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"For 2015 there are some interesting route, especially in the Tour de France which is the biggest race and our main goal," he said. "We will see if we can win a stage. Everybody ants to win on the Mur de Huy."

Photo: Katusha / Tim de Waele


17.12.2014 @ 09:00 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

After an excellent 2013 season, much was expected from Daniel Moreno but like his team leader Joaquim Rodriguez, he had a complicated season. Now he hopes to bounce back in 2015 where he targets the win on the Mur de Huy in Fleche Wallonne and the Tour de France


In almost every photo of Joaquim Rodriguez, Daniel Moreno appears at his side. The latter is both an excellent teamplayer and ready to grab his own opportunities when the leaders fades. The pair have gained lots of respect, with Moreno often making a final acceleration that sets the scene for Rodriguez' final attacks.


However, 2014 was a bad season for both. Rodriguez suffered several crashes and Moreno was unable to step into the role of team leader in the way he has done so often in the past. He was second in the Vuelta a Burgos behind Nairo Quintana and in a stage of the Vuelta a Espana on the day he turned 33. He was 9th in the Amstel Gold Rae and finished in the top 10 in both Fleche Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege. Nonetheless, he was unable to live up to his performances from 2013 when he won Fleche Wallonne and two stage of the Vuelta. Now he has set his sights on more wins on the Mur de Huy and the 2016 Rio Olympics.


Going into 2014, Katusha made it clear that they wanted Moreno to be a leader in more races. However, he still shadowed Rodriguez closely and things are not set to change in 2015.


"It will be more or less as in previous years but in 2014 things were a bit different due to Purito's crashes," he told Ciclo21 in an interview. "Personally, I know what I did wrong but even if things go well, I won't get anywhere if you don't have any kind of luck.




"I lacked a win. I had a chance in the first week of the Giro d'Italia and in the Vuelta a Espana I was second on my birthday. In Milan-Turn, [teammate Giampaolo] Caruso won on a day when I was good enough to win. But we work for the team and we just want to win with any one of our riders."


Next year Rodriguez has made it clear that he will focus on the Tour de France which has a mountainous course. Hence, Moreno will also focus on the French grand ours.


"For 2015 there are some interesting routes, especially in the Tour de France which is the biggest race and our main goal," he said. "We will see if we can win a stage. Everybody ants to win on the Mur de Huy. This year we will get to ride than final and we must try to grab that chance. I have often been good in Tirreno-Adriatico if the wather is good byt in cold and snow I am already eliminated. And then we have Catalunya which Purito really likes and I want to be at his side to support him as much as possible. And in the classics, I can always have my chance."


Asked about the possibility of winning on the Mur de Huy both at the Tour de France and Fleche Wallonne, Moreno admits that the thought has passed his mind.




"That would indeed be a dream," he said.



Moreno is looking forward to his return to the Tour de France.


"It's going to a very close battle," he said. "It is wide open. The Frenchmen will start with big hopes after what they have done this year but I don't see them as candidates for victory. I don't think they can repeat last year's podium. The crashes of the great riders gave them an advantage, they arrived in good shape and they did a good race."


On paper, Rodriguez and Moreno are not favoured by the cobbles but Moreno refuses that it will be a big problem.


"I am not unhappy about them," he said. "It's a new experience. If there no rain and mud as they had this year, it will be less technical but int the 2010, things didn't go well for Purito or me. If one is good, things will be good everywhere."




Moreno has already largely defined his schedule.


"It will be more or less as usual," he said. "I will follow Purito except for a few races like in the beginning when I will be in San Luis in Argentina and will do the Tour de Mediteraneen if it goes on as planned. Then I will ride with Purito in Tirreno, Catalunya, the classics and for the rest of they year."


Moreno is pleased with his role as Rodriguez' lieutenant.


"Like every good champion, Purito knows how to support his team in every race," he said. "He is actually a great leader. He has not changed much but it has been a year of bad luck. We all want to win and when it fails, it is hard. In our first year, we got 17 wins between the two of us. In 2014 we only won twice in the Volta a Catalunya. So it was very complicated. We were really good in the classics, also with Causo. I am sure that we would have made the top 10 and had three riders fighting for the victory. And it is not the same to ride without Purito."




Moreno is not considering the option of leaving his leader.


"Today I am not thing about it," he said. "If I get an offer, I would think about but my main goal is to continue with Purito and my other teammates. And I want to continue with Katusha because I feel super good and we all know each other. I hope we will have a good year and continue together. In the end, we have come so far because we feel like a family."


Moreno expects Katusha to be stronger in 2015.


"What has changed is that the young Russian riders now have more experience which is a key point in the races," he said. "The classics team may have changed a bit but our part of the team is almost the same."


Moreno has not only been a key rider at Katusha. He was also an important domestique at the Worlds on home soil in Ponferrada where he tried to follow eventual winner Michal Kwiatkowski.


"I led the peloton and the truth is that Kwiatkowski risked a lot in the descent," he said. "I couldn't follow him as I was afraid to crash. I looked back and saw that I had no teammate with me. That's when I made the last effort. If I had had a teammate with me, we would have caught Kwiatkowski. I do not regret anyhing because I did well. The winner was the strongest and the smartest and he was able to stay away. He put on a great show.


"We went to the race to work for a leader and that's what we did. If I had been given the freedom, I would have given it a go but in the final lap that was not the case. We played Alejandro Valverde's card. Of course I would have liked to take the initiative and take my own chance in the penultimate lap but in the end I had to work. If you don't follow the scripts and make your own attacks, you won't be a part of the Spanish team and the Worlds again. If we had played more cards, we would have had more oprtions. And if he had had three leaders in the final lap instead of one, our chances would have been better."






In recent year, Spain has been dominating the WorldTour but the main riders of the country are all approaching their retirement. Moreno is part of the golden generation and admits that the future may not be quite as bright.



"It is sad because we don't have may teams," he said. "We have more races at the amateur level than we have for juniors or elite riders. And they only do 100 or 120km. Imagine what happens when they ride against the pros. Perhaps Ion Izagirre now has the brightest future but the fact is that there are not many young riders and the transition will be complicated. For now, we enjoy where we are right now."



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