Joxean Matxin: “Sacha Modolo can win Milan-Sanremo”
This season, in the team ranking, Lampre-Merida lies fourth, with seven wins in as many races (Tour Down Under, Tour de San Luis, Trofeo Palma, Trofeo Ses Salines, Volta ao Algarve, Trofeo Laigueglia, and Gran Premio di Camaiore), brought by Diego Ulissi, Sacha Modolo, and Jose Serpa.
Unlike last season, the team enjoyed a perfect start and all of its riders seem to have found their form very early. If January and February weren’t so important in terms of pressure, March will bring the first important tests for Lampre-Merida, but Joxean Matxin, the sports director of the blue-fucsia team, is very confident in his riders.
– Mister Matxin, Lampre-Merida had an impressive start this season. Were you surprised by the number of wins?
To be honest, I knew we will have a strong start, but we did not expect to get so many wins, we have not even thought about it.
– Sacha Modolo brought the most wins so far, four. Is he one of the best sprinters in the world now?
Yes, he can get there, and I firmly believe that Sacha will soon be at the same level as Mark Cavendish, Marcel Kittel, and André Greipel. Therefore, I see him capable of winning Milan-Sanremo this year.
– What are the goals of the team for Paris-Nice?
We have Rui Costa there and this means we are thinking only of winning it. I don’t expect for the rainbow jersey to bring extra pressure on him, but to have a positive impact on his ride. Although Rui is one of the contenders, we are aware that there are other important cyclists and we should respect them. Anyway, the big favourite is Vincenzo Nibali.
– And for Tirreno-Adriatico?
Same goals as in Paris-Nice, the team always competes to win, and if we don’t get the win, that’s just because someone else was better, not because we didn’t do everything. We’ll have Chris Horner in Tirreno and his form at the moment is ok. Certainly, this is not the best Horner, however, he will improve step by step and get at the highest level.
– What expectations do you have when it comes to Filippo Pozzato and Diego Ulissi, two of the team’s leaders?
Pozzato was in Roma Maxima and did a good job. He worked hard in the winter, is a very talented rider and I’m sure he’ll have a good season. As for Ulissi, he will make some important progress in 2014 and will become one of the best riders in the world. I have complete faith in him, not only because he’s a strong and very intelligent rider, but also a kind person.
– The team also has many talented young riders. Who should we watch closely for this season?
Jan Polanc, Mattia Cattaneo, and Luca Wackermann. Pay attention to them.