We visited Team Cofidis headquarters at the Vuelta a España, accompanied by Mikel Azparren. Our ambassador and ultra distance cyclist chatted with Luis Ángel Maté about the first few days of the competition and how he feels on his new Orca.
Luis Ángel Maté is proving to be one of the standout Spanish cyclists in his fifth time at the Vuelta a España. The Team Cofidis rider has given it his all in the early days of the competition, starring in several breakaways and demonstrating his experience and commitment in the grand tours. So much so that after the La Puebla de Sanabria stage, he wore the combativity jersey.
In this Vuelta a España, we have seen you very active (normal, considering your personality), entering in several breakaways. How would you assess the first part of the competition?
Individually speaking, I am happy because I feel good and I have a good feeling about it. I've participated in three breakaways in ten days and I've pedaled for the victory. They've been breakaways that have arisen out of necessity, which means that I am in good shape and the end result cannot be more positive. The only negative point is that I did not manage to hold on until the end in any of the breakaways.
Mechanically speaking, you've debuted the new Orca OMR. What do you think of it as compared to the model you've competed with during the rest of the year?
I love it. Like a kid with new shoes. I like it a lot, I think it's been a very big step forward, improving in every aspect.
We've seen that the fork has evolved noticeably as compared to the previous model. The sloping has also changed quite a bit…Where do you see the biggest differences?
In every sense. Ultimately, it’s a different geometry that changes practically every aspect. Since the sloping is different, how it behaves also changes, over flat terrain and when climbing or descending, even when sprinting. The bike is more rigid and aerodynamic, with the front part. It responds very well in sprints and technical descents. In terms of appearance, I think it is also much improved.
Let me ask you about some of the details that bike fans want to know… What gears did you use in the difficult Lakes of Covadonga stage?
At what pace do you feel the most comfortable climbing?
80-85 rpm, but it depends a lot on the type of climb and the feelings that you are experiencing at the time. In a race, I try to go as fast as possible, and I don't usually notice this detail.
Are you the type that changes gears a lot, or do you stick with 39-52?
In terms of the wheel profile, do you usually set the specifications or do you follow the advice of the team/mechanic?
I like the Metron 40 a lot. I use them throughout the competition, unless there is a completely flat day, which is not the case in this Vuelta.
Are you a fan of carbon wheels or on rainy days would you like to use aluminum?
The brakes we have work perfectly well with carbon wheels, so we have no problems as far as this goes. It's not easy, there are many teams that have big problems with the brakes, but we have found a perfect rapport between the wheel, tubular tire and brake.
Tire pressure is also important. What pressure do you usually use? Do you decide or do you leave it up to the mechanic?
I usually have 9 bar in the back and 8 in front, but it also depends on whether it is raining, when you let more out…
On really hot days, do you inflate them less because the pressure will later increase?
No, I usually use the normal pressure.
And the tubular? Do you usually check it before you leave?
I always use 25. As far as checking it, I have blind faith in the team mechanics and I don't usually check the material. I know it will be in perfect condition