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10 May 2018

"A stamp of quality that’s more than proven"

José Antonio Hermida, Olympic medalist in Athens in 2004 and international mountain biking icon, returns to the La Rioja Bike Race presented by Shimano after getting on the podium in last year’s edition.

 

This will be your second time in the La Rioja Bike Race, how will you take on the race?

This year I’ll face it in a somewhat special way because I think of myself as "retired" and not as a professional. I enjoy this race a lot and, in this edition, I intend to compete in the general — same as last year, but I am aware that this year I’m a little behind in my preparation. Still, I am happy to be participating in the La Rioja Bike Race presented by Shimano, which is comprised of three intense days of trails. I’m also happy to be able to ride the routes designed by Carlos Coloma and his club.

 

La Rioja Bike Race presented by Shimano has broken all participation statistics, why do you think this is?

I think the success of La Rioja Bike Race presented by Shimano is due to a host of positive factors. Octagon’s stamp and its “Bike Race” brand are a hallmark of success demonstrated in Andalusia, La Rioja and the Gaes Catalunya Bike Race presented by Shimano. The environment also lends to success, both the routes and Logroño itself. What La Rioja offers beyond competition once we’re off the bike is an added value. The fact that it takes place in La Rioja, so close to the rest of the peninsula’s northern and eastern communities, is another added value since it attracts a lot of Catalans, Valencians, Madrileños and Basques. It is close to everyone and this is why I think it is success.

 

 

What would you highlight about the racecourse and the post-race ambience after scoring a podium finish in the last edition?

The route is quite special and very different from the rest of the races. There are stage sections with lots of single- and doubletrack, and what’s significant is that they complement each other very well. The sections are very dynamic and they alternate between each other; this is what I think characterizes the race.

In addition, having the start and finish located in the city center also makes the race much more enjoyable; the days are intense, but at the same time fun. You can compete with friends in the morning and then be able to go out with them in the afternoon in the center for a glass of wine, so that we have convivial days. Undoubtedly people do the race not only as competition, but also to take advantage of visiting a very attractive and hospitable city.

 

What do you like most about the event and what do you value in this type of race format?

I like the camaraderie that’s there. Octagon has managed to create an attractive product that allows you to face the stages with a more amateur attitude. The stages are well balanced and can be approached as "less professional," which makes it more real, more down-to-earth. I like the more relaxed atmosphere, and without a doubt, the La Rioja Bike Race presented by Shimano has just that.

 

What do you think differentiates La Rioja Bike Race from GAES Catalunya Bike Race presented by Shimano, in which — in addition to being a race ambassador — do you have increased involvement?

The only thing that differentiates the races is the elevation. GAES Catalunya Bike Race presented by Shimano takes place at 1,200 meters of elevation in a completely Pyrenean environment. La Rioja Bike Race presented by Shimano has a very agreeable, attractive and characteristic wine country ambience. At the organizational level the races are the same, and that’s something that’s very much appreciated. Octagon Esedos has created a standard — a benchmark of success, as is being demonstrated in all its MTB stage races. People know that they will find the same high standards and this is what attracts them.

 

This year we’ll celebrate the second edition of GAES Catalunya Bike Race presented by Shimano. What hopes do you have for this one?

After last year’s success, we are excited and encouraged. We are working on the stage routes with the aim to reveal them as soon as possible to motivate all who want to participate. We were very surprised by the success of the first edition, since we expected a positive outcome but perhaps not as much as there was. As we find ourselves out in front of a second edition, we are aware that the responsibility is much higher since there can be no excuses. There is more pressure, but we will try to manage expectations. Our intention is to improve the race at both the course layout and organizational level. We took note of small mistakes from last year and we will work to solve them for sure.

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