After 16 years of professional cycling I have taken the decision to retire.
I think it's time now to enjoy my family and spend more time at home. I consider myself very lucky to have had the good fortune to do what I liked best during all these years. I enjoyed and did my job to the best of my ability. I felt the love of many fans around me and I was proud to have such support with such a modest record.
I hope you continue to enjoy cycling and that soon the difficult times we are undergoing will only be a bad memory.
Hasta pronto. We’ll meet on the road for I’ll remain a cyclist all my life.
A big thank you to everyone!!!
Despues de 16 años de ciclismo profesinal he decidido retirarme.
Creo que es hora de disfrutar de la familia y de estar mas tiempo en casa. Me considero un afortunado por haber tenido la suerte de haber hecho durante estos años lo que mas me gustaba. He disfrutado y he hecho mi trabajo lo mejor qeu he podido. He sentido el cariño de muchisimos aficionados y me he sentido orgulloso de tener tanto apoyo con tan poco palmares.
Espero que sigais disfrutando del ciclismo y que pronto estos momentos tan delicados que vivimos sean solo un mal recuerdo.
Hasta pronto. Nos veremos en la carretera porque sere ciclista toda mi vida.
Muchas gracias a todos!!!
Photograph © Glenn Kasin, Team Radioshack
3 December 2010
Photograph © Ángel González
Chechu Rubiera returns to Las Mestas cycling school
Former professional cyclist Chechu Rubiera announced today that he will collaborate with Las Mestas cycling school, where he started his sports career as a youngster, to give the fans, and especially those who begin in cycling, the same support he received from his home town.
At Gijón City Hall, Chechu Rubiera received a tribute today (3rd December) in which members from the Town Council, relatives, friends, athletes and supporters participated, to mark his farewell to professional cycling.
Clearly moved, former rider stated that to say a few words in the auditorium of the City Hall was "much more difficult" than climbing a mountain pass, and with a broken voice thanked (everyone) for this tribute.
Chechu Rubiera recalled being "the only pro cyclist who was fortunate enough to ride in his hometown in all the categories in which he competed, from childhold up to stages in the Vuelta a España".
Gijón Mayoress, Paz Fernández Felgueroso, said Rubiera is a "reference" for the city, "a great and caring person, who knows how to work in teams and sacrifice himself for others".
The municipal authority offered him a replica of the sculture called "The Climb", located at the entrance of the Palacio de los Deportes, as well as a caricature (drawing). Rubiera, on his part, gave the city a signed jersey with an inscription thanking them for the facilities given to him by the city to achieve his sporting goals.
22 November 2010
Gijón City Council will honor Rubiera
He will be received by the Mayoress in 3rd December in a ceremony attended by professional riders and members of the cycling community.
J.L. Calleja, El Comercio Digital
No wonder. Chechu Rubiera, following his retirement after 16 years as a professional, has received numerous expressions of affection. His farewell is without end. And his agenda at this end of year is very busy with constant tributes.
Among the many recognitions he attended recently, the highlight was the tribute he received last weekend in Cuenca in the company of historic rider Pedro Delgado, in a conference dedicated to late Asturian journalist Pedro Gonzalez, moderated by his professional colleague Carlos de Andres.
But what will be special is the event scheduled on 3rd December in the auditorium of Gijón Town Hall. The mayor, Paz Fernández Felgueroso, is planning a grandiose reception in honour of the person who made Gijón’s name known over the world for over 15 years. Most of professional riders of the Principality will be present, with the Olympic gold medallist Samuel Sanchez in the lead, together with the Gijón riders Carlos Barredo and Dani Navarro.
Nobody wants Chechu to go away from cycling. It is intended to organise a trophy bearing his name every year. Others would like to put him in charge of a good amateur team.
31 October 2010
The final goal
The second Oviedo Criterium was the best stage for a tribute to the Gijon rider
Chechu Rubiera hangs up the bike after 16 years as a professional, with a deserved tribute from his Asturian fans
Dani Blanco, el Comercio
Photograph © Peña Ciclista Allerana
Big event! Veteran Asturian rider, Chechu Rubiera, hung up the bike yesterday (last Saturday, 30th October). And like the famous bullfighters he did it through the main door.
After his 16 years as a professional, the Asturian fans rendered a deserved tribute to a person who left an imprint far beyond the sporting field, as was demonstrated in Calle Uria and the Oviedo Alamos. There, the Asturian fans gathered to display their affection for the Gijón rider who, after an emotional lap of honour, made his farewell to the cycling world.
There was no better way to acknowledge the courage, quality, work, efforts, and personality of Chechu, who took his leave cheered by the public and the riders who got together in Oviedo to pay him tribute.
One pedal stroke after the other, yesterday (30th October) afternoon was very special and emotional for the rider who used to be Armstrong's right hand man. After the exhibition races, the public – and among them his friends from Siero, Llanera and Aller - cheered the passage of the riders lap after lap.
One very special spectator was three-time Tour de France winner, Alberto Contador. The Pinto rider, who is in an awkward situation because of his alleged doping, did not want to miss the tribute to Rubiera, and from from the fence was one more spectator to applaud and acknowledge Chechu's magnificent career with the gesture of a champion.
"He has been a reference to many riders who start in this sport. At the beginning, we saw him win stages for himself, and then he dedicated himself to helping other riders, especially Lance Arsmtrong. He is an example for cycling," said Alberto Contador yesterday (30th October) in Oviedo.
Chechu helped me a lot
The Madrid rider, who shared a season in the Astana team with the Chechu, recalls that "he helped me a lot in the Vuelta a España which I won, and I have very fond memories of this great rider. I could not miss his tribute," explained the triple Tour de France winner.
Also present at this celebretation were several Asturian athletes like pelota players: Manu Busto and Javier Hernanz, ex-referee: Mejuto Gonzalez, and the president of Biesca Gigon, Juan Ramon Naves.
Before starting the racing, the Gijón rider had already received the loudest and most sustained ovation during the presentations. The public remained very concerned behind the security fences, some carrying big boards with a succinct but eloquent message: "Gracias Chechu".
