www.chechurubiera.info - an online magazine for fans of Chechu Rubiera

MEDIA 2008

Also 2001-2006 : 2006 : 2007 : 2009

Spanish translations by Christine Kahane, Rebecca Bell and Bruno Lopez Vizcon. German translation by Christine Kahane

December 2008

Which cyclist has taught Dani Navarro most about racing?

"Chechu. I'm really happy he is back with the team. He's a great example for a lot of people and not only cyclists. You see how many people follow him and they should continue. All the good things you read about Chechu is true. I should know since I ride and train with him. He's just a very nice person and has a great heart. He's helped me both on and off the bike. He's a good person to talk to for advice and I can learn a lot from just watching how he handles himself in situations. Having him back is a nice gift."

See also AMIGOS

December 2008

In a videochat on Tuesday with el Comercio, Chechu tells fans that it's unlikely that he'll race in the Tour de France.

Instead, he will go to Italy once again for the Giro and is looking forward to another Vuelta a España.

As in 2008, his early season will include Tour Down Under in Adelaide and Tour of California.


3 December 2008

Tenerife's laopinion.es reports a curious story today.

The training group of Lance Armstrong was stopped by the Guardia Civil yesterday because three cyclists - Popovych, Kloden and Horner - were riding without helmets.

Chechu put in a call to Johan, who then contacted the ACP to confirm that professional cyclists are not required to wear their helmets in training.

The incident seems to have caused some hilarity amongst the Astana team-mates.

28 October 2008

Chechu Rubiera : “Armstrong is a real gentleman »

arueda.com reports, After believing throughout the whole cycling season that after the Vuelta he would hang up his bike and start to work as a Technical Engineer (which is his academic background), Chechu Rubiera’s life changed, exactly like the cycling world changed, after Lance Armstrong’s announcement of his return to competition.

Chechu was given the offer to carry on in order to be at Lance’s side on his comeback, and any fan can understand that returning next to the American the year of his “come back” is something that totally motivates Chechu, who helped Lance in the past on several of his Tour de France victories.

We met Chechu Rubiera during the Volta a Menorca, in which he participated for the third year, and could talk together, bike at his side, and better acquaint ourselves with him. During his first years as a professional, he had high expectations, but he confesses that he soon adjusted to working as a domestique for several leaders, such as Heras, Escartin, and Armstrong. A job he has performed with pleasure all along those years.

Photograph © Javier Sánchez-Beaskoetxea, arueda.com

How is Lance seen from the inside ?

Well, of course with people he does not know, Lance is very reserved. He did not have a good relationship with the press because he had been subject to lots of criticism especially on the subject of doping. A lot of journalists enjoyed linking his illness with this type of practice.

But I think he demonstrated that he is an outstanding rider, with an astonishing potential. Additionally, he had an extraordinary mental strength that helped him overcome all the difficult moments.

How did Lance get on with the members of the team?

With all the people who were at his side, he was very grateful and a real gentleman. I remember that during the Tour 2003, where he started with doubts following a fall and other physical problems which he had gone through the week before the departure, a lot of people and journalists said he would not win, and Lance was afraid that the members of the team would have no confidence in his abilities.

So in the Luz Ardiden stage, when Lance needed to gain time on Ulrich, he attacked almost out of desperation and won the stage. And later, while we were in the team bus on our way to the hotel, Lance, after the protocol commitments, overtook us in his car like in a film, stopped in front of the bus, came out of the car to embrace us one by one, and shouted “Who said I would not win this Tour?” “Who is the best one down here?”. It was very important for him to know we had confidence in him and he wanted to thank each one of us for our work.

Do you remember your first race as a professional ?

The Vuelta a Majorca, with the Artiach team in 1995.

Has cycling changed a lot since those years?

Yes, very much. The equipment has evolved a lot, the team structure ..

Many people think that things have been rough for cycling in recent years, but alternatively others say that in the long run it will get better, because luck will turn.

Well, for some years people have become conscious of what cycling should be, but what happens is that when one works so hard in the fight against doping, and there is no tolerance at all, the cheaters get caught.

And despite the fact that we are very sad when such cases come out, people must be conscious that if this happens it’s because cycling is a pioneer, where the greatest effort is employed to eliminate doping.

Other sports are much more tolerant, less than half the number of searches for harmful products is applied, nor blood tests, nor any of the medical checks performed in cyclilng.

For this reason one can say, as many people do, that nowadays cycling is one of the cleanest sports.

