“I am looking forward to it” tweeted the young Eritrean sensational rider, Merhawi Kudus, sharing a link of his team on regarding Vuelta a España 2017. His extensive preparations for Vuelta are now over and we’ll see how Merhawi will perform in package of several climbs. Mehawi says he didn’t participate in Tour de France and in Giro D’Italia so that he could fully focus on Vuelta.
We talk to him today to celebrate his standing on the start line of Vuelta a España for the third time. Vuelta 2017 will proceed with a team time trial in Nimes, France, today, Saturday the 19th of August and will conclude in Madrid, September the 10th. Tour de France
The Eritrean climber has for long been the youngest rider of his team, now gloriously advancing forward. Kudus, a graduate of the UCI’s World Cycling Center Academy, will talk to us about his pedals of the past two years too.
- -Are you excited for Vuelta?
Of course, I am excited. I like challenging myself every time I race. Therefore, prior to every grand tour I train and prepare myself in every aspect. But most importantly I have routines that help me build a strong mindset. Besides techniques peculiar to the game, cycling is about strategies.
I can confidently say that the good records I set for myself in Burgos and Tour of Oman are boasting my poise for Vuelta 2017. I like to challenge myself and race based on strategies that the team lays out for each game. So to answer your question, am I excited? …Yes, as always.
- -Can you say something about Vuelta a España 2017?
This is the final Grand Tour of the season. This years’ Vuelta has several summit finishes, the Angliru being one of them. There will be a lot of climbing, and that is a definite plus for me. I think the ascents will start early, so there is a chance for me to perform well since the beginning. If I am not mistaken the climbs will begin in Stage 3 traversing Andorra up to the route to Cataluya on stage 4. The hardest climb, however, is arranged for the end of the second week when the race will head to Sierra Nevada. All in all this year’s Vuelta will be an intriguing game that’ll see the participation of amazing riders from different teams. Moreover, the pack of routes are well studied; in fact, each category will see several riders shine based on what they specialize in. Like I explained before I am excited about the climbs; therefore, I am hoping and aiming for stage wins.
- -Do you remember how you felt during your first Vuelta?
How can I ever forget? It was my first grand tour. Back then our team was not continental yet; I was riding for MTN-Qhuebeka. The joy I felt to ride in my first grand tour ever is incomparable to anything. I was happy with my prior trainings, my form and, most of all, I was confident. Back then, too, there were multiple opportunities for me to excel in the climbs. Nevertheless, I haven’t had any races exceeding 10 racing days before that. So I can say that I was feeling a bit nervous but confident too.
It was memorable also for the reason that MTN-Qhuebeka was the first African registered team to ride in a grand tour. My team had five debutants besides me, including African national champion, Luis Meintjes, Geral Ciolek, Sergio Pardilla and more.
- -How is your team looking like for this year’s Vuelta?
Pretty strong. Mark Cavendish, one of our best, unfortunately won’t be able to join us because of his injury. But other than that my team mates are in good shape. The Vuelta is normally packed with a lot of climbing so there will be a lot of Dimention Data’s climbers. I am sure several stage wins will be registered by my teammates.
- -A lot has happened since we talked to you last time
I think so. So much in fact. I think I talked to you right after Tour de France 2015. I should remember the fact that it was a successful debut, with Daniel Teklehaimanot being the first African to ever wear a polka-dot mountains for four days!
- -Can you share some memories?
I rode amongst Rui Costa, Fabio Aru and Romain Bardet in the Tour of Oman. I remember how I first wore white jersey. Before I turned 24 I raced in three grand tours: twice in Vuelta. I also remember how I got second behind Nairo Quintana in the Valencia Mountain. The best memory though was when MTN got promoted to World Tour level in 2016; now we’re racing as Dimention Data and the story goes on beautifully.
What else can I possibly say? … Every moment of my career is memorable. This is what I wanted to do since I was young. This was my dream, so if we speak of sharing memories then I’d rather write a memoire and be sure to mention everything I went through and everyone I came across since day one until I become a rider for a continental team. I knew if I worked hard I would get here. I mean from 2012 up to now so much has happened. I owe it to my first pedals back at home.
- -Anything you want to say at the end?
Good luck to my team. Greetings for many wins ahead!
- -Thank you and good luck Merhawi.