There were also shows of support for Alberto Contador, who never stopped mixing with the public and posing for fans who wanted to have their photo taken with the Pinto rider.
After the ribbon-cutting ceremony, involving the Mayor of Oviedo, Gabino de Lorenzo, and Alberto Contador, the departure of the points race took place, won by the victor of the last Giro de Italia, Ivan Basso, wearing the pink jersey, with 18 points, three more than Barredo (second), and six more than Chechu Rubiera (third).
The Gijón rider did not let victory escape him in the elimination race, where in a tight final he beat the Italian from Liquigas. Finally, Chechu got his last win, reaching the goal with his hand on his heart, a sign of thanks to all those present in Oviedo, who gave the champion of the evening a standing ovation.
Ivan Basso dedicated a few words to Rubiera who he described as "an example as a professional cyclist and as a humain being. He is a great champion". Nor did the Italian miss the opportunity to point out that one of his goals is "to win the Vuelta a España", adding that "this has been a magnificient Criterium which showed a love for the sport".
Samuel Sanchez also wished to convey his marks of affection. The Olympic road race champion said "we'll miss you Chechu, both within the peloton and in daily life". Both the Oviedo rider and the group of Asturians, headed by Carlos Barredo, Daniel Navarro, Benjamin Noval and Santi Perez, displayed their great fondness and admiration for Chechu.
The last pedal strokes were particularly emotional. The Gijón rider performed a very emotional last lap which ended with a passage through a guard of honour formed by all the participants with their bikes raised. Chechu hugged each rider one by one to thank them for their support on the day he was hanging up the bike for good.
20 October 2010
There is no way to be done with doping
"I never regretted my decision. I always felt happy in my role as domestique of Lance Armstrong."
Marta Alonso, el Comercio
Everything has to come to an end. And now it's Chechu Rubiera’s turn. The Gijón rider got off the bike last Saturday after the Giro de Lombardia and his sixteenth season. Now it's finished, except for the Criterium Ciudad de Oviedo, but that’s another story. Exhibition yes, competitionno.
On 19th October Chechu responded to the questions posed by the internet users in the EL COMERCIO videochat.
What are you doing now?
I have been cutting firewood because the cold weather is arriving and I had got in some wood. I also had odd-jobs to do at home.
Will you remain linked with cycing?
I don’t know because I don't want to spend 120 days a year away from home.
What was your best time as a professional cyclist?
The best moments and memories hardly have a direct link with sport, but with travelling, having had the possibility of visiting China, Japan, Australia ... Especially the long trips which I used to undertake with pleasure.
Among the stages you won, what’s your best memory?
Without any doubt the one in the 1997 Giro. Plus, as it was the first one, it was very special.
You surely have had many tough times in races...
Many, especially when I was sick and had to grin and bear the pain. One time in Australia, I fell with 120 kilometers still to go. The temperature was as high as 45°C, and the team car did not notice what had happened to me. I did not have any water or food left.
The secret of so many years as a professional is to do what you like and enjoy competition, training, and a healthy life.
If you had not had to work for Armstrong, could you have won a stage in the Tour or finished in the top ten?
With a little good luck, I could have won a Tour stage. I also believe that for a year or two, when I was in very good condition, I could have finished in the top ten. But I never regretted the decision I made. I was always happy in my role as Armstrong’s domestique.
Which rider, apart from the American, has impressed you most?
Induráin. I remember seeing him in a Vuelta a Asturias that started out in Luanco, preparing for the Tour, with several well-organised teams after him, but unable to follow his pace.
What is your opinion concerning the "Contador case"?
It's very awkward because it's clear that such a small quantity cannot affect performance. It has done a lot of damage although there is no evidence that he took it voluntarily nor that it produced an improved performance.
What will happen?
I hope he is not punished but the truth is there are people who have been sanctioned for the same problem and perhaps they don't want to have committed any injustice.
Do you think that everybody "does it" as they say?
I don’t think so. I know that not all riders do it. Only 1% are tested positive. To put an end to doping is the same problem as putting an end to corruption in politics or misconduct in courts. There is no solution, and if there is one, we don't know it.
What makes the difference between a clean cyclist and one who uses a substance like EPO?
I would say at most 5%. Taking into account that the differences are sometimes very marginal, that means a lot. But if you take a rider without any special qualities and increase his potential by 5%, he's still an ordinary rider.
You don’t think that without doping the result would be the same, except that they would ride at a slower speed?
In a way, yes. There are cases that surprise us all. For example, the German Kohl who was an ordinary rider and suddenly was on the Tour podium. This was the result of doping. We all wish it did not exist, but there is always a percentage of 1 to 2% who play dirty tricks, with all that it entails. The sponsors then disappear and we pay the consequences.
What about Fernando Alonso’s project to create a team where you would be director?
To my knowledge there is nothing new nor any plan to do anything in the near future. What's certain is Fernando's great liking for cycling and his interest in creating a team with Conatador.
How do you see the future of Asturian cycling?
At the professional level, we are experiencing a golden age. In the lower categories, as is the case in the rest of Spain, there are very few young guys who have the commitment to take up cycling. Within a few years we’ll notice a gap in the professional field.
Are you aware that you have marked a before and an after in this sport in the Principality?
Surely the most glorious age was that of "Tarangu" and Balagué. Nowadays, it's also one of the best periods with Samuel Sanchez and Carlos Barredo. If I had to chose one, I would select Samuel because he is capable of riding a big race, but Barredo has progressed a lot and is a strong fighter.
Samuel is from Real Oviedo, and Barredo from Sporting. What are your colours?
Or course, the reds and whites [ed. Sporting de Gijón]
14 October 2010
The Asturian hangs up the bike after 16 years as a professional
Chechu Rubiera: "Being with Armstrong was very beneficial"
The Asturian rider says farewell to a peloton where he excelled as a domestique of Lance Armstrong. His record includes two stage victories in the Giro of Italia. He regrets the difficult times cycling is undergoing with the doping problems and is confident in Contador's innocence.
