Pez: Into the last week now…
Magnus: Yeah, it’s make or break for the GC guys – the next three days are very hard and for riders like me these stages will decide whether or not we get to Madrid.
Pez: How do you feel about your form in the last few stages?
Magnus: I was happy with how I went in the time trial on Saturday, I was strong on the flat but found the climb hard.
In the sprint stage yesterday it was a bit of a messy finish, the barrier placement wasn’t good and there were guys desperate to do something in this Vuelta.
It was their last chance and some were taking what I feel were unacceptable risks – Forster performs well in finishes like that where there is a lot of ducking and diving and switching from one side to the other.
Pez: Was it one hour plus a few movies today?
Magnus: I did just over an hour and bought some movies on DVD – ‘Training Day’, ‘Be Cool’ and ‘Remember the Titans’.
I must have about one hundred films at home now.
It’s not good watching movies on TV in Spain and France because so many of them are dubbed which takes away from the experience.
Pez: Are you an i-pod guy?
Magnus: I’m, actually a Sony fan so it’s MP 3; I have around 30 gig of music on there which gives me a really wide variety.
Pez: Do you read much on a big tour?
Magnus: Not so much, although I do read a lot of technical stuff about bikes I find that I have to concentrate too hard.
Swedish is my native tongue, but English is my first language now so it’s hard to get in the groove in a language and just sit and read for leisure.
Pez: Valverde is looking good.
Magnus: Definitely, I didn’t expect him to ride such a good time trial.
I expected him to loose time to Vinokourov but he didn’t.
I don’t think that his rivals can take enough time from him in the mountains to stop him from going all the way to Madrid in the jersey.
Pez: Millar is back with a bang.
Magnus: It’s good to see him back and it was a great performance, sometimes you need those hundredths to go your way (referring to Millar’s split-second time trial win over Swiss, CSC rider Cancellara)
I was talking to him after his win and he was well chuffed.
I think that he has grown as a rider and as a person; look at the way he has worked for the team, the ‘old’ David wasn’t very good at that type of thing.
Pez: What’s the take in the peloton on the Astana guys missing that blood test?
Magnus: The way I understand it, the UCI testers arrived after Vino and Kashechkin had left for the stage start in the team bus and after the cut-off time for testing.
I think it was around 80 kilometres to the start from the team hotel so it was at least an hour’s drive.
I believe that if the bus had turned round and the testing had gone ahead then the stage start would have to have been postponed.
I have mixed feelings – on the one hand maybe they should have turned the bus around and let them be tested because of the rumours and innuendo that have surrounded the sport since the Tour.
But on the other hand the testers should have been organised and had their timings sorted-out.
Pez: The Vuelta is your last race in 2006, isn’t that a waste of good form?
Magnus: In a way it is and I have been feeling better and better during this race, but it has been a heavy season.
It’s been a fight all year – first to come back from injury; then to get fit for and go as far as I could in the Tour and finally to get form for the Vuelta.
So whilst I’m in good shape physically, mentally I’m ready for a rest.
Pez: If I was Magnus Backstedt I’d be thinking about that boulevard sprint in Madrid on Sunday, isn’t it just right for you?
Magnus: I am thinking about it, but I’ve got to get through the next three days – they are really tough and I have to take them a day at a time.
If I get through the mountains I’ll be focussing on the Madrid stage for sure.
We’ll be talking to Magnus again the day after the Vuelta.