Joan Llordella gives us this interview having recently arrived from the Andalusia Bike Race. Discover first hand what the life of a professional cyclist is like, how he prepares physically and what the most spectacular races in the world are, amongst many other questions. We hope you enjoy it.
Where does your love for the Mountain Bike come from?
When I was little I was the typical active kid who always cycled around town. I also liked the mountains and took trips with my brother and the town hiking society, so when the first mountain bikes appeared for me it was the perfect combination, cycling and mountains.
At what age did you begin to compete and how were your first experiences on your mountain bike?
At 15-16 years old I competed in some town races as it was not easy to race outside. It was there in a junior category that I raced the Catalan cup with the Berga team.
Have you already began to compete with the new M9? What’s your opinion on it?
It’s a great bike, the measurements fit me perfectly and I like the geometry very much. Its reactions are fast given it’s a solid, light and reliable 29”. It comes equipped with light components but without taking too many risks as, in the type of races in which I compete, reliability is very important.
But now you have won the TransAndes Challenge, what other aims do you have for 2015?
I’ve just been in the Andalusia Bike Race, in May I will race in France in the Chemins du Soleil, in July the Sudety in Poland and in autumn one in the Himalayas. It’s possible I’ll take part in another in Ecuador although that is yet to be determined. I will also be in the day races which are closer to home.
Given the wheel size controversy, what do you think of 27.5” bikes? Do you think they will impose the 29” in competition?
I still haven’t tried the 27.5”, but I feel comfortable with the 29 and I see that they are the most used overall in marathon races.
Do you have a personal trainer or do you plan your own training? Tell us what it consists of.
At the moment I don’t have a trainer as I have spent many years in this world and I know it well. My preparation begins in November covering many kilometres with my road bike to accumulate hours and achieve a good base level. When there are good conditions I complement this with cross-country or mountain skiing. In January my training is shorter and more intense to get more race rhythm and from there I try to maintain a good shape for the rest of the year, varying quality training with intensity using both bikes, road and mountain.
Do you pay much attention to your diet throughout the year? And before each race?
I don’t pay too much attention to it, I eat everything but I tried not to use too many sauces… Before races I eat the typical… pasta or rice for dinner and toast and cereal for breakfast.
Would you be able to tell us around how many kilometres you cover in a year?
Around 8000km on road bike and 4000km on mountain bike.
Are there any races you really want to do that you haven’t participated in yet?
Luckily the one I wanted to do most was Cape Eric and I have raced it 3 years, but I think there are a lot of lovely races waiting for me!
How do you see the generational replacement of professional BTT in Spain?
It’s very bad, there’s very little participation in the younger categories. You only have to look at the lists, there’s much more senior participation than under 23’s.
Where will we see you when you retire from professional competition?
At cycling festivals stopped at the food stands eating butifarra sausage!
Apart from cycling, what other hobbies do you have?
Going out to eat with friends, going for beers, walking on the beach, skiing and travelling in the motor home.
In terms of landscape, which race have you participated in that impressed you the most?
Each has its strong points. The Transandes is incredible with jungles, volcanoes…Cape Epic as well with the special light in South Africa, the Breke Epic is impressive with peaks of more than 4000 metres. In all of them I’ve marvelled at the scenery and enjoyed myself!
Finally, you’ve just gone back to the Andalusia Bike Race, what assessment do you make of it?
In the Andalusia Bike Race there was an incredible skill level as there were many of the best teams in the world there. We already knew that if would be difficult to slip through amongst the first 10 but we tried to. It’s a shame that my team-mate, the Andalusian and ex professional Mountain Biker Antonio Ortiz, was ill in the first stages and we didn’t perform very well but from the fourth stage things improved and we finished the final stage in fourth position and twelfth overall.