Enrique Bernaola, Marca.com
José Luis Rubiera is hanging up the bike after 16 years as a professional cyclist. The rider, born in Gijón 37 years ago, says farewell to the peloton after a career marked by his close relationship on and off the road with Lance Armstrong.
After a life totally linked to the cycling world, Chechu Rubiera takes his leave, happy and satisfied with the work accomplished. "It will be a drastic change in my life, but I don’t mind leaving competition. I’m tired of being far from home and I want to spend more time with my family."
The Asturian is aware that his record does not count a large number of victories, but he always accepted willingly his role of domestique.
"Unlike others, I have been fortunate to be able to decide when it was time for me to quit."
This coming Saturday, he will ride his last race (not taking into account the Criterium of Oviedo on 30 October). It will be the Giro of Lombardia, in Italy, a country which gave him his best memories. "It’s where I won my most important victories (one in the 1997 Giro and the other in 2001). In Lombardia, I hope to do the best I can, as I always did throughout my career."
At the time of his second victory in the Giro, Chechu was in Lance Armstrong’s team. It was in 2001 [ed. it was 2000] and the Asturian had signed with US Postal, after wearing the Kelme outfit for the previous four seasons. "The team was looking for new riders to strenghen its power in mountain stages, and they selected me. The team, the language, everything was new to me, but I managed to get on well with all of them." It’s there that his great friendship with Lance Armstrong started. "We got along well because, like me, he appreciated serious work and hard training."
Since then, the seven-time Tour champion could rely on him. "I was always comfortable with him, although we did not see each other often during the season, but my relationship with Lance was very special and I know that I can count on him for anything."
"I was fortunate not to participate in Tour 2009 were the problems arose between Lance and Contador."
But not all the memories are good. "There were also hard moments, not only when the results did not turn out, but when I lost friends on the road, like when Manuel Sanroma died, or the loss of Ricardo Ochoa. These are the most difficult times in my career."
Another complicated situation was to witness in the front line the tension and the lack of relationship between Lance Armstrong and Alberto Contador, when they were all three in the ranks of Astana. Chechu remembers that he wanted to stay out of the controversy. "If I had to ride for Lance, I did it, and if I had to ride for Alberto, I did it too. But it was hard to see each on them going his own way. Nevertheless, I was fortunate not to take part in the Tour 2009 where the problem became aggravated."
In 2010, Rubiera decided to continue at Lance Arsmtrong’s side for a new adventure and a new team: RadioShack. It’s the American who specifically requested the Spaniard to stay at his side as he had done since 2001. "It was he who convinced me and I did not hesitate because it was a good job, the best team, and being with Lance was always beneficial for me. I wanted to be near him in this new phase."
"Contador is a very clean rider and I have confidence in his honesty, although he is experiencing difficult times."
Chechu Rubiera takes his leave, and does so at a time when cycling in genereal, and in Spain in particular, is in the public eye for its doping cases. "It’s sad and disturbing but cycling will not disappear." The Gijón rider considers it’s a problem that should be nipped in the bud. "One person cheats and all the others have to pay for it. It’s an unfair situation, and I think that one should control also all the assistants, doctors and managers who often induce the riders to cheat."
Concerning the hard times Contador is experiencing as a consequence of a positive test for clenbuterol, Rubiera is confident in the innocence of the Pinto rider. "He is a very clean rider. I hope he has the fortune and the ability to defend himself, although it seems complicated. But I have faith in him and his honesty."
Armstrong says farewell to his “brother”
Chechu Rubiera’s departure leaves no one unmoved in the peloton, and especially within his team, RadioShack. They all shared the same bus, and Chechu passed almost all his career with Lance Arsmtrong. The American wanted to take his leave from the Asturian, congratulating him for an “unbelievable” career. The Texan paid him tribute with a few words that reflect their good relationship. “Chechu, my friend, friendship and loyalty are invaluable. I love you, brother!”.
Furthermore, Johan Bruyneel, who was his boss in recent years, had words of appreciation for the Spaniard. "His role was to guide the team on the road and share his experience with all the young riders. I cannot say how many hours he rode at the front of the peloton, but off the bike he was also important for his team mates."
And Levi Leipheimer remembers a rider who left his imprint in the team. "Everybody will miss you. You are a great guy and a true classy professional. Many thanks for all you have done." 13 October 2010
Riders who test positive for EPO have no excuses
The Radioshack rider says farewell to competition this coming Saturday after 16 years as a professional. Chechu Rubiera during his training yesterday on the roads of Asturias.
Pelayo G, la Voz de Asturias
Chechu has been riding as a professional cyclist since 1995. This coming Saturday, the Giro di Lombardia will mark the end of 16 years among the cycling elite. These days he is doing his last training rides in the Principality. He will take his leave with nine victories, including two Giro de Italia stages, after having participated in 20 multi-stage grand Tours and having been one of the best domestiques for Lance Armstrong. In Italy, he will be wearing his last race jersey to compete in the final cycling classic of the year. His farewell in front of the Asturian supporters will take place on 30th October in the Oviedo Criterium.
When did you take your decision?
In the first half of the season I felt good, I love biking and I thought that if I was asked to carry on with the team, I would. But after the birth of my son, everything changed. I could not rest well, and leaving for a week and a half to go on races was more and more difficult. As July and August went by, there were already too many reasons to quit.
What is your assessment for 2010?
In the first half, I went very well in all the races, but above all in the tours of Romandie and Castilla y Leon, but the second half took a lot out of me. The team level was not optimal either, the Tour was the main objective and did not turn out well. It was decided not to take part in the Giro, to concentrate on the Vuelta and the Tour. But the Tour was not good and we were not invited to the Vuelta. It was not a failure, but we had higher expectations.
You were very upset not to be able to participate to the Vuelta a España?
