Paco Watch part two.
Francisco Mancebo (5 Hour Energy) is out of the furnace after the first two stages and now finds himself in fourth position in the GC battle at the Tour of California.
The Spaniard is only 8 seconds behind Michael Rogers (Saxo-Tinkoff) and 51 seconds from Tejay Van Garderen. He has a deficit of 1:05 to the leader of the race, Javier Acevedo who remains a wildcard contender.
After stage four in Santa Barbara, we talked with 5 Hour Energy DS Frankie Andreu about Mancebo’s podium chances in a race without previous winners Chris Horner, Robert Gesink and Levi Leipheimer.
TS: We’re at the end of stage 4. Where does Paco stand right now?
FA: He wanted to finish in the top ten. With his form and the way he’s going, maybe top five. He’s a time trailer, a good climber. We have Mt. Diablo which is tough. It’s gonna come down to those two days.
TS: Do you guys have the fire power to get Mancebo onto the podium?
FA: He’s riding good and it’s not only him. Nate English is riding well, Max Jenkins is riding really good. So I have three climbers. We’re going for the podium for sure.
TS: Has Paco seen the TT course?
FA: Yes, the guys know the course — which is an advantage for us. The flat part is good, the uphill is good for him. Obviously there are other good time trialists around. Tejay is number one, Acevedo will lose time, Rogers is also good. For Mancebo, the place he can make up time is in the time trial.
TS: Mancebo said he was in “agony” at the finish on Tram Road in stage two. How is his recovery?
FA: His recovery has been fine. We’re fueling him and he says he feels good. Stage two was brutal on everybody but at the same time he said it was an easy race because he just rode along and rode along, then sprinted up a 4 miles climb. The heat just tore everybody up.
TS: I’ve read that Mancebo re-dedicated himself to training. Can you give me some specifics?
FA: He used to go out and ride for five hours to get fit. Now he does intervals, he has a coach with specific things to do, so that’s bringing in some intensity. That’s what you need to do. As far as his diet, he showed up skinnier than he’s been in the past.
TS: This feels like Mancebo’s last shot at getting back to Europe …
FA: He’s motivated to win here in the US and motivated to get back to Europe and the big stage.