Cycling is a school of life. It’s not simple, it’s complicated. There are values and discipline that help you in everyday life. It helped me to be a person both on and off the bike. It’s also helping me now as I start a new life, post-racing, at 39 years old.
I don’t look back on my career with doubts; what happened, happened. Cycling gave me a lot, a Giro d’Italia win – for an Italian, that’s the best.
It’s colder in cycling now. There’s less human contact, more emails and Skype. It’s a modern world, it reflects in cycling. It’s normal to have Americans and Australians in the peloton; they are just as numerous as the Spaniards or Italians once were. I wouldn’t change it; I’m more old-school so it is good that I turned pro when I did, in 1997. I’ve got less time to be a ‘modern man’ when I’m running after four babies.
Twitter and email are part of my life; you have to adapt. I’m not dependent on it – I do the minimum to be able to work in this world. Plus, you laugh, but I only started using an SRM at 35 years old. You see 15 year olds using them now.
Richie Porte impresses me; I like him as a racer and a person. I got to know him when he held the pink jersey at the Giro; he’s nice and open with me. He can win the Tour or the Giro. He goes strongly in time trials and the mountains.
Outside of cycling, I’ve never worked. I’m not sure if it’s for the best or not. I’m looking forward to being at home. In the last 10 years, with children, I’ve missed a lot of birthdays and anniversaries. I’ve spent about five years in total away from home in my career.
The couch is nonexistent in our home. At least I never have time to sit on it if it does exist. I’m riding my bike, taking the kids to school or football practice.
Spanish life is calm. I moved to Valencia to be with my wife, who’s from Spain. It’s been better for me to be less recognised and allowed me to focus on my work. That was key in my long career. But, I’ve never had problems with fame. I tell my team-mates to be more open to fans; it’s when they don’t ask for an autograph you’ll miss them.
This article was first published in the June 06 issue of Cycling Weekly. Read Cycling Weekly magazine on the day of release where ever you are in the world International digital edition, UK digital edition. And if you like us, rate us!