This is sure. What’s sad is the the damage done to us compared with other sports where not half of the controls we are submitted to are made compulsory, nor any blood tests, and on top it’s us, the riders, who are the doped ones.

But you must be sad when you see outrageous cases concerning young riders like Ricco who, in principle, don’t belong to the “old school”.

More than a problem of “old school or “young school”, I think it’s a problem of the rider’s environment.

When you retire, although we don’t know when (laugh !), what will you most miss from cycling?

Well, for sure I’ll miss the atmosphere of the races, with my team mates, with the people I got friendly with. What I won’t miss is the travelling part. I love to travel but with my family.

Facing the coming year, what would you prefer, ride the Giro with Armstrong or the Tour with Alberto Contador?

I have already been told that I’ll take part in the Giro and am delighted, because I have a good relationship with Armstrong after riding five years at his side and all the experience we shared. Additionally, I love the Giro, where there is not as much strain as in the Tour, and where one can really enjoy the bike. In the Tour, you don’t get proper rest and there is a lot of stress.

Do you think Contador represents cycling’s future and will leave a mark like Armstrong or Indurain?

Alberto is the present of cycling. To win what he won at 25 and with his career still ahead of him, it augurs a very long and successful future.

And among the possible rivals, who do you think can give Alberto most trouble?

I would say the Schlecks, but I don’t think there is anyone of Alberto’s level.

Photograph © Javier Sánchez-Beaskoetxea, arueda.com

Will you carry on with cyclotourism when you retire?

Yes, one of the reasons why I am still riding is that it’s not a sacrifice to go out and train on my bike, because while I’m on my bike I can enjoy the Asturian landscape.

Words and photos by Javier Sánchez-Beaskoetxea, Giant Tours

See arueda.com

Vuelta a Menorca honours Chechu

Photograph © Arturo Sintes

In October, Menorca celebrated tourism and cycling with VIII Vuelta Cicloturista International. On Saturday 25, 319 cyclists rode a new exciting route on the country roads of Menorca.

This year's cicloturista was dedicated to Asturian cycling, and later on Saturday, Benjamín Noval, Rocío Gamonal, Dani Navarro, Carlos Barredo, Chechu Rubiera y Santi Pérez took part in a round-table discussion with journalists about cycling.

After Sunday's 66.5km ride into the mountains, a lunch was given in honour of Chechu Rubiera. He was presented with a digital album containing photos of his many visits to Menorca, and a plaque with the dedication, "Chechu a great cyclist, a better person".

The island council representatives were given signed commemorative posters.

15th October 2008

Asturian celebration in Mahón

The Vuelta a Menorca will honor Chechu Rubiera

La Nueva España reports, There will be a great celebration at the end of the month in Mahón, Menorca, during the VIII Vuelta Cicloturista International, which will also serve as a tribute to Chechu Rubiera.

The organization, headed by Arturo Sintes, has decided that this edition of the event will honor both Rubiera’s human qualities and his athletic prowess, as well as his years as gregario to Lance Armstrong and Alberto Contador.

The Vuelta a Menorca has a good national reputation in cycling. Each edition looks for a sister relationship with another region of Spain. This year the organization has decided to celebrate the participation of Asturian riders, who have frequently attended the event. Hence the tribute to Chechu Rubiera. Rubiera had planned to end his racing days but will continue another year at the request of Lance Armstrong, who has unexpectedly decided to return to competition.

Olympic champion Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel) will also take part, as well as Benjamin Noval—gregario to Alberto Contador—and Dani Navarro (Astana), Carlos Barredo and Paolo Bettini (Quick Step), and Rocío Gamonal (Cafés Toscaf-BH), a member of the women’s world championship mountain bike team.

All these cylists will participate in both stages of the Vuelta Cicloturista a Menorca. The first stage, held on Saturday, 25 October, will be a 113 kilometer loop starting and finishing in Mahón.

The second stage, Sunday, 26 October, will leave from Mahón, climb Monte Toro, then tour other parts of the island, concluding once again in Mahón.

Arturo Sintes, who is in addition president of the Balearic Cycling Federation, also invited cyclists from Asturias who were professionals in the 70s and 80s, for instance, José Manuel García, “Roxín,” winner of the Vuelta a Menorca from the fans category, and José Enrique Cima, who finished second in the mountain stage at Monte Toro while wearing the leader jersey in the Volta a Catalunya.

They will all participate in a symposium on cycling to be held in the fairgrounds, a few hours after finishing the first stage. The Centro Asturiano de Menorca will help to organize festival activites.

