CyclingPub Feature: Jhonatan Restrepo ready to build on experience
Dec 07 2016 12:37 pm CET

CyclingPub Feature: Jhonatan Restrepo ready to build on experience

The 2017 season will only be the second complete year for Jhonatan Restrepo in Europe. Nevertheless, the experience earned so far will already make a difference for the Colombian.

The man from Pácora, Colombia, joined Katusha as a stagiaire in 2015 and became a regular member of the team for 2016. After spending some time with his family in his home country, Restrepo returned to find a completely different team.

"It is so international now. A year ago it was half Russian so it was very different. The way of talking changed a lot now. The people talk more because we're more in touch. It's pleasant. My own mentality has changed as well. Last year I arrived wanting to surprise, to work for the team. Now I want to focus a little more on myself and work on what was missing this year."

The distance isn't an issue

The 22-year-old has never really struggled with the distance, he explains to the few journalists interviewing him ahead of the Katusha team presentation in Benidorm.

"I has been easy for me. When I was 15 I left my small town to train elsewhere and take part in races. From early on I was used to being alone so I have learned to deal with the distance.

"It's hard when I'm away from Colombia for three or four months because you miss that environment, the tranquility of walking around in your town. In Europe I can't do that because you just wake up and you train all day. You don't get to know anyone. But normally I do like Europe and I'm happy to be here."
Text continues below the photo.

Jhonatan Restrepo
Photo by Mary Cárdenas / CyclingPub.com

Weight loss is the key

Throughout the conversation, one topic keeps popping up and appears to be a principal objective for the Colombian: Weight loss. Just four kilo's would do the trick, he believes.

"This year it was a bit difficult because I didn't know the way of racing and eating here in Europe. I'm fine when I'm at high altitude in Colombia but I had to learn to take care of myself in Europe.

"It's hard to maintain a good weight. But now a year has passed and I gained a lot of experience. I want to lose a little more weight. I don't know if I'd be suitable for the Grand Tours. I'd prefer to be a type for mid-range climbs where you arrive with 30 or so riders but very few decent sprinters."

Asked whether the weight cost him a potential victory in the recent Vuelta a España, when he formed part of a breakaway in a stage eventually won by teammate Sergey Lagutin, he admits to be wondering the same.

"I'm still thinking about that too. Some days I go out to train and I keep wondering whether those four kilo's cost me the victory. But maybe I wouldn't have been in the breakaway then as it went really fast on the flat. I can't keep thinking about it. But that day I showed to myself that if I lose a bit more weight I can do great things."
Text continues below the photo.

Jhonatan Restrepo
Photo by Mary Cárdenas / CyclingPub.com

Colombians impress the world

The 2016 season was special for Colombia, with Nairo Quintana providing the crown on a great year by winning the Vuelta a España in September. This means a lot to the way people may look at the country, Restrepo believes. "I think it has changed the way people think a lot: That we're a good people, a good country. We produce good athletes. It really helped the country."

Looking at his compatriots, Restrepo shows respect while at the same time revealing his own ambitions. "It's impressive what Nairo [Quintana], Esteban [Chaves] and Rigo[berto Uran] have done. They set the bar very high. Fernando [Gaviria] has already done good things as well and I want to be near that level too. I don't put a lot of pressure on myself because I'm young but I want to show what I'm here for."

It doesn't bother the rider that the Colombian press focuses mostly on the big names. "No, because they have already won. It's logical that the press looks at people that have already earned their reputation. That really can't bother anyone. When you race and win, you have the right to be looked at more by the press."

Plans for the spring season

As for his plans for the start of the season, Restrepo has a clear plan: "I will return to Murcia and Almeria. I am going to Abu Dhabi, Catalonia and Basque Country and if I feel good there I may go to the Ardennes classics. If not, I reckon I will go back to Colombia."

By Jonathan Roorda
Photo of Jhonatan Restrepo by Mary Cárdenas / CyclingPub.com





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