David de la Cruz is hoping to continue his progression into 2019 after a season of discovery.
The Spanish stage racer joined Team Sky in 2018 and was quickly up to speed, securing stage wins at the Ruta del Sol and Paris-Nice respectively, before helping Chris Froome to victory in May as part of the team’s Giro d’Italia squad.
De La Cruz then headed to his home Grand Tour in a leadership role, eventually finishing 15th at the Vuelta a Espana – a race in which he admitted he learned a lot.
On targeting general classification on home roads, he said: “It was a good experience. I came to this team with the aim to ride good GCs in stage races and I learned a lot. When you come to Team Sky and you have the opportunity to ride for GC at a race like the Vuelta, on this type of team, there is a pressure which in the moment you don’t appreciate. But then once the race is over you look back, and I think in the moment the pressure was there. I didn’t realise but possibly it’s something which affected me. Sometimes the pressure effects your training or the time when you have to take care with the nutrition. You can go over your limits. I learned a lot about this. It’s good to do things well, but the gap between doing things properly and doing things at the very highest level means sometimes you can end up making things worse.
“It’s been a year that has shown me the way to work better. I didn’t get the results I expected, but I think in the future if I get the results I want to get it will be thanks to this season. In cycling most of the time you learn more from the bad experiences than the good ones. It’s been really interesting in that sense.”
David de la Cruz
If there’s one thing I would like to achieve this year it’s to try to win an overall GC in a one-week stage race.
Chasing more stage race success is high up on De La Cruz’s list of objectives for 2019, with a specific focus on one-week races.
He added: “If you don’t have goals it’s really difficult to find the motivation to give your best and to train hard. The first thing I always say is that I want to keep improving. It’s something which will forever be a goal, and every year you have to look at areas you can improve. It’s what makes you hungry to pursue your dreams. If there’s one thing I would like to achieve this year it’s to try to win an overall GC in a one-week stage race. In the past I’ve been close several times – fourth, third, second – and so this year I’m looking to do it. It’s the first step towards doing the GC in a big Tour – doing really well in a one-week race, and then once you’ve passed this test you can go into a big Tour with more confidence and have something in the pocket which makes you push to go for it.”
Progression has been evident for De La Cruz, with victory in the final time trial at Ruta del Sol particularly pleasing.
On his progress against the clock he explained: “It’s difficult to say in which area I improved the most because I’ve been working on many different aspects. But I’d say looking at the results last year it would probably be in the time trials. That’s thanks to the staff that we have on the team and the bikes that Pinarello provide for us. I think it’s one of the areas where I felt I made a step forward.
“When you change team sometimes it’s not really easy and there can be a lot of changes. But here I felt really comfortable and I found a family. I think I’ve learned a lot of things that will help me going into the new season. It’s important to see where you can improve – what you did well and what you did not so well – and it’s been a year where I learned a lot. Sometimes I got results I didn’t expect, but I’m really looking forward to 2019 and making those improvements.”