It is also expected that a member of the Principality’s government will travel to the Vuelta a Menorca to give greater official status to the sister relationship with Asturias in this year’s edition of the cicloturista ride.

Those riding in the Menorca event will greatly appreciate the island’s landscape as seen along the route, which has been declared a biosphere reserve by UNESCO. Added benefits will be the island’s accomodations and the event organization’s hospitality.

The option of an alternative scenic route has been planned for the companions of the cicloturistas interested in exploring the island, especially around Mahón.

After the Vuelta, there will be a prize ceremony and a time for the many Spanish and foreign participants to share memories. Recognition will be given to, among others, the largest team, the team which came from the farthest distance, the oldest rider, the youngest rider, and the best rider on the climb of Monte Toro.

8 October 2008

A formidable mountain summit in Asturias, the Coto Bello, is to be renamed in honour of Chechu Rubiera.

The summit, championed by Chechu, was announced as the Stage 14 finish at this year's Vuelta a España. It was changed to the Fuentes de Invierno at the request of the local government.

Photograph © Bruno Lopez Vizcon

Bruno climbed the Coto Bello earlier this summer. "In July, I climbed the famous "Chechu Rubiera" summit, the hardest thing I've done so far. The climb is hard, with a gradient that never less than 8% or 9%, with long stretches of 15%. The authorities willl have to do work there though, there is nothing at the summit."

Finally at the summit. Photograph © Bruno Lopez Vizcon

Cima Chechu Rubiera will make its debut at the Vuelta in 2010. The Angliru will also return. Next year however, the Vuelta peloton will not ride through the roads of Asturias. The race will start in the Netherlands and Belgium.

3rd October 2008

Photograph © leonoticias.com

Today, Chechu inaugurated the IX Feria Multisectorial in San Andrés, a festival celebrating sport and culture.

1 September 2008

Chechu Rubiera prepares to change from racing to engineering

terra.es writes, Last year, you announced your retirement but you’re still on the bike . . .

I said I was done because I didn’t have a team. Discovery quit and I saw myself without a job, until November, when the Astana offer came. This year, it’s official. I retire.

Is it the lack of motivation?

I have motivation in doing other things in my life after 14 years as a pro. It’s becoming more and more difficult to stay away from home that long, and although I know that I’ll miss it, I want to live quietly with my family, I want to be more time at home.

What future awaits you out of cycling?

I study engineering and I want to work in that area. I know it will be difficult to get used to the timetables and the daily work, because now I train when I want, I do what I want. You have to make the change when your mind is ready.

For five years, you helped Lance Armstrong and now you’re next to another star, Alberto Contador. What are your thoughts about him?

Very good actually, I share room with him and on the bike, he’s special but out of the road is a simple man, good team-mate. He’s a kind guy, very special as a rider.

Is there any resemblance with Lance Armstrong?

The similarity is that both of them have different skills that makes them the strongest ones on the bike. They are great riders and Contador still has the best to come and I’m sure that he will achieve great success.

The Vuelta arrives at Angliru in a few days, your homeland. What do you think of this climb and how do you see Contador performance on that day?

Angliru will be the hardest day on the Vuelta and Contador will attack to make a gap. For me, it’s the hardest climb in cycling, and different from Pyrenees or Alps. Not even Mortirolo is the same, Angliru is terrible, I don’t like it cause its extremely hard for a cycling race.

Until now the Vuelta goes on quietly for you and your team, Astana

The stages have passed really fast. No one expected those gaps on the first stages, that’s a sign that we are going fast. People want a wild Vuelta.

31 July 2008

The professional rider from Astana will close in this Vuelta 14 years of his successful career as a cyclist.

I still mantain the same thrill as in the beginning, but the body is not the same now

ciclismo al fondo writes, Two weeks ago, the alarms went on: Chechu Rubiera had fallen in the descent of a climb training for a Vuelta stage with his Astana team-mates. Fortunately, the bruised knee is getting better and his participation in the Spanish race is not at risk. If he is not on the world championship team, the Vuelta will be his last race as a pro.

How are you from the fall you had while training for the Vuelta?

Fortunately, and although I still have bursitis in the knee, I’m getting better and suffer no pain on the bike. On Saturday, I ride San Sebastián classic and I hope that in a couple of days the fall will be forgotten.

Have you realised that you are a month away from retiring?

I don’t think about it, to tell the truth. Something I’m thinking about is what I’m going to do after cycling. It will be a big change. I would like to work as an engineer.

