Spanish national coach Paco Antequera gets the backing of a trio of Spanish stars as he tries to han
PICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE Key members of Spain’s pro road cycling fraternity have voiced their support for Spanish national selector Paco Antequera, who seems set to lose that position as a result of political manoeuvring within the Spanish federation. Current world champion Oscar Freire, 2003 world champion Igor Astarloa and top stage racer Paco Mancebo have all said they would like to see Antequera stay in his post. Speaking to AS, Astarloa commented “I suppose it is a political decision, because from the sporting point of view Antequera’s results have been incredible. I wouldn’t like to see him go, and I hope they will reconsider their position. They will say that it’s us cyclists who win the medals, but it is also true that Antequera sends us out with a plan that is very clearly defined. That is an important factor that not many other teams can say they have.” Current champion Freire is of much the same mind. “Without Antequera I wouldn’t have won my three world titles. I hope they can reach a solution so that he can continue. I’m not just looking at this from my point of view, it’s more that the team has worked better with him than it ever did before.” Mancebo too urged the federation to work out a compromise deal. “When I ride for the national team I forget my own ambitions and work for others, that’s the condition that Antequera imposes on you. Anyone who doesn’t understand that doesn’t ride, anyone who doesn’t fit in doesn’t come back. We are a team and all of us view our team-mates’ successes as our own.” Antequera backed the losing candidate in the recent presidential elections at the Spanish federation, and the contractual deal Antequera agreed with the former president just before those elections has been questioned by the winning candidate, Fulgencio Sanchez. Former Coast and Mapei directeur sportif Juan Fernandez has been linked with Antequera’s job. However, there are indications that there might be a way back for Antequera. Three other members of the Spanish management team have been given new contracts by the new regime after agreeing to renegotiate those signed just two months ago. The federation has asked Antequera to take the same path, but unconditionally. Antequera says he is willing to talk but not to sign away all of his rights. “I would lose eight years of my pension and there would be no guarantee that they might not just cut my salary in half,” he said.