I would have liked it very much. It was a Vuelta with a strong incentive for me, with the Lagos stage which is the most mythical, and with a departure from Gijon finishing on Cotobello. Furthermore, it’s one of the three grand Tours. I would have loved to participate as a conclusion to my career and because it’s always a pleasure to compete in the Vuelta. I was very enthusiastic and when they did not invite us our schedule was upside down. The end of the season was a bit weird for me.
Lombardy is a good place to compete for the last time?
No doubt. It's one of the most important races on the calendar. The truth is that the riders who just took part in the Worlds and the Vuelta have a race condition which I don’t have, but during Paris-Tours, I worked for my team-mates and arrived in front. I want to finish as well placed as possible in my last race. I would like to say goodbye with a good taste in the mouth. Additionally, the circuit includes the Madonna de Ghisallo, who is said to be the patron saint of cyclists.
Will you have a thought for her when you pass there?
It depends on how we go, if I have the opportunity I’ll look at her, and if I finish without falling, I’ll thank her for having been able to carry on for so many years doing what I love.
How do you imagine the moment when you’ll remove your race number on Saturday after the race?
I won't remove it, I would like to leave it stuck to my last jersey and offer it to someone special.
Among these three, which is your best memory: your stage victory in the 1997 Giro, your second victory in this race in 2000, or the 2001 Tour Alpe d’Huez stage?
No doubt the first Giro victory. I was 23 and it was my first Grand Tour. Emotionally it was the most special. When I left for the race, I never imagined I could win a stage, and we thought we’d see if I could finish it because in addition it was the queen stage.
Winning is always something special, but the Alpe d’Huez stage was also very special. It happened in a race I did not know, the Tour. In the US Postal team, it seemed that year that only Armstrong, Heras and me were doing well in the mountains and I gained Lance’s confidence. Thanks to that, I was able to stay so many years at his side.
And the worst?
Some sad moments, like riding the Vuelta a Catalunya when Manuel Sanroma was killed. I passed by him when he was lying on the ground and after, in the bus, I heard there was nothing one could do for him anymore. It was very hard.
Is there a solution for cycling?
The press is very busy calling us when there are scandals, and I get tired of saying that cycling is the most controlled sport in the world and the one that has the lowest recorded positive cases in comparision to the checks. For me, Contador is a totally clean cyclist, he is the best rider and I hope he will prove his innocence.
Some things cannot be excused like being positive for EPO, which is very damaging to the sport. These riders have no excuses. The percentage of cases is 1% and they appear to occur just in our sport, and as a consequence the Criterium of the Asociacion de Ciclistas has been suspended due to the withdrawal of its sponsors. Furthermore, many teams will shut down and it will be very difficult to find other sponsors.
How do you see your future after cycling?
I don't know. All elite professional athletes face this dilemma, not being able to do anything else, having little training, but I hope to work in a field that motivates me, in the same way that I have been motivated by cycling and in which I’ll be good. I know it's a difficult challenge.
Aren’t you tempted to remain connected with the cycling world?
No, because this means being away from my home and family for several days at a time.
Will you carry on riding the bike?
That's for sure. For a high-level athlete, it's important to continue practising a sport and the bike is something I love.
14 September 2010
Chechu Rubiera is preparing his farewell
The veteran Asturian cyclist will participate in the Giro de Lombardia on 16 October in what will probably be his last race.
The Gijón rider will announce his retirement in the coming days after 16 years of professional cycling.
Jose Luis Calleja, el Comercio
Chechu Rubiera is very close to hanging up the bike. For good. His last race will probably be the Giro de Lombardy. The date of 16th October appears to be marked in red on his calendar. Funnily enough, after 16 years of a professional career! After that day, only an aperitive is left. At home. In Asturias. His almost certain participation in the Critierium de Oviedo at the end of October. A race that will bear the symbol of an exhibition.
The veteran 37-year old Gijón rider was, nevertheless, encouraged to carry on only a few months ago. The reason? His good results in the Vuelta a Castilla y León and in the Tour of California, in which races he was ranked among the leaders in the general classification. In fact, in the American race, if Armstrong had not fallen, he would have finished with a higher ranking.
Thus, at that time, Chechu Rubiera was motivated in extending his professional career. He only requested a relaxed time table, similar to the one he was granted in the last couple of years, which allowed him to not participate in multi-stage big races. After the decision not to invite his Radioshack team to the Vuelta a España 2010, Rubiera’s situation reached a turning point. This decision from the Vuelta organisers affected the fine Baldornón rider deeply. Particularly in view of the sentimental significance which meant for him not being able to compete in the stage departing from his hometown (Gijón) and leading to the summit which bears his name (Cotobello).
Thus, the continuation of the Asturian cyclist, who holds the record for time spent in the international peloton, is up in the air, athough this time it seems that his retirement will turn into reality. Chechu Rubiera was close to abandoning the bike in 2008, and actually received several tributes in Asturias and other places in Spain. But Lance Arsmtrong’s return to pro-cycling made him change his mind and ride for a couple of more years.
But this time his farewell may be final. The Radioshack rider confessed to this newspaper before starting the Tour de Vendée at the end of last week that "I am 99% sure to quit, but I still have not given my final decision to the team because I recently talked with Johan Bruyneel – his manager - and we expect to have another conversation, but everything points to a retirement, unless I get a new very interesting offer".
The idea of Armstrong and his sports director was that Chechu could assume the task of adviser to the less experienced riders in the team, but "at present, the most urgent task is to rejuvenate the squad and I don't think I can be part of it. Therefore, I think the Giro de Lombardia could be my farewell".
Furthermore, Rubiera is very keen on spending more time with his family. Especially since the birth of his son Noah last April (ed. March), a preoccupation which does not exactly encourage him to carry on with high level competition because of all the obligations and travel involved.
"In the last couple of months I got used to the idea that one day all this would come to an end, but I cannot complain because cycling has granted me a lot. It was my profession and my way of life," says Chechu Rubiera who sees his retirement close by and will soon take his leave in an official way. "But I won’t announce it until I have a last conversation with Johan."