Which Chechu Rubiera will we see on the Vuelta?

It will depend on my fitness. I hope to do my job: do what they tell me and work for Alberto. Win a stage is a dream, but that will happen on the breaks, and as we will problaby have to control the pack, it will be hard to have those chances.

Do you think on doing something special when you cross the final line

Not at all (laughs). Cross the line. When I come back home I’ll try to gather all the people closet to me that I lived and trained with during all those years. People that helped me since I was a child.

The world championships... you ruled it out?

If they choose me I will go without thinking it, the best way to retire. I rode five or six and is an experience that Ii love.

What are your thoughts on the Vuelta? With Sastre, Contador and Valverde, it looks pretty sweet.

Last year, it lost some hype. Now with Contador, it will be different. He’s a guy closest to the people. It’s a shame that all of us, me included, have neglected our own race when the Tour does not treat us really good.

Who will win in the Angliru?

Contador. This kid has a special talent, his skills to climb and to time trial, I didn’t see that in a long time. It will depend if the winner comes from a break, like the year Simoni won.

What do you think about Sastre success in the Tour?

We imagined Carlos Sastre in a podium, but not winning. He’s a great rider, I rode with him in Banesto amateur, but he lacked a little something to be a champion. He made this step and won with all the credit.

6 Giros, 6 Tours and 8 Vueltas. You are going to close your career with number 20.

Cool number (laughs). The truth is that it’s a lot of races because in cycling, the hardest things are the three week races. Maybe that encourages me not to keep on. (laughs hard)

Which one is the best for you?

Giro. It was my first, the only one in which I managed to win and the Italian fans are great. In the Tour, the people are on holidays, but the Giro is a big event, while the race crosses a town, they close the schools and the spectators really know a lot about cycling.

What’s left from the Artiach 1995 Chechu Rubiera?

Everything’s left. I maintain the same thrill that I had back then and I give a 100% both in training and competition, although the body is not the same. Cycling gave me a lot. Thanks to all the travelling, I have more culture than when I started.

1 July 2008

LNE writes, "Chechu Rubiera comments on the Spanish victory in the Football European Cup. Like other famous Asturians, he praises the results of the Spanish selection and highlights the unity of the team as a key element in success.

"Solidarity within the team is a priceless value says Chechu Rubiera. The Astana cyclist knows this very well. For many years, he was Lance Armstrong’s invaluable teammate in his Tour de France victories. “Sometimes, one has to put aside one’s personal interests for the sake of the group”.

Chechu praises the work of the team selector. “The selector plays a fundamental part when the time comes to create a group, and must have the skill to treat everyone in the same way, give each one equal importance, and be thankful for gregarios’ work at special times”.

Rubiera is very pleased with the success of the team because “they offer an image of down to earth people”. Spontaneously the rider mentions Cazorla and Villa. “It’s a source of great pride to have two Asturians at the very top of football and sport”.

26 June 2008

Chechu took time out with local cyclists last week, and talks to bloggers BLUE TOMATE BIKE about his first race bike which he got when he was 4-5 years old.

It was a magnificient “Podium”, a little jewel, but as he was riding and parking it anywhere, two years later it got stolen.

Go to VIDEO (in Spanish)

5 June 2008

Rubiera : Contador is the new Armstrong

Jose Carlos Delgado for marca.com writes, The Sporting Club of Mareo received a very special visit last Wednesday.

Chechu Rubiera, one of the most well-known riders in the international peloton, whom everyone remembers for his invaluable support for Armstrong, interrupted his daily training to wish good luck to Manuel Preciado’s outfit.

As he did not join Alberto Contador at the Giro, the Astana cyclist is now preparing for the Dauphiné Libéré,

In particular, Rubiera explained to MARCA what he thought of his team-mate's performance during the Tour of Italy :

"Contador’s victory was impressive. The presence of Alberto in the Giro had been imposed on our team by the (race) organisers. He was on holiday, as everyone knows, and we thought he would stop after five stages. But Contador is a rider with great class and, without being in great shape, he was able to win one of the Grand Tours. It’s incredible."

Rubiera, who was Amstrong’s team-mate in one of the greatest teams in history, sees in Contador a rider of the same calibre as the American :

"At 26, Contador has already won two major races, the Tour and the Giro. I think he has no limits and could be Amstrong’s successor.

