Iván García Cortina (Movistar Team) is known as "the" Spanish rider who loves cobbles. He's developed his taste for, and his knowledge of, the Northern Classics with Bahrain Victorious over the past three years and he's joined Movistar Team this season intending to lead the Spanish squad to success in Belgium and on Paris-Roubaix. He describes his feelings and ambitions ahead of the E3 Saxo Bank Classic, this Friday, and the rest of the cobble season, all the way to Paris-Roubaix.
How did you recover from Milano-Sanremo ahead of your next goals?
Iván García Cortina (IGC): It's all good. Sunday was sort of a rest day and I resumed training today [Monday 22nd], waiting for the Classics. I'll do Harelbeke (E3 Saxo Bank Classic), Gent-Wevelgem (in Flanders Fields), Dwars door Vlaanderen and the Ronde [Tour des Flandres], and then it's Roubaix already. This week, I'm not riding (Oxyclean Classic Brugge-) De Panne, so I'll do some recons. I haven't returned home since Strade Bianche. It will be about a month away, but in the end, it's better to avoid unnecessary trips with Covid-19.
It was your second participation in Milano-Sanremo and you finished 30th. How did it go in the finale?
IGC: I rode it last year but it was different, we didn't do the "capi", so it's a bit like it was my first time. It was very stressful ahead of the Cipressa. We were in a good position but then we got caught behind when it split on the downhill. We got back to the first group 2km before the Poggio. The positioning wasn't perfect and then you miss on the attacks and you can't battle it out with the main group. The legs were good but maybe I was a bit too confident not knowing the race.
Are you fully recovered after the crash that ended your 2020 season on the Scheldeprijs?
IGC: I broke my scaphoid just a week before Tour of Flanders! But now I'm good. I quickly had surgery and within a month I could already move my hand without trouble. I don't feel any inconvenience. My hand is ready for cobbles!
“I’ve learned about everything”
How did you come to love the Classics?
IGC: I always liked them. And then, when I joined Klein Constantia [in 2016], they were Quick-Step's feeder team, and it really got me into it. We were going to these races with proper equipment, with ambitions, and I loved it. Juan-Antonio Flecha (a Spanish pioneer on the cobbles, winner of the 2010 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, podium finisher at the Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix) has always been a reference for me. He's given me lots of advice. And I liked (Tom) Boonen, (Fabian) Cancellara...
You participated in the 2017 edition of Paris-Roubaix, at just 21 years old. What memories do you have?
IGC: Not so good! I punctured at a bad time. Nikki Terpstra had crashed and since he was on the ground, cars couldn't move past him and I ended up losing any option.
What have you learned since then?
IGC: I think I've learned about everything. It's about knowing those races: the route and how to race. You have to know the places, how to feed yourself for such a long race, the equipment too, with the different types of wheels, how to choose your tyres...
“I’m putting all my efforts into this, so let's hope I'm ready!”
Did you have a mentor at Bahrain Victorious?
IGC: The one who's given me the most advice is Flecha, he taught me a lot in my first years. Then, with Bahrain, the one I would ask more was Heinrich Haussler. He loves these races and I have a very good relationship with him.
He told us he came to his first Ronde van Vlaanderen without knowing much about the race and brought his audio player to enjoy some Britney Spears during the day...
IGC: [He laughs] I don't know what I'd listen to before the race, but I don't think you have time to care for music once it's started! That's also what we like about these races, they're quite rock and roll.
Are you ready to give your best on these races or do you still need to grow as a rider?
IGC: These are the main goals of the season and races I love. I train every day for this, I'm putting all my efforts into this, so let's hope I'm ready! I think the goal is to be at the front, with the group fighting for the win, and once we're up there, the legs will do the rest. I'll give my all and then we'll see what happens. I want to finish totally empty, make sure I left everything on the road.
You'll be doing this with a new kit, Movistar Team, after joining them this season...
IGC: It's a new team for me, with new teammates. We're still getting to know each other but I feel great and I think we have a good team. We already did well in the Omloop (Het Nieuwsblad). We're hopeful. We have to handle the key moments well.