Chechu Rubiera has been in activity for 16 years, a record that has only been bettered by José Luis Arrieta, who announced his retirement after 18 years, and Inigo Cuesta who also reached that figure. His departure will without any doubt leave a great impact in Asturian and Spanish cycling. His victories in the Giro d’Italia in 1997 and 2001, finishing in the top classification of the transalpine race, as well as his role alongside Armstrong in the various Tours won by the American, will remain in the memory of all the fans who, furthermore, will remember him with deep affection.
Imaginings from Belgium
by Chechu Rubiera
First published in el Comercio, 14 September 2010.
A few years ago, after climbing Cotobello during a training ride on the recommendation of friends from the Peña Ciclista Allerana, I called the Vuelta a España organisers to talk to them about the summit and how good it would be as a finish in a mountain stage.
Today it’s a reality and Asturians can enjoy the great show that is a high mountain stage. But, unfortunately, I could not be there. I’m competing in Belgium.
My plans were to be able to participate in a very emotional day for me, with a stage start in Gijón, my home town, and arrival on a summit which bears my name surrounded by the great family formed by the Asturian cycling fans.
I particularly imagined the roadside encouragements of my friends from Peña Ciclista Allerana - responsible for my name being linked to this mountain - that no-one discovered, that had always been there, and I appreciate such a great honour. Witness the time where it will continue for many years. I hope to see better times for cycling, eras when all errors and ghosts from the past will only be history and give way to cycling which is exemplary and admired.
It’s incredible to think that, while the Vuelta a España is on, the world road cycling champion is riding in France, while at the same time other famous cyclists are competing at the highest level in Canada. On the same day! Could you imagine three Formula 1 Grand Prix simultaneously? Of course not.
I also imagine the joy on the departure line of my friend Barredo, tireless fighter, surrounded by his Gijón neighbours, still celebrating his victory in a legendary stage of the Vuelta a España, the most emblematic landmark for an Austurian: Covadonga and Los Lagos. Bravo Carlinos!
And not far from the departure line is Las Mestas velodrome, with its cycling school in which people like Dani Navarro, Carlos Barredo, Luis Pasamontes and myself made their first pedal strokes. A school which also produced biologists, mechanics, plumbers and engineers. And above all, people. A school of team work, sacrifice, and the reward of advancing with the effort of each pedal stroke.
About the race, one could also say that it has been a rewarding day. One of those which “pays off” because justice is done. A reward for a fighter and his team orphaned of its leader. Mikel Nieve and Euskatel deserved that victory. Igor Anton was probably the favourite for winning in Cotobello and also for the Vuelta GC. His fall, as well at that of his teammate Egoy Martinez, have been a terrible disappointment for the team.
Mikel Nieve spent many days working for his leader and, in that fall, he probably could have seen the end of the Vuelta. But, far from losing his motivation and desire, he kept on working, behaved very bravely and deserved this victory because he defended his position from the bottom of the climb with strength and suffering.
I’ll probably never climb Cotobello in a race, but I am lucky to live in Asturias, a paradise for cycling. I can go up Cotobello, Los Lagos, La Cubilla, and L’Angliru any time I want. They are open the whole year round. Cycling fans don’t know how lucky they are. And those who don’t ride the bike don’t know what they are missing.
Photograph © Christine Kahane
24 August 2010
Barredo wants to win for Chechu
Jose Luis Calleja, el Comercio
Carlos Barredo wants to win for Chechu Rubiera on Cotobello. The Quick Step rider ascended the mountain in Aller with EL COMERCIO, accompanied by the Baldernón native Rubiera, who has given his name to the peak, but who won’t be able to crest it in the Vuelta a Esapna since his team, RadioShack, did not receive an invitation from the race organization.
In light of this absence, Barredo is clear that "winning on this new mountain would be a joy for me and for Chechu, who was one of the people who influenced me most to become a cyclist." On the other hand, he warns that it will be a difficult mission "because it’s the queen stage and the ones who are riding for the general classification are not going to give away a meter."
He won't be the only one to try it. The other Asturian cyclist who'll be riding the Vuelta, Luis Pasamontes (Caisse d’Epargne), also has his mind set on the top of Cotobello. "I trained with him last week in Madrid and he commented to me that he'd like to make war in the two Asturian stages, but especially this one," said Barredo.
Rubiera himself is delighted that "Carlos has the desire because he's like part of my family and I think he’s very motivated, even though it will be complicated." "But, if a group reaches the high part," said Rubiera, "he’s a cyclist that has a good pedal cadence for beating the best, even at the most difficult moments."
Barredo confesses that "in principle, I wasn’t going to ride the Vuelta, but, when I saw the route and the Asturias stages, neither my teammates nor I had any doubt." Chechu ca'’t say the same "because my team was unjustly 'not invited,' as the race director, Javier Guillén said recently." "I’ll have to resign myself to it, and the saddest thing is that I won’t even be able to watch the stage because my team is registered to ride two races in Belgium during those days," he lamented.
To the rider from the Italian team, the absence of the RadioShack rider seems tremendously unfair "because he’s the one that discovered this peak and fought to get it into the Vuelta as a stage," while complaining "how is it possible to leave out this American team and another like BMC, which are two strong sponsors that have taken a gamble on cycling. Of course this decision is not good for our sport in these times of crisis."
In an analysis of the ascent of Cotobello, Barredo explains that "the most difficult parts are the beginning and the end, because in the rest of the route you have to try to keep a steady pace." And he added that "on the first ramps it's going to be important to get into your stride because if not, you’re really going to suffer."
He's also clear that "as you’re climbing, if you overcome six of the ten kilometers of climbing, you’re going to gain confidence for tackling the final slope." In this sense, he explains that "what’s important is to arrive strong in the final kilometer, where there are some slopes of up to 16%, so it seems to go on forever, plus you're hanging on to the road."
The final decisive kilometer
Chechu Rubiera agrees with Barredo’s analysis of the ascent: "You have to pay attention to what goes on on the first ramps, but then reaching the final kilometer strong is vital, because this tough hill, that still doesn’t have a name, it has a percentage that will go badly for all but the best climbers." However, the key, according to the veteran rider, is"“in the legs." "It’s a lovely climb, but with constant ups and downs. That doesn’t leave much opportunity for tactics on the ascent, that’s why regulating your energy will be fundamental," he warns.