Alberto is improving the image of cycling in Spain. He will play a major role in changing the opinion of sponsors, who are cautious just now because of all that is going on in cycling, as well as regaining confidence in this sport."

As regards the Tour de France’s persistence over the veto on Astana and deprive the French race from the best rider of the moment, the Asturian is clear about it :

"They have everything to lose, it’s really a shame to deprive the fans from the presence of Alberto and his classy cycling. Contador is the best rider in the world and Astana one of the most powerful teams."

"Even from the publicity angle, it’s a wrong and impaired decision for the Tour. Ultimately, they will get what they deserve."

Finally, on a personal note, Chechu Rubiera outlined his schedule:

"I am now preparing for the Critérium du Dauphiné. Then I’ll take part in several races, including Austria, to get ready for our big objective, the Vuelta a España."

May 2008


One-to-one with Chechu on Teleasturias' late night chat show, Meta y Persona. It's long, and he tells many stories, including his view on Luz Ardiden. We'll get the highlights soon.

Go to VIDEO (in Spanish)

April 2008

In the last moments of this Johan Bruyneel interview, he's upstaged by a certain Spanish cyclist and fan.


10 April 2008

We anticipate attacks mainly from Saunier Duval

Chechu Rubiera is currently the driving force in the Astana team’s job of controlling the peloton.

Gaizka Lasa, Diario Vasco reports, Wet, dirty, tired, and even sick, according to him. But always courteous. Chechu answered our questions before getting into his team bus.

«I am suffering from sinusitis, have been taking antibiotics for 7 days, and still have 3 more days to go to finish the treatment. But I feel better than I had thought, although not as well as I would like. We are lucky with the breakaways which until how happened soon after the departure, with few riders, and in general not dangerous. This allows us to control the peloton.

«In any case, our efforts will leave traces, and it’s possible that we pay the price tomorrow or the following days. What we don’t want is to leave Alberto isolated facing all of his rivals. For this reason, we are keeping in reserve the two or three strongest riders so that tomorrow they can help our leader. Because we are certainly expecting an attack, mainly from the Saunier Duval-Scott team.

«Tomorrow’s stage will be decisive. Besides, for me and my team mates the Vuelta al Pais Vasco ends there. After that it will be Alberto’s responsiblity.

«Right now, I don’t recollect how the stage goes, but while riding up the summits I’m sure I shall remember. I don’t know the final slope and have been told that it’s very steep. It will be the most difficult day for all of the riders, not just for our team.

«The team is well physically and morally. We have overcome the blow of the Tour. I think it was a wrong decision and we are proving to be a top quality group and with a new image, which deserves to be part of the Tour de France. We are trying to show our frustration on the road, attaining high level results and transmitting a good image.

«Concerning Contador, it’s clear that this man provides a show, and any race, no matter how important it may be, misses something by not inviting him. In any case, he is focused, and what he wants now is to win this race».

15 March 2008

Velo-club.net has just posted this INTERVIEW (in French).

How do you feel physically, and especially morally, at the beginning of the new season?

Very well in both respects. Better than I thought and better than last year at the beginning of the season.

What’s your race schedule?

The Vuelta a Castilla y Leon, the Circuit de la Sarthe, the Tour of Georgia, the Vuelta a Cataluña and the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré.

What are your main objectives for 2008?

Take advantage of my last year, do my work well and, if it’s possible, at as high a level as I am performing now.

Are you sure this will be your last year as a professional rider?


How have the riders and the staff reacted to the team’s exclusion from the races organized by ASO and RCS?

With great sadness, on the one hand, because it’s unfair and, on the other hand, because the present crisis that affects the cycling world is killing this sport from the inside, and that is the saddest side.

Will Alberto Contador focus his entire season on the Vuelta?

If he cannot take part in the Tour, the Vuelta is an important race that would allow him, in case of a victory, to achieve a great year, without having been able to participate in the Tour.

Excluded from many races, do you think Astana will fall back on the ProTour races?

We concentrate on doing our job to the best of our ability, whatever races we take part in. We make the same effort whether riding the Vuelta a Murcia or the Tour de France, if we were invited, with the difference that in the Vuelta a Murcia we are respected.

Have you already thought about your future?

I would like to complete my training as a Technical Engineer in an Asturian company, to see whether I have the required qualities and like it.

Faithful team mate of Lance Armstrong, has the Boss kept in touch with you?

We talk on the phone from time to time, but the distance between us, the time difference and our agendas (he is very busy with his foundation and I with my training and competitions), means that we have not seen each other for several months.

