Arturo Grávalos from La Rioja and Eduardo Pérez-Landaluce from Asturias will compete throughout this season with the Kometa-Xstra Cycling Team as stagiaires (trainees). The two riders of the U23 team, both 22 years old, have been chosen to compete in some events with the continental structure directed by Jesús Hernández and Dario Andriotto until the end of the season.
Grávalos (March 2, 1998), who is now in his second year with the Alberto Contador Foundation, had a great season in 2019, including a silver medal at the Nationals in Murcia, which ended earlier than expected due to injuries to his left hand from a traffic accident from which, after surgery and rehabilitation, he has now fully recovered.
“When Rafa and Carlos told me about it, as always you are joking, I thought they were taking the piss out of me. But they were not. It was an impressive joy, and more after the injury. It’s a huge opportunity that we have to make the most of. Fortunately the accident is more than forgotten, but the truth is that at first the doctors told me to forget about competing, even at some point I thought I would have to give up the bike. But I worked very hard. We are lucky that in the continental team we know the people and we have raced with some of them. I have good friends, like Alejandro Ropero, Sergio García, Alessandro Fancellu or Diego Pablo Sevilla, with whom I have trained some time and he is a very nice guy, very close”, said the rider from La Rioja.
Pérez-Landaluce (1 May 1998), who a few seasons ago had already been part of the junior team of the Foundation, returned to the same in 2019 to compete in the U23 directed by Rafa Díaz Justo. “I am very happy for this opportunity that I will be able to enjoy. I am very grateful to Rafa Díaz Justo, Carlos Barredo and Fran Contador, and to all my teammates because this is something that also belongs to them. The truth is that in a year as rare as this one, news like this is a motivation, a contribution of desire to continue working and doing things well. In the end, an opportunity like this means they trust you. I’m looking forward to helping the team and doing whatever both Jesus and Dario tell me to do,” said the Asturian.
“There is a profile of a rider that we believe that because of their physiology they perform very well in the professional category, better than in the amateur category. Sergio García, with his performances in the Vuelta a Murcia or in the recent Circuit of Getxo is a good example. With Arturo and with Edu it is possible to give a similar casuistry. Both are great long distance runners, who work very well from the fourth hour of the race. A big problem of the U23 category is that in many cases the races are short and that, facing a jump to the professionalism, it shows”, explains Rafa Díaz Justo, director of the Kometa-Xstra Cycling Team U23.
About the riojan cyclist, the toledano says: “Until his mishap at the beginning of the summer Arturo was showing a great form. He made a very nice Giro, with all the handicap of his hardness, and during all his competition he showed us that he is that kind of rider who hunts stages in big laps. Grávalos is a great rider, with a great engine, he goes down a certain mountain well and has room to pass the high mountain better. After the Giro and finishing second in the nationals he had an accident and was stopped for six months. We gave him a lot of tranquility, because he had taken a lot of weight, and before the confinement had a good level. After that he showed a brutal sporting level in Zamora, which was a pleasant surprise. He is an obedient cyclist, not selfish at all, a very good companion and above all he is brave”.
Regarding Pérez-Landaluce Díaz Justo, he adds: “He has a profile very similar to Arturo’s, also with a lot of engine and with experience in the junior team of the Foundation. He is also more cautious than Grávalos, we must encourage him to venture into certain racing situations. With him we have a particular struggle with the issue of weight, and it is precisely the opposite: he is a very fine boy, he has a body practically like a professional. Edu works very well in long and hard races, because such are his physical conditions. But in shorter, more explosive races, he is not exactly in his habitat. That’s why a little more weight would allow him to stand out more, because you also have more strength in your legs. In the near future we think he could be that great gregarious for the mountain.
Since the Alberto Contador Foundation’s continental structure was born, four stagiaires have competed with it: Spain’s Alejandro Ropero and Italy’s Stefano Oldani in 2018; and Hungary’s Karl Adam and Vas Balazs in 2019.
? Patricio García
(automatic translation, sorry for mistakes)