When discussing cycling, few words are needed among cyclists. Who better than an experienced cyclist to reveal the secrets of one of today's most up and coming cyclists? We're talking about Dani Navarro, the Team Cofidis rider who has made a name for himself during the early days of the Tour de France 2016, who chatted with ultra distance cyclist Mikel Azparren during the first rest day of the French race. This was their conversation.
When training, do you prefer tubular or clincher tires?
I'm more of a clincher guy, more than anything because I've trained with them my entire life and they're comfortable for me. In fact, I've never trained with tubular before.
When you take a break during training, do you go more for pastries and Coca-Cola or a cereal bar and juice?
It depends. When I'm doing endurance training and I'm on the bike for a lot of hours and I do a lot of passes, I do like to stop and have a cup of coffee and some toast. When I'm training for only 3 or 4 hours, I make due with a cereal bar and some water.
Are you methodical about your training plan or do you rely on your feelings?
I'm very methodical. I follow the training plan to the letter and if not, I get a little obsessed about it. Sticking to the plan reassures me. I tend to look at the potentiometer a lot, even during a race, although you barely have time for it. As a matter of fact, during the last breakaway, I glanced at it to see the watts and whether I was doing more or less okay.
Do you like to train by yourself or with your gruppetto?
I like to go it alone, to train in the open air. When it's a long-distance training session, it's nice to go with someone, but I think that I train better when I'm alone.
After achieving any kid's dream, which is to go pro, what is your goal now?
Well, what we're trying to do now: win a stage in the Tour de France, for me the best race in the world, and the one that is best suited to my characteristics.
This is a question that I've always wanted to ask as a fan… Why do you think that for an Italian, the first is always the Giro, then the Tour and then the Vuelta; for a French cyclist, it is the Tour, Giro and Vuelta; and for a Spanish rider, generally speaking, the priority is the Tour, Vuelta and Giro?
I've never really thought about it. Maybe the reason is that it rates higher on an economic level and the repercussion for the team and sponsors is a lot greater on the Tour. Besides, I think that the level there is in this race cannot be found in any other in the world.
And as a fan, don't you like the Giro better than the Tour?
I've done all three, and it's true that the Giro is a very special race and very beautiful. But… the Tour is the Tour (laughs).
If you were able to change anything about the grand tours, what would it be?
I think the transfers. I think the length of the stages is fine. What's the worst for me is getting to the hotel late, like these last few days, when we've arrived at 8 pm, which is not normal when the next day you have a very hard stage ahead of you. In those cases, I think that you could move up the start of the stage or make it shorter.
Do you have any rituals before you set out?
Inspect the brakes. I'm obsessed (laughs).
Let's talk about biomechanics…Do you believe in it? Do you think that biomechanical studies contribute anything to road racing?
Yes. I've done it this year, and I'm very happy with the results. I think I have improved my position on the bike. It might not be a noticeable improvement, but it's enough for it to be positive.
Test question: Do you know the dimensions of your bike?
More or less (laughs). Right now, I only remember the saddle height: 73.4 cm.
Are you obsessed about the weight of your bike?
A little, yes. 100 g are not a lot, but anything that can be minimized is good, since we have a minimum weight we have to meet (6.8 kg.).
What one word would describe you as a cyclist?
You trained with ONCE-Wurst and debuted with the ONCE team in 2005… What was that moment like for you?
The truth is that I didn't much notice the change from amateur to professional. I remember they congratulated me for my job at the Vuelta a Valencia, so I have a good memory of it.
What is you best memory of the 2010 Tour, that you experienced alongside Contador?
I'll always remember the Morzine-Avoriaz stage in which I opened the way up for him, and I remember that I fell back just because, when really I still wanted to continue.
And at the World Championships in Ponferrada, where you competed with Alejandro Valderde, who won the silver?
My mission was to be in the breakaways when there were around three laps left, and I did it. I was in a dangerous breakaway, but in the end they caught up to us.
You've been with Liberty (2006), Astana (2007-2010), Saxo (2011-12) and Cofidis (since 2013). What's your assessment of these years and the person who has had the greatest impact on you as a rider?
They're stages that you look forward to with a lot of excitement. What I value is the experience and maturity that you gain from each of them. Among those who has had the greatest impact on me is Andreas Kloden, a very nice person and a terrific cyclist, and Armstrong, also a very good guy who is worthy of respect.
With the show you're putting on these days, fighting for the stage victory in two breakaways, you must feel more confident… With more of an eye on the Alps or Mont Ventoux?
More for the Alps. Mont Ventoux is a completely flat stage until the end, and I'm not going to kill myself to join a breakaway, which besides, I don't think will happen that day. I hope to save some strength for Sunday, when the high mountain starts again.
For you, what is the hardest week or the one that you dread the most of the three that make up the grand tours?
The hardest week for me is usually the first, especially in the Tour, since it has a lot of flat stages, with wind and falls; I'm afraid of falling, because I already suffered a lot of falls last year. During the following weeks, there's not as much stress, since most are already positioned in the classification.
There is a certain maturity among the top riders. Do you see a succession from the young riders?
Yes, there are some who are standing out, like Carlos Verona or Marc Soler… I think there is a succession, but it is also true that it is difficult to reach the level of Contador or ‘Purito’. The important thing is for them to have opportunities and for the squad to be filled with Spanish riders once again.
And finally, we're going to do a speed interview…I'm going to say a word and you tell me the first thing that comes to mind:
Cycling – Life
Breakaway – Victory
Rain – Falling
Tourmalet – Mythical
Pyrenees – Beautiful
Alps – Long passes
Paris – Eiffel Tower
Gruppetto – Friends
Indurain – The best
Pantani – The best climber
Armstrong – The Boss
Angliru – Extremely difficult
Basque Country – Fans