What’s your main wish for 2008?

I am and always have been very lucky. I cannot ask for anything more from life…. My strongest wish is that everybody should be at least as happy as I am.

Photograph by Susanne Goetze for cyclinginside.com

6 March 2008

Chechu talked this week in Murcia to Juan-Mari Guajardo, cyclinginside.com.

Hello Chechu, how are you, have you got through the winter well?

Yes, thank you. I feel well and, as you see, I am not doing so bad on the road.

Will this be your last year?

I think so, my very last : YES

You already said that last year …

Yes, but ASTANA made a good offer … and I still enjoy it.

Photograph by Susanne Goetze for cyclinginside.com

When you look back on your long career, which was your best, your greatest year?

2000 and 2001 were my best years.

Do you have any plans yet for when you end your career as a sportsman?

Frankly no. No, I don’t have any plans, but in any case surely not in cycling, nor as a sports director and even less as a official (Josu Garai, journalist with Marca, who is working nearby, intervenes and says "go to UCI, something must be happening there"). No, not with UCI either.

Chechu, why do you think cycling is so especially under the microscope, when everybody knows that nothing in this world, and that includes all sports, is clean and transparent?

Yes, if we had known, we could have changed it, but I think the main point is that the way cycling is structured, which is disastrous, everyone does as he pleases.

If you could, what would you change ?

I would first end the fight between the big (organisations), specifically the fight between UCI and the race organisers.

A question concerning Alberto. It’s a terrible situation for the team, Alberto is just starting his career with a lot of obstacles, a serious accident in 2004, in 2006 his team was not allowed to participate in the Tour, and most probably not this year either.

Fortunately, Alberto is incredibly strong mentally – he always manages to go forward.

You are Asturian, do you always train there or do you fly to warmer places?

No, I stay there, I train with Samu Sanchez, Ben Noval, Carlos Barrera, Dani Navarro and Santi Perez.

How are you organised? Do you meet one time at your place, the next at Samu’s? How do you do it?

We meet in the middle (Chechu shows on the map where he lives and where the others come from), it's very relaxing.

Photograph by Susanne Goetze for cyclinginside.com

What are your next race plans ?

At Easter, we shall participate in the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon, then the Tour of Georgia, the Tour of Romandie, the Circuit de la Sarthe. I don’t have the exact schedule in mind right now. Since we have been excluded from the Giro and the Tour, everything has been turned upside down.

Are you married? Do you have children?

Yes, I am married but I don’t have any children yet. I want to have some but when I have enough time.

Finally, do you still have contact with Lance ?

Yes, I do. We talked yesterday on the phone.

I wish you a lot of success….

Thank you, I’ll help Alberto as much as I can, to win this race.

Photograph : tbc

25 February 2008

Rubiera readies for retirement

Astana domestique Jose Luis 'Chechu' Rubiera confirmed his planned retirement at the end of the 2008 season.

Known for his domestique skills in the mountains, the Spaniard spent seven years with the US Postal turned Discovery Channel between the years 2001 and 2007, having turned professional in 1995. Rubiera was one of several riders to move from the defunct Discovery Channel squad with team-manager Johan Brunyeel to the revamped Astana outfit.

Following many rumours, Rubiera was expected to retire at the end of 2007, but according to the climber he had always intended to compete in 2008, if a suitable contract presented itself.

"It was a misunderstanding that I was going to retire last year," said Rubiera. "Last year I couldn't find a team and at the end of the Vuelta, I was looking for a team. The situation of cycling was really bad and I was not able to find anything.

"I had a contract with Discovery, but thought that if I was not able to keep racing because I couldn't find a team, then I was prepared for retirement because there was no there option," he added. "Johan called me with the option of riding for Astana, but I have always planned I will retire after this year."

Rubiera feels his season to date with Astana has been successful, with a good start at the ProTour's opening round, the Tour Down Under, in Australia and now at the Tour of California.

With the season starting on a high already for Rubiera, the rider is hoping for one more piece of good news in the form of a Tour de France invite for his squad. Astana hasn't been invited to any of French race organizer ASO's races - including the Tour de France - but Rubiera is hopeful the decision will be reversed.

"The team is really going well and I've been having a good time at the races away from Europe," said Rubiera. "As of right now we are not invited to the Tour but I hope that will change, if not I will focus on competing in the Vuelta."

