“It was very nice to find such an instant affirmative response among the riders”
A few days ago the EOLO-KOMETA Cycling Team had closed its first ProTeam project and the general manager of the structure Francisco Javier Contador (Madrid, 1979) made a small balance of the project’s evolution after these intense weeks of announcements and confirmations.
With the arrivals of Lorenzo Fortunato, Francesco Gavazzi and Luka Wackermann the 2021 team is complete. Are you Satisfied?
Very satisfied! It has been an intense work. First, before this spiral of transfers, to shape the project from the point of view of sponsors and supporters. But we were already working on a few guidelines and we had a very clear idea when it came to putting together the team. It’s true that one thing is the approach and another very different thing is its execution. Fortunately we were able to sign all the riders we wanted to sign. It has been very pleasant to find such an immediate affirmative response among the riders, especially because we are newcomers to the category. But the work done these three years has also been noted in the sense that we have been taken into consideration. That we are a reality, come on.
Something that has remained in the inkwell?
No, not really. In recent weeks there has been speculation about some names that we really have no idea why, since they have never been on the table. The project has entered the game of the transfer market, but not intentionally. It has been given to us. As if you are tagged on a social network and you don’t know why. For this first season, we wanted to start with a team of twenty riders. In this sense, if it had been possible, we would have liked to be able to count on some more cyclists or even promote some more cyclists from the U23 structure, not just Arturo Grávalos. But this is a long-distance project and there will be opportunities later on.
In the face of this first continental adventure, the Italian thing is gaining a lot of weight…
It was an unavoidable burden. We have always been very clear about this, both with the change of nationality in the licence and the need to have a very Italian, but not exclusively Italian, calendar, due to the very nature of our sponsors and their commercial interests. We owe it to our sponsors that the one who believes in the project and trusts it also has the power to decide. But beyond that, I also don’t like to talk about a project from here, there or other place. In the end, among the elite, there are projects within a global sport, a sport with an increasingly universal vocation. We have had a Spanish license for three years, now we are going to have an Italian one and if the case arises, we could have one in Switzerland, in Hungary, in Andorra…
Hence the policy of reinforcements? In the end, ten Italian cyclists joined…
In my view, the idea should not be just that. Ten Italian cyclists have signed up, some very interesting for their experience and seniority, others for their youth and others for what they can still grow and which until now circumstances have not allowed. But we have also renewed seven riders from our previous project, seven young people who were with us who we really think will do very well. If nationality was not a burning issue then, it should not be a burning issue now either. And yes, to see everything from a more global perspective. For example, in 2018 we started with a team of eleven cyclists, including an Austrian, a Luxembourger, a Colombian, an Eritrean, a Dutchman, two Italians and four Spaniards. In the end this is a team with five nationalities present not only in its staff, but also in its organization chart. This is not exclusive to EOLO-KOMETA, it happens in many formations. Cycling, as I said before, is a global sport. Much more so than it ever was…
You spoke of a 2021 as a first contact with the category…
Yes, the arrival of EOLO to the team is part of a three year project. This 2021 is a first year of contact. But at the same time very important. The starting point is to fight, to stand up, to be offensive, to show ambition and to have a presence in the race. The training aspect is not forgotten or lost sight of. But at this point, from the prism of the new category, it is not the only thing. It is not enough to catch the breaks in races against World Tour teams. The results are also interesting. And in this context, a balance has also been sought when it comes to making up the squad.
What role do the U23 or junior teams play in the project?
Absolutely the same. And it is fundamental. Both the U23 and the junior teams and their Selection Campus are two pillars of this whole line of work of the Fundación Contador. And the Pinto Cycling Academy, which must not be forgotten. The ProTeam team is a dream come true, but our presence in cycling has gone step by step, from that base. For us the U23 and the junior are something fundamental. Recently in a forum I was told that now that EOLO-KOMETA is born it was clear what the important structure would be. And the truth is that this reflection, if it is the impression that one has, is very wrong. I suppose that the transfers have also been able to feed this perception which, of course, is absolutely wrong. Encouraging grassroots cycling does not mean that all the cyclists in your structures can make the leap to professionalism with you. I wish that were the case. And our dream is that it can be so in large part. And when I say this I think of a World Tour. But now it is impossible. And it is within the Foundation or in other structures that have a presence in various categories. What is not impossible is to create a training network. Between all of them. And perhaps runners who cannot jump with you can do so with another team. Sometimes you may think that one runner is going to do better than another and you are wrong. That can also happen. In the end they are human decisions, with specific criteria and therefore susceptible to being wrong. These years you can see cyclists going through the youth team. Cycling is much more than just a structure. But among many, it is possible to achieve a strong sport, in good health, with a future. At least I think that’s what’s important.
A dream for 2021 with the new EOLO-KOMETA Cycling Team?
With the continental one, to get an invitation to be in the Giro d’Italia and be able to succeed in one stage. To dream…! Beyond the Giro, to obtain beautiful victories in the races where we take part. And that all the riders have a good season, without accidents or health problems, in which they continue to progress.
(automatic translation, sorry for mistakes)