Vicente Hernaiz is another of the new faces to be presented in 2020 by the Alberto Contador Foundation’s U23 project. The cyclist from Valladolid, who arrives from the Basque Eiser Hirumet, is one of those riders who comes to the team with an important previous training background that has led him to pass through all categories and compete in formations outside Valladolid. “Well, looking back, I’ve been competing for eleven years now. I started in the schools and I took steps to now stop at the Alberto Contador Foundation, where I arrive with a lot of desire. I really wanted to come, but at no time did I know for sure that they would call me. When Rafa Díaz Justo and Félix García Casas contacted me, it was a special moment. I didn’t even think about it, of course”, explains Hernaiz.
The Pucelano came to cycling by the coincidence that the father of one of his best friends was a cyclist. “He signed up for a cycling academy and encouraged me to do the same. And from then until now. I went through Juan Carlos Domínguez’s academy and spent four years with them. Then, as a cadet, I ran in the Tinlohi. From there I went on to the Laciana de León Foundation, to the MMR and then as an under23 I spent two years in the Escribano before arriving at Eiser”, he remembers. In the MMR he coincided with two of his companions, Edu Pérez-Landaluce and Yago Segovia. Such a long journey, however, never had a concrete end with dreams of professionalism.
“Sincerely what I like the most is to enjoy the bicycle. My illusion of being a professional is relatively recent, I had never seriously considered it. There were always those doubts about ‘but would I be worth it? I was convinced this year by chaining very good competitions in Legazpi, in the Macario and in the Vuelta al Bidasoa. In the Spanish Cup I did very well and in Bidasoa I saw myself fighting in front, in a very tough race with a very high level and riding there between the fifteen in front, although I lost my options in the same fall in which Alejandro Ropero also went to the ground going as leader. After those races I really thought yes, that I can be a professional someday”.
His performance a couple of months later in the Vuelta a León was the finishing touch. “I finished second in the sprint in one stage after starting 700 metres from the finish line, another day I got involved in a breakaway and was in the lead almost 140 kilometres, another day I was paddling 100 kilometres… That regularity I think was fundamental to end up receiving the call from the team”.
Questioned about his profile as a rider, Hernaiz surprises with a clear, concise and immediate answer: “I’m a classicist who climbs well. I’m a fast cyclist. I always say that my profile is a bit like that of Philippe Gilbert. In Spain in the end you need to climb well and be fast to achieve results, it’s a question of the type of races that are organized here. There are no pure sprinter races, nor is there an abundance of pure and hard sprinter profiles. This year I was competing in France, in flat races, it was amazing the great speed, the great selection that causes next to the wind that can blow. In the end are sprints much smaller than it may seem.
It is not his prodigal ecosystem in high mountains where to train. “Here the climbs are five minutes and when the wind hits the gusts are very strong and very continuous. It’s time to take the car to go to the foot of Puerto de Navacerrada that catches me at one hour. Sometimes I also approach the area of Aguilar de Campoo or down to Ávila. In the end you have friends in many places and you can plan training in company”.
Hernaiz, however, is not the Belgian cyclist who inspires him the most, but a former team-mate of the former world champion and winner of four of the five monuments: the Dutch Niki Terpstra. “I’m probably the cyclist I liked the most. When he starts he’s different from everyone else. When he walks, he walks a lot. In his good years he has made spectacular races. He ended up winning three high-level races, Le Samyn, E3 Harelbeke and Tour of Flanders, in 2018 consecutively and signing distant starts. I certainly like to run like that”.
The new rider of the Kometa Cycling Team u23 studied Mechanical Engineering in Valladolid for two years, but it was not easy to combine it with competition. “It was a problem of mental load rather than physical load and I chose to stop. Someday I want to take it up again. I didn’t want to stop training and as I really like the world of graphic design, a field where my father has been working for 25 years, I took a course last year. In a project that we had to present of infographics I animated myself and I made a simulation based on Gobik. And since then I’ve been doing my pinitos, designing custom stickers and stickers or other commissions. Some of the runners in the platoon wear them, like Edu Pérez-Landaluce or the British McCarty, from EF. I have also designed equipment for some groups. It’s a world I really like”.
(automatic translation, sorry for mistakes)