After 13 years of racing, Rubiera believes that physically it is feasible to continue for another two or three more years due to maintaining a healthy lifestyle for years. However the Spaniard wants to change his focus to starting a family in the next couple of years. "I'm 35 and healthy and so maybe I could do a couple of years at the same level and quality of racing I'm doing now," he said. "But I think it is also a good moment to stop and to enjoy life."

Despite having just nine victories listed on his palmares since turning professional in 1995, Rubiera is one of the sport's super-domestiques. In addition to the Spaniard's efforts to sure up Levi Leipheimer's second Tour of California win last week, Rubiera was seen as a large contributor to some of Lance Armstrong's seven Tour de France victories.

"I think it was a long career and I was lucky with my health, but I wanted to take the time to do different things with my life, to stay with my family," he explained. "Time at home and try to find a career using my past studies as an engineer. I don't have children and that is another big reason for my retirement."

After turning professional in 1995 with Artiach, Rubiera claimed his first major victory two years later by conquering the Giro d'Italia's Stage 19. The Spaniard claimed his second Grand Tour stage victory three years later when he returned to Italy's Giro and won Stage 13. The 2000 win would be Rubiera's final Grand Tour win, despite coming close again when he finished runner-up on the Giro's 202 kilometre Stage 3 in 2006.

Rubiera also enjoyed glory on American soil when he claimed the Tour of Georgia's mountains classification in 2005. Rubiera's latest victory came in Asia during Discovery Channel's final season, where he won the Tour of Qinghai Lake's Stage 8.

Plus a pre-ToC interview with Chechu on ROADBIKEREVIEW.COM and VeloNews VIDEO

4 February 2008

"I am annoyed not to go to the Giro, but hope there will be other alternatives"

For his last season, Chechu Rubiera regrets not being able to take part in his favourite race because of the veto put on his team Astana.

"It annoys me not to be able to compete in the Giro for my last season, but I hope there will be an alternative calendar so I won't be idle during May," states Chechu Rubiera, who will have to alter a large part of his race calendar following the rejection of his team by the organisers of the Giro d'Italia.

The Gijón rider admits that "it upsets me but is not overwhelming, since I don’t have to prove anything anymore in cycling, although for some of my team-mates, such as Dani Navarro, this decision could affect future contracts for them".

Rubiera hopes that "there will be an alternative calendar, allowing us to race in May". And he points out, "Taking part in the Vuelta a Asturias would be a good solution".

However, he believes that all those possible changes in the team’s objectives are being resolved during the current training camp in Albuquerque, where Dani Navarro and Benjamin Noval are now.

Once more, he feels offended by the treatment his sport gets.

"This type of decision is unfair, because often the innocents have to pay for the sinners, but what is clear is that someone should coordinate some aspects of professional cycling".

"It’s unacceptable that the organisers of each one of the great multi-stage races put their veto on the teams they select", he argues. "It seems they want to finish with cycling and, the way they act, they will achieve their goal", he stresses.

Rubiera repeats that for his last year as a professional cyclist, "I want to enjoy the sport as in Australia just now where I rode a good race, without exhausting myself". He also adds, "I got to know some of the animals from this country and loved it".

The veteran rider from Baldornón, who is waiting for official news from his team, is packing his suitcase again. Next week, he will be travelling to the United States to compete in the Tour of California.

Navarro and Noval, who are on the other side of the ocean until the middle of this week, will also see their plans altered because the organisers of the Tour are contemplating not letting Astana participate, (a decision) which would affect the Mieres rider.


Jose Luis Rubiera

Spain's most experienced Grand Tour domestique harks back to Armstrong's glory years, and looks forward to one last season with Astana

You were on the point of retiring, now you're racing again. What happened?

At the very last moment I got a phone call from [ex-Discovery, future Astana boss] Johan Bruyneel. The offers I'd had were for lousy money, and some, like Saunier Duval, pay so little I didn't even bother contacting them. But Johan's offer made economic sense, so here I am for one last season.

Did you expect this to happen?

It was touch and go. I'm certainly very glad that I can finish my career as I wanted to, rather than retiring because there isn't any work.

But for younger riders the situation is terrible. I've lost count of the number of amateurs in my home region [Asturias] who want to turn pro and there just isn't anything out there.

Do you think the UCI's attempts to save the ProTour by making cycling more global through new races like the Tour of Russia and Tour of China is the right way to progress?

It would work if they were amateur races. But trying to make the pro races from the word go simply debilitates the European events that are currently on the calendar, without bringing any new life to the sport. It's completely unjust that so many people who have dedicated their careers to this sport have been forced onto the dole thanks to the ProTour. The idea was great, but it's been totally mismanaged.