Also, for Barredo the psychological factor will play a major role because "the Vuelta is a race where, if you arrive mentally fresh, you do well, even though other factors also matter, like seizing the right moment or getting yourself in to an escape group in order to launch the definitive attack later."
About who can win on Cotobello and take the Vuelta, both have their prediction: "Let's hope it's an Asturian, but the Schlecks, especially Frank, Menchov, Cavendish or some rider from the Spanish teams will be among the best for the final victory."
23 August 2010
Chechu Rubiera is competing in two races in France while waiting to learn about his future
J.L.C., el Comercio
Chechu Rubiera (RadioShack) will compete in two races this week in France after having recently participated in the Tour de l’Ain. The 38-year old Gijón veteran cyclist could be giving his last pedal strokes, after 16 years as a professional.
However, Lance Armstrong will carry on for one more season with RadioShack and logically the great Baldornón rider should continue through 2011.
"If Bruyneel offers me an easy calendar like this year’s, I have no problem in carrying on. Besides, I have good feelings because in all the races I rode, my level was good, and therefore I would not mind extending my professional career," said Rubiera.
Yet, the Asturian rider admits that he thinks "they want to rejuvenate the team, but until a decision is made and there is no official communiqué, my future is a bit in the air".
After being informed of the bad news that his team would not take part in the Vuelta a España, Rubiera has competed in other races. Recently he took part in Tour de l’Ain and this week he will ride in two races in France. From tomorrow until Frida,y he will be in Tour du Poitou Charentes et de la Vienne, and on Sunday, he will conclude with another high class race: the Chateauroux Classic de l’Indre – Trophée Fenioux.
Chechu makes it clear that "I will try to enjoy myself in these two races". The other riders from his team who will accompany the Gijón rider are: Fumiyuki Beppu, Markel Irizar, Geoffroy Lequatre, Sergio Paulinho, Yaroslav Popovych, Jesse Sergent y Haimar Zubeldia, who just won the Tour de l’Ain.
29 May 2010
Rubiera: "Lance will be in the top five in the Tour de France"
The Gijon rider returned from California with severe after-effects from a fall
By JE Cima, La Neuva España
Chechu Rubiera was interviewed the day before yesterday in his Muño home.
Chechu Rubiera (Gijón 1973) returned the day before yesterday from the Tour of California with his body hurting all over and many bruises on the head, body and limbs caused by a fall he suffered eight days ago in which Lance Armstrong was also involved.
The Baldornón rider says "I have participated already three times in that race and like it because the Americans organise such events very well in terms of the participation, the media, the environment, and attracting lots of spectators. It’s an example of organisation for everybody. They only lack participating in a Pro-Tour race."
But that did not prevent falls, according to the Gijón rider, because "the teams there fight hard to be at the front and take risks. This tension produces falls even on four-lane roads. In the Armstrong pack, I was the first to fall, because I was kicked in the front wheel. It’s a miracle, taking into account how my helmet and my bike were smashed to pieces, as well as the the way my body was bruised, not to have any broken bones as was the case for others. Now I’ll have some rest, I’ll take care of my back, because all my body is sore, and will begin my preparaton for the Vuelta a España, which includes some good stages in Asturias, starting with the Tour of Austria in July”.
Armstrong has already recovered and is returning to competition in the Tours of Luxembourg and Switzerland, in view of the Tour de France. Rubiera explains that "a crack in the elbow was excluded. Lance looked good in California because he demonstrated a total change in comparison with the Vuelta a Murcia. It’s sure that he’ll be among the top five in the Tour, because he’ll be better prepared than last year when he came third despite returning from a three-year retirement period. The favourite is Contador because he has progressed hugely in the time trial and is the best in the mountain".
Another problem is the start of the Tour in the Netherlands which will be "very complicated with the narrow roads, the roundabouts, the cobblestones, and the usual tension of the first week. There will certainly be falls, and some among the favourites may lose their chances to win or will come out of it weakened".
During the Tour of California, US rider Floyd Landis made some statements concerning transfusions by Armstrong and other US Postal teammates in 2004. Chechu Rubiera argues that "the US press confronted Armstrong, myself, and others who were teammates at that time, with these accusations. One must know how to interpret what Landis says because Floyd is a person with a lot of problems and little credibility. He raised money from some of his fellow Americans to pay for his defense, and now he says he is guilty. He is undoubtedly a liar, then or now".
The Gijón rider repeats "it’s not possible to believe a person like Landis. Before talking he should have proof of what he says. It hurts us all at the time because it’s the image of all of us that deteriorates, but we are also reassured because we know the guy. I think that in a few days everything will be back to normal".
Before rerturning to Asturias, Chechu made a stop in BarLata in the San Francisco Bay, to participate in a ride for the Livestrong Cancer Foundation. Rubiera says that they "sponsor a team of veterans one of whom suffers from cancer, and we did it to help him".
Versus interview with Chechu
In the countdown to the start of the biggest US cycle race, Versus released their January interview with Chechu. He talks about another season and this year's Tour of California.
Go to Versus
28 April 2010
Roadcycling.com talks to Chechu about his nutritional secrets.
"This is my 16th year, and when I started we used to have pieces of cake or apples and bananas during the races ... We do still have cake sometimes, but I haven't had a piece of apple for maybe eight years now. Many of the guys eat bananas because of the potassium, but because you have to go back to the car, it's not a good idea in races, because it costs you time and effort to get one, unpeel it and eat it."
Go to Roadcycling.com
Photographs for this feature were taken by Christine Kahane for ChechuRubiera.info. You can see the full set from Castilla y León on Facebook.
26 March 2010
New signage on Cotobello cima Chechu Rubiera
Photograph © JE Cima
Ir a esciclismo.com
21 March 2010
The Principality teaches Chechu how to fish
The cyclist encourages fishing without killing, together with vice-councillor Belén Fernández
Rider Chechu Rubiera throws his rod in the Esva river on the opening day of the fishing season.
