Escobar looking good on road

Second place in last weekend's Almeria Classic was a good start to world pursuit champ Sergi Escobar

Second place in last weekend's Almeria Classic was a good start to world pursuit champ Sergi Escobar
PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM Judging by his second place finish behind Illes Balears team-mate Ivan Gutierrez in last Sunday's rain-swept Almeria Classic, world individual pursuit champion Sergi Escobar has made a good fist of the difficult transition from track to road. Escobar, who took the bronze medal in the pursuit at the Olympics last year behind Bradleys Wiggins and McGee, is hoping to emulate both of these riders and Chris Boarmdan before them by establishing himself as a world class pursuiter who switched successfully to the road. Unlike Wiggins, McGee and Boardman, however, Escobar is making the switch late in his career. Having only taken up cycling at the age of 21, he became world champion last year at 29, and is now a first-year pro at 30. Illes Balears team manager Eusebio Unzue calls him "a young veteran", but despite his years Escobar reckons he can ride at the top level on the road for perhaps five or six seasons if he can establish himself properly. In an interview with AS, Escobar revealed how he had long dreamed of riding as a pro on the road. He was a member of the Barcelona elite level team last year, and during the Tour of Catalonia he handed his card out to a number of the team managers, telling them simply: "Look, I'm the world pursuit champion and this is my number." Unzue was one who called him, and Illes Balears' offer was the best, allowing Escobar to gain experience on the road but maintain his track commitments up to the 2008 Olympics. "My goal as a professional is to win the prologue in a major tour, but I want to take things slowly," he told AS. "First I want to adapt to the racing. If I achieve something, then I will look to take another step forwards. The result in Almeria was a good start, a morale boost." That prologue aim could be achieved at the Giro, which Escobar is slated to ride. But before then there is the small matter of this week's Tour of Murcia, then a training camp in Mexico to prepare himself for the Los Angeles World Track Champs later this month, where he will be defending his pursuit crown. He was hoping to take part in the team pursuit as well, where Spain won the bronze medal last year. But a bureaucratic error has forced a radical rethink in Spain's preparation for Los Angeles. In order to field their full complement of riders at the Worlds, Spain and other nations had to take part in all four legs of the recent World Cup. For some, as yet unexplained, reason, Spain missed the final leg in Sydney. Consequently, they have only three places guaranteed in addition to Escobar instead of 13. "We look stupid," said Escobar of the mistake. "We have been working a year for this. I have lost half of my objectives, but my team-mates have lost all of theirs. We are still waiting for an official explanation."
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