But surely bringing in new races like the Tour Down Under in Australia to the ProTour is good?

I wrote to the UCI years back saying I thought so, but only if the events were included in a one-season basis - one year the ProTour visited Australia, the next the USA and so on. This sport's heartland is Europe, and the UCI should look after it more.

The sport is under pressure, which means your team-mate Alberto Contador will be under pressure when it comes to the Tour. Can he handle it?

I think so, for sure. He's very relaxed. Another of my team-mates, Benjamin Noval, told me that even in the last week of the 2007 Tour, when Alberto was in yellow and things got so difficult, if they started watching a film together at 11pm in the hotel room, by five past 11, Alberto would be sound asleep. He's really that laid-back.

You're one fo the few survivors of the US Postal Lance Armstrong years still racing. Any chance of a 'second Lance' sweeping the field in 2008?

Never. Lance will remain unique. I was a team-mate of Armstrong's in five of the Tours he won, and while we'd all be nervous in the build-up to the race, he never would be.

Which as the worst Tour for Armstrong?

Perhaps 2003, after falling in the Dauphine he wasn't in good shape and then had stomach problems early on. But then he won at Luz Ardiden even though he'd crashed at the foot of the climb. After the stage I remember he came down in a team car, overtook the team bus and stopped in the middle of the road so we had to stop.

He got in the bus and started shouting, "I'm not finished, I'm not finished." We might have been doubtful, but he never was.

9 January 2008

«In my last season, I want to enjoy cycling»

Chechu Rubiera, veteran of the Asturian peloton, is taking part in his first race in Australia, the Tour Down Under, starting January 21.

elcomerciogital.com writes, This will be a very special season. It's the final one after thirteen years as a professional of the peloton. He'll be leaving behind his victories in the Giro d'Italia, with the Kelme green and white jersey, and his team victories in the Tour alongside the mythical Lance Armstrong.

The most important thing for Chechu Rubiera is «to enjoy cycling, which means to compete without any kind of pressure, without trying to get results at any cost, but if I do get any, it will be great ». Now he is packing his suitcases for his departure next Monday for Australia, with the enthusiasm of his early days.

Of course, he knows that «at this point, I don’t have anything to prove as a cyclist, I think I've given everything to cycling, and now is not the time to set myself any huge objectives».

The Gijón rider will compete in a number of races before his seventh Giro d’Italia in May : «It seems like too many races, but in fact it amounts to about the same number of days I have raced at the beginning of the season every year, so I'm not worried.»

The first one to go

Rubiera will the the first Asturian rider to go this year when he takes part in the Tour Down Under. After this stage race, in which Carlos Barredo successfully competed in previous years, Chechu will take part in the Tour of California from 17th to 24th February.

Then, he will ride in the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon and the Vuelta a Murcia. And before the Giro, he will be competing in the Tour of Georgia in the US, and the Circuit de la Sarthe or the Vuelta al Pais Vasco, depending on what the team management decides.

In the Giro, (Janez) Brajkovic will probably be the team leader: «I like the race, but have to wait and see in what shape I am when I get there. Hopefully (I'll be) well. »

«Worst of all is travelling», says Chechu, «that’s why I am pleased not to go to Kazakhstan for the team presentation, as it has been cancelled».

As things stand, the Astana rider will almost go around the world in the first part of the year, «it does not bother me too much because I know it’s my last season ». He doesn't know yet if he will compete in the Vuelta a España, «because it depends on how the first races turn out».

On the other hand, he is very concerned with the problems cycling is experiencing because of doping, which «has left many cyclists unemployed and, in many cases, the attacks we suffer are not justified».

In this respect, he is sorry for fellow cyclists like «Santi Pérez, De Sarraga, and Santamarta, who have not found a team yet after the disappearance of Relax, the team had a number of Asturian (riders)».

Chechu Rubiera will feel at home within Astana, where he will have Bruyneel as manager, and Benjamin Noval as teammate, as well as Dani Navarro, who will be with him at the Giro d'Italia.

Photograph by P. Nosti, el Comerico

All text © 2006 Nicky Orr / Rebecca Bell. Web design by Modem Operandi
Photo Credits: Masthead: Liz Kreutz 2006. Left column from top: ThePaceline.com (source), chechurubiera.es.vg (source), Fotoreporter Sirotti 2001, Casey Gibson 2005. Right column from top: Liz Kreutz 2007, La Neuva España