Steve Thomas: Your off-season is very short, around two months annually out of competition in all. What do you do in that down time, and how about cross training at this time?
Yukiya Arashiro: I stay in Japan, I do some events (corporate, not competitive). I sometimes ride the bike for leisure, but not for training. As for cross training, I don’t do any. I just do some stretching and maybe massage after hard rides.
ST: Originally you’re from Okinawa, Japan’s tropical island; why not train there in the off-season?
YA: Now it’s the rainy season there, and every day it’s really wet and I just do not want to sit there looking out of the window.
For me Thailand is the best pace to train. I can train in cold weather (back home in France), but only for a month. I cannot recover after riding in the cold, so it’s not possible to train hard. I tried, but after three weeks my condition goes down. So I try to come to Thailand (even during mid season down times).
Usually I stay here until February and then I go to start racing in Europe, with the Majorca Challenge. This is hard for me; so then I try to come back to Thailand before going to back Tirreno Adriatico.
ST: There are a growing number of Middle Eastern sponsors in the sport now from countries with little or no cycling culture. It it just business or is there a sense of cycling passion with Bahrain Merida?
YA: Bahrain is passionate... maybe it’s business too, but I think more riders are coming to the Bahrain team. The Prince (team owner, Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa) is passionate about sports. He rides a bike, does triathlon and likes all sports. At the team presentation the Prince said he wanted a Bahrain rider to join the team. Maybe with the UAE team also - there is a passion for cycling there (in the United Arab Emirates).
ST: What is it like to ride with Vincenzo Nibali?
YA: I’ve never ridden (raced) with him. His schedule was the Giro & Vuelta, and mine the Tour de France, so never – just on training camps.
ST: A couple of days ago you had a cough, and suffer from asthma, what are your thoughts on the Froome situation?
YA: I’d been in Japan, where it was very cold, then I came here where it’s very hot, and then there were some rainy days, so I had a cough (from the asthma) for a few days, and also had to use an inhaler a few days ago. It’s cleared now and doesn’t happen often – it just comes at times, and I don’t really know what exactly causes it.
Froome, he’s a special kind of champion. He won the Tour de France, and then the Vuelta, He’s been careful every day, one hundred per cent he controlled every day; so why a problem like this? Same problem as Wiggins, no? It’s bad news, for cycling.
This product though, Salbutamol, I can tell you that it’s not for improving performance. When he doesn’t use maybe he can win, not when he does. It’s not the same as EPO; with this, the condition doesn’t change.
ST: It was recently alleged that some riders used hidden motors in the 2015 Tour de France, what are your thoughts on this, and do you think it happens?
YA: I think not. I don’t know, maybe for the riders at the front it’s possible; but at the back no (laughing).
ST: How does riding the Tour Down Under so early in the season impact on your season?
YA: For me, coming to Thailand is the best preparation. The (pre Tour Down Under) training camp with the team is normally two weeks (in Australia), but I say it’s not possible for me. I asked the team manager and agreed just for one week, and then I come back here.
It’s good training on the team camps. Every day is hard, and with full support. There are team cars at the top of the climbs, there are jackets and things handed up; but that’s too stressed for me.
Every morning it’s 7am wake up, and then after dinner it’s team meetings, doctors, and sponsors – it’s not easy (for me).