By Ana M. SERRANO - La Nueva España
Asturian rider Chechu Rubiera holding a fishing rod in the Esva river. This was the image that the Principality wished to broadcast in order to promote the "fishing without killing" system, hardly practiced yet in Asturias, which the Council for Environment is promoting in order to render feasible the recovery of salmon in Asturian rivers.
For his debut in the fishing sports world, the athlete was accompanied by vice-concillor for the Environment, Belén Fernadez, who defended in a fiery way the new salmon norm and, specially, the "fishing without killing" practice, a mode which at the beginning of the season reactivated criticism among fishermen.
Fernandez said that the norm is supported by technical data, recalled that the salmon "is a natural resource of all" and before the watchful eyes of the fishermen gathered on the Piedra Blanca de Valdés fishing reserve explained that the new norm "might be more generous in the future if the species recover". In any case, she added that it’s not possible to put it into practice from one day to the other. "It’s a different norm, well-balanced, committed to the recovery of the species, which tries to ensure the enjoyment of all fishermen."
The new law allows salmon fishing with killing only from May until July, and not from the beginning of the season as was the norm until now.
21 March 2010
The Contador – Armstrong Duel
Their right-hand men, Benjamín Noval and Chechu Rubiera, analyze the upcoming confrontation in the Tour
The Asturians agree that "Alberto is the strongest in the mountains” and warn of the “danger of Lance on the pavé"
By J.E. CIMA – La Nueva España
Pola de Siero - Everybody who likes cycling is anxiously awaiting the Tour de France duel between Alberto Contador and Lance Armstrong. This is because the Madrileño is the best climber in the world and the great favorite, but the Texan, even though not quite what he used to be, will be looking to make a mess at the departure in Holland and Belgium in order to try to catch the Madrileño in a wind and pavé trap.
One such person is Chechu Rubiera (Gijón, 37, professional for 16 years) with RadioShack and the other is Benjamín Noval (Mieres, 31, professional for 10 years) with Contador's Astana team. Both riders are analyzing next July’s confrontation for La Nueva España. Also helping Alberto in the mountains is Dani Navarro of Gijón.
The beginning of the season was very different. Noval explains that Contador "was wanting to win a big race like Paris-Nice and he did it. What’s more, also checking the strength of the team which was criticized by outsiders as not being able to keep him well-protected in France. We all gained confidence because he won in the Algarve, others were doing it in the Monte Eroica classic or Tirreno-Adriatico, and I’m sure that in July it will work even better."
Rubiera says of Armstrong that "in Murcia he wasn"t great, but because things are calmer for him and he also has a lot of commitments to his cancer foundation. But there are five months left and I’m sure he’ll arrive in good shape."
With respect to the Tour's parcours, Noval argues that "it has more mountains in the Alps and the Pyrenees and there"s no team time trial and only one individual time trial. So that benefits a climber, and Alberto is the best. The problem will be the first week leaving from Holland and with pavé, where the Tour is not won but could possibly be lost due to nerves, wind or a crash. There Armstrong has an advantage."
Rubiera comments that "the Tour is always hard due to the mountains and due the infernal pace that the riders set when they"re arriving at one hundred percent. In theory, not having a team time trial hurts Armstrong."
About the favorite, both agree on Contador. Noval says that "Alberto has, after all, won his last two Tours and because he"s the best at climbing. But there are also other rivals, like the Schleck brothers, Kreuziger, Nibali and Armstrong, together with his teammates Klöden and Leipheimer". Rubiera assures that "Contador is the best right now in stage races, but then there are race circumstances or strategies for winning without the strongest man, and my teammates have an advantage there".
The rivalry between the two champions has sparked a great deal of controversy and reams of comment. Rubiera manifests that "fortunately they’re not together and things are calmer on the teams, not the tension of last year. What the fans are waiting for now is the spectacular sport of seeing them face to face in the Tour. Now that Contador has switched races, they’ll meet at the Criterium International, but there won"t be that confrontation". Noval points out that "the summer duel sells a lot of papers. Contador already commented that he has no relationship with Lance, but now they do have mutual respect because they’re two great champions".
There are different perspectives on one star's ability to control the other. Noval says that "age is fundamental in cycling and Lance is getting up there (almost 39) and Alberto is young (27) and still improving. In the mountains is where Contador has a great advantage because he’s the best in the world and nobody can follow him. Armstrong has difficulty getting near him and, not only that, in the time trial he wasn't so strong last year. Quite a bit of improvement is needed by Lance and that's complicated, but with the American you can expect anything".
When asked how the other champion could overcome his boss, Noval fears "race strategy, because they have a great team and very experienced people, including Lance himself, for days on the pavé with the help of Rosseler, Steegmans or Rast when people are tense on dangerous roads. He also has lieutenants like Klöden and Leipheimer, able to win a Tour with an escape, but if Armstrong arrives in good shape it will be difficult for them to be given the freedom".
Chechu Rubiera is certain that "Contador is stronger in the mountains, he already proved it in the last Tour and, even though Lance was too, in his day, it will be difficult to follow him on the climbs. But Armstrong’s great virtue is his winning mentality which he forged by much work and great victories. If Lance arrives at the beginning convinced that he can win the Tour, he will be dangerous and Contador's going to have a very hard first week in the wind and on the pavé of the first stages due to the Dutch and Belgian roads".
9 March 2010
Rubiera is pleased with his performance in Murcia and will take part in the Tour of Basque Country
elcomerciodigital.com reports Chechu Rubiera, the veteran of the Asturian peloton, will change his initial race calendar. His director Johan Bruyneel told him he would take part in the Tour of Basque Country instead of the Circuit de la Sarthe as initially planned.
In this race, he will meet up with Asturians Samuel Sanchez, Luis Pasamontes, Dani Navarro and Benjamín Noval who are competing this week in the Paris-Nice multi-stage race.
