ORBEA INSTAGRAM CHALLENGE 3: FINALISTS
21 February 2020
19 December 2019
Published by Orbea
It’s a story to remember.
March 14, 2008. Third stage of the Tyrrhenian-Adriatic between Gubbio and Montelupone, 195 km. In the early hours, a cyclist from Caisse d'Epargne packed a special backpack at his hotel. Shortly before departure, he handed it to his massage therapist with the following note: “Bring this spare backpack to the podium, which I will win today."
Needless to say, he won.
That cyclist was none other than world-class racer Joaquim Rodríguez, also known as "Purito,” and holder of an astonishing cycling record: 45 professional victories, including 14 wins in Grand Tours, two editions of the Volta a Catalunya, a Walloon Arrow, two editions of the Tour of Lombardy, a Tour of the Basque Country, two World Cup medals and more.
And as if that wasn’t enough, we’re excited to announce that Purito has joined the Orbea Factory Team. His legacy is only just beginning. Together with Ibon Zugasti, Tomi Misser and Sandra Jordá, he rounds out a team that promises to deliver incredible cycling moments in 2020.
The Orbea Factory Team is a big family comprised of a talented group of humans and an exceptional network of partners. With the support of Orca, SRAM, DT Swiss, Isostar and Maxxis, the team is sure to excel to the next level in 2020.
Pulling from his wealth of competitive experience, Purito will contribute his athletic talent in the purest way he knows best: simply, directly and effortlessly.
Are you a Purito fan? We most definitely are. That’s why we sat down to chat with him about his new era with the Orbea Factory Team and his deep passion for cycling.
First of all, welcome to the Orbea Factory Team! Could you tell us what motivated you to join the team?
Thank you very much. I am very happy with the decision I made. After 17 years as a professional, I wanted to take my cycling differently. I was looking for exactly what Orbea represents for me: to enjoy bikes with a level of ambition that supports personal improvement. From the outside, I saw stories and adventures coming from the Orbea team and felt a healthy envy. I wanted to be a part of that. Racing without the pressure of results at events like Cape Epic, La Purito, Titan Desert or Orea Monegros… I was looking for that versatility, and that’s why I’m here.
Races that, during your professional career, would have been impossible to attend…
Correct. When you’re a professional, you’re in a bubble and don’t consider these kind of events. You hear about them, but the teams don’t even allow them. I couldn’t imagine, for example, that I would complete a Cape Epic. When I share these experiences in my network, many professional cyclists send me messages saying, “How envious. What I’d give to retire and live that way.” And this is coming from athletes who aren’t even 25 years old.
What can fans expect who are keenly awaiting your next adventures?
I’m not interested in selling race results. For me, cycling is a passion, and that’s what I can sell. I find my passion in anything that has to do with a bike. I’m excited about the first MTB races of the year, and I have new adventures swirling around my head. If I weren’t in love with this sport and didn’t feel an excessive passion, I wouldn’t be able to do it. No way. I want to convey to people the love of cycling.
What’s your first impression with Orbea bikes?
At the moment, I’ve started taking rides on the Oiz and have been amazed at its response. It’s a super light bike that climbs very, very well. I am impressed how it ascends. I need to squeeze in more descents, but for now, I’m very surprised by this bike.
How is your relationship with the public, especially those on social media?
I have a natural relationship with them. I like my followers, but they don’t consume me. I am not an influencer or a guy who thrives on it. I am honest and transparent about what I want in every moment. With as many followers as I have, I’m not a slave to social media. I think people like that about me. I also don’t try to block anyone, and I own up to the criticisms that come my way. Social media isn’t a newscast.
You have always liked to stay current with the latest trends during your time as a professional cyclist…
As a professional, I consider myself a pioneer. We talk a lot about technologies, training plans, growth and strength, aerodynamics… But we already did these things 10 years ago. The difference is that they’re now general practices for everyone, whereas before, they were just for team leaders.
Let's talk about your initial years as a professional. You’ve returned to the Basque Country, where Orbea is rooted and where you lived during your time with the Iberdrola team.
I was lucky to live in the Basque Country and race with Iberdrola when I was 18-20 years old, before I debuted as a professional. I remember that time with a lot of love. It was the stage where I stopped being a kid. I learned to grow up: to separate myself from my parents, to travel, to meet new people, to manage myself… But I adapted wonderfully and made great friends that I still have today. During the first year, I lived in Ordizia (Gipuzkoa), in a house next to other kids. It was important to ride a bike and learn to enjoy life.
In your second year, things got a little more serious...
Yes. The second year was more serious. I saw what professionalism meant, and it influenced my career. I was committed to challenging the ONCE cycling team and participated in the Tour del Porvenir, among others.
You lived and breathed the Basque passion for cycling.
Of course. For any cyclist around the world, racing in the Basque Country is unforgettable. Having lived there, I feel part of the Basque cycling history. You don't find that level of passion anywhere else in the world. I was in love with the "Orange Tide." I raced with my team, but I had been a part of Euskaltel-Euskadi, so I was happy for their victories. It was amazing what they accomplished.
Who were your athlete influences at that time? Do you consider yourself a cycling role model?
I had idols, and I still have them. Of the current cyclists, I love Iván García Cortina. I am convinced that he will do some incredible Classics in the future. I also admire Peter Sagan, who loves biking and life and who always speaks to you like a friend.
And of the cyclists who are no longer racing?
I have always considered myself a Classic racer and, as someone passionate about these races, I admired Michele Bartoli, Paolo Bettini, Johan Museeuw and Pascal Richard. I still keep press clippings from when I won the Valenciaga Memorial (2000) with Iberdrola, where I said that my dream was to win Liege-Bastogne-Liege. Although I’ve been on the podium three times, not winning that race has been the only thorn in my sports career.
Time has since passed, but you're still completely hooked on cycling. That has not changed.
I have always enjoyed biking. It has never cost me to train or to be a cyclist. I have done it with tremendous pleasure. It's so fun and entertaining… Cycling helps me disconnect and even find myself. Most of my relationships in life are through cycling. My life revolves around the bike because cycling is constantly changing: there are so many more ways to be connected to this sport than just a few years ago.
What is cycling for you?
For me, cycling is a lifestyle that’s reflected even in what you wear. When I talk about cycling, I’m referring to both the casual cyclist who does 20 km after breakfast and the professional who trains six hours a day. I try to instill the passion for this sport into my own children. If they could enjoy half the amount of biking that I did, it would be amazing. Cycling is everything.
Eskerrik asko, Purito. Ongi etorri!
Thank you very much, Purito. Welcome!