The food and drink is the gasoline of a cyclist.
Finally, what are your top three tips for beginners?
- Make sure you wear good clothes – Dare2B is ideal for both beginners and experts.
- It’s advisable to be accompanied when you’re beginning to cycle on roads, to reduce the risk of danger.
- Finally, always keep in mind that the sport is meant to be enjoyable, as well as helping to have good health. It’s not about cycling like a professional, but to get on your bike and feel good doing it.
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