Vuelta a Espaņa - Cobo rises out of depression

Mon, 12 Sep 18:16:00 2011

Juan Jose Cobo overcame all his challengers to win his country's top cycle race, the Tour of Spain, but his biggest battle over the last two years has been fought off the bike.

2011 Vuelta Juan Jose Cobo - 0

Cobo suffered from an 18-month period of depression in 2010 and the first half of 2011 which led him to consider quitting the sport.

"When he told me he wanted to quit, it wasn't the first time," Cobo's team director with Geox, Joxean Fernandez, told Spanish sports daily MARCA.

"I told him he should go on racing till the end of the season but without any pressure for results, just for his own enjoyment."

"And little by little we turned things round."

The 30-year-old pro has taken big victories in the past, including a Tour of Spain stage in 2009, when he finished 10th, and the overall 2007 Tour of the Basque Country.

Cobo also netted a Tour de France stage win in 2008, after team mate Leonardo Pieopoli of Italy, who took the victory, later tested positive for a banned drug.

But in other periods, like 2010, Cobo's form deserted him.

"Cobo is the kind of athlete who needs a lot of self-motivation," Fernandez added.

"If he doesn't appreciate what you're telling him and exactly why, it's useless.

"That's why he can go from being a great rider to sitting in his bedroom looking at the four walls and refusing to race."

A gifted all-rounder, Cobo's victory in the amateur Spanish national time trials opened the door to professional racing in 2004.

However, in his first season he abandoned in race after race, including the Spanish national time trials after his motivation wavered badly mid-race.

The first rider from his home region of Cantabria ever to win the Tour of Spain, Cobo says he hopes his inconsistent results will come to an end.

"I've learned from my bad experiences that I have to be more relaxed," Cobo said.

"Not putting myself under pressure and not thinking I could win actually makes me more successful."

"Hopefully, this first really big win in my career will give me the consistency I've so badly lacked in the past."

Reuters

Not already a Yahoo! user ? to get a free Yahoo! Account