The Gijón rider, who started his cycling season in Murcia together with the newcomer Higinio Fernandez, is happy "because we were at a good level, although Armstrong is still short of form, but his goal is the Tour in July".
28 February 2010
On the veteran’s wheel
Chechu Rubiera, the Asturian peloton’s veteran, and the novice Higinio Fernandez start the season in Murcia
Experience and youth. The most senior of the eleven Asturian riders in the peloton and the newcomer. One, 37 years old, the other, 21. In 2010, Chechu Rubiera will set a new Asturian record for seasons spent within the internationl peloton, which until now was held by Vicente López Carril with 15 (seasons).
Chechu and Higinio Fernandez are similar in various ways. Both started their careers with the best riders at 22, although the cyclist from Valdés will be a few months younger. Both took part in the Tour de l’Avenir before making the leap to the professionals, after getting excellent results in their last race in the amateur ranks.
Photograph © P. Ucha, elcomerciodigital.com
And the Radio Shack rider, like the Caja Rural one, will start this Wednesday in the Vuelta a Murcia.
El Comercio met both cyclists in Las Mestas, a place that evokes a lot of memories since it’s where they took part in many races when they began competing in less important categories. Chechu recommends "be patient during your first year. It’s when you should start learning what’s happening within the peloton", while the Valdés rider answers "I would like to have your experience with the professionals as well as your record".
The Gijón rider admits that "in my first years with Artiach, I had a hard time finishing the stages because, in those years, the peloton was riding at a high speed and one could not even see the winning sprinter raise his arms". In this respect, the rider from Canero (Valdés) laughs and admits "I still have a lot to do in order to see the leaders, but I prepare myself and get ready mentally for it".
The Gijón rider flatters the youngest Asturian, "You are in a good condition, and you showed it last year with your various victories in the most important amateur races, on top of participating in the Tour de l’Avenir and in the Junior World championship. This shows you have a good level".
Higinio, who carries a passion for the bike in his blood since his father competed in the now defunct amateur category, also got hooked on this gruelling sport "because of riders like Samu or Chechu, who are (good) examples as cyclists and people." He adds, "They and other Asturians are good role models to all us young riders. There are many of us - even more than the Basques who always used to be more numerous than us".
Despite their 15 years difference, Rubiera and Higinio will start the season in Murcia in only three days with lots of hope. And it’s not for nothing. Chechu has his mind turned towards the Vuelta a España where he will be able to take his leave in the stage which departs from his native Gijón and finishes on top of the summit which bears his name: "It will be very moving to say goodbye at home. It motivates me very much, and for this I hope to ride well in order to be in the best of condition next September".
For his part, the promising Valdés rider is conscious that in a few days he will be next to the world's best cyclists and confesses, "I still cannot believe it, but here I am. To have a champion like Armstrong or Menchov beside me is the greatest thing for me".
Higinio is part of the Spanish under-23 team, with which he will compete this year in the Nations Cup, adding to his 2009 participation in some of the most important international meetings.
Ir a elcomerciodigital.com
23 February 2010
The other triumph of Rubiera
The Gijón rider inspected the Coto Bello climb which will bear his name as a stage climax of the next Vuelta a España
Photograph © JE Cima, La Nueva España
Next Wednesday, Chechu Rubiera (Gijón, 1973) will commence his 16th season as a professional in the Vuelta a Murcia, which has made him a highly respected member of the peloton as well as outside the racing context.
From the help he gave to Lance Armstrong in five out of his seven Tour de France victories, to his personal victories in Giro stages (1998 and 2000), the Vuelta al Alentejo (1999 and 2000), the Naranco Climb (1998 and 2000), the Tour of Lake Quinghai in China (2007) or the Vuelta a Murcia (2008), Rubiera, 37, now achieves another special triumph: with the Coto Bello stage finish on September 13 in the next Vuelta a España, he is the first active cyclist who will have a summit bearing his name: the “Chechu Rubiera” peak.
LA NUEVA ESPAÑA accompanied Rubiera at midday last Tuesday to inspect the final part of this Vuelta queen stage, along the 10.3 kilometers of the final climb, with a slope close to 8,5%, and a 17% maximum grade.
The Gijón rider, with his new red-and-black Radio Shack jersey, led by Armstrong, made the ascent with a mix of agility and strength. In the end, when there were only 1,250 meters left to the summit (at an altitude of 1,195 meters) he had to stop because of the snow and the ice which prevented him from riding his bike anymore without running the risk of falling and injuring himself.
Photograph © JE Cima, La Nueva España
On this Aller mountain, that once was an opencast mine, Rubiera recognises that, "it’s a beautiful climb for cyclists and fans, because it’s hard and there is no respite. Also, it’s long, not the usual 20-minute Asturian ascent, except when it gets to the Meseta. I think it's a good test, similar to a good Tour or Giro summit final. I would compare it to the Alpe d’Huez difficulty (13 kilometers with 8.19%). The difference between that one or the Tourmalet, although of a similar gradient, is that they reach a higher altitude, and above 1,800 meters one lacks oxygen".
What the Gijón native states, with his usual modesty and sincerity, about the idea of giving his name to Coto Bello is that "it’s a matter that goes beyond me, because I am the only rider still in acitivity to be dedicated a summit, and there is an abyss between me and other champions like Coppi or Fuente who got one. This happened because of my friendship with the Aller cyclotourists. It’s a matter of pride and great joy for me".
On the other hand, talking about the stage between his native Gijón and the Coto Bello summit (179 kilometers), Chechu comments: "It will be the queen stage because, before the climax, the peloton will have to climb Cabruñana, San Lorenzo and Cobertoria, and the riders will arrive there exhausted. It’s a summit that will motivate the top class climbers, because they know that’s where they will be able to score important differences in the GC."
Ir a La Nueva España
12 January 2010
Chechu talks to Velonation about life as a veteran in the peloton in 2010.
On the bike sometimes you don't have a brain, you just have legs and power, and if the power is gone in a few k's, the rest of the stage can be a nightmare.
Go to Velonation