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The block 2022 of the U23 EOLO-KOMETA Cycling Team increases its number of members and reinforces its Spanish-Italian duality in order to increase its international presence from two different competitive realities. Rafa Díaz Justo from Toledo is joined by Dario Andriotto from Varese in the direction of the squad. Two riders of the same generation, both born in 1972, with long careers in professional racing where they have stood out for their service to the common good of a collective: eleven seasons for the Spaniard, sixteen for the Italian. We spoke to the man from Busto Arsizio about his intangible heritage of experiences.

“The team is making an important leap, it’s not just a team for Spain or Italy, it’s a team for the whole of Europe. I think we can talk about similarities with a continental level team, both in terms of organisation and quality. We have put together a team with a lot of experience and professionalism. Rafa, the coaches Carlos Barredo, Giuseppe de Maria and Antonio Campos, myself included with permission… And many more. And the most important thing is that, because that is the purpose of the team: to transmit all that experience and all that professionalism to the kids”, says Andriotto, who has been closely linked to the professional structure of the Fundación Contador for the past few seasons, first as a team registered in the Continental category and then, from 2021, as a ProTeam.

The tandem with Díaz Justo motivates and excites especially the Varesino, both have worked together on several occasions. “Rafa is, as they say, a machine. He is an excellent professional, he always gives 100%. I love working with him. We understand each other perfectly, we only have to look at each other to know each other’s opinion. I also think that the atmosphere in the U23 team is very professional at all levels, which is important for the kids’ learning, and we have a first-class staff. We work calmly, without haste, but also without pause. Everything is very well-oiled at all levels and everything is evolving correctly”.

On the team, The Bustocco man believes: “We have a very young team. With a lot of quality, but very young, and I think it’s interesting not to lose focus on this. I am sure that this season we will find very good results; but, given this youth, I am convinced that in 2023, in my opinion, we will take a much more important step forward if possible. We have several riders coming from the junior category, especially among the Italians, and this is a change that requires time and adaptation. The team is competitive, but we must also know how to wait”.

“Between all of us we are building a very important project. Right now cycling is different, it has changed a lot in a short space of time. In what way? A lot of young people are coming to the professional ranks. I don’t know why cycling is like this at the moment, but it’s a fact. However, I think you can’t lose sight of the fact that a Pogacar or an Evenepoel is unique. There are two of them. Not everyone can follow that consideration. They are both phenomena. But they are not unique phenomena. For most riders, two or three years as an U23 rider before making the jump to either the ProTeam or the WorldTour will never be bad for them, not at all”, he reflects.

For Andriotto, therefore, there is one key word: “Tranquility”. “It’s important. With tranquillity, quality is consolidated. Davide Piganzoli is a good example. In 2021 I didn’t have so much pressure on the U23 team. We had older riders who had more responsibility when it came to getting results, like David Martín or Álex Martín. He had a very good season, he had a great Giro U23. This season is different: he has finished school, he is more focused on cycling, he has to adapt to this new responsibility that he is gaining with respect to 2021…”.

In terms of the calendar, some of the major European races in the category (Giro del Valle d’Aosta, Giro d’Italia U23, Ronde de l’Isard) are not unknown, nor is the Spanish calendar very well defined, with a first part more focused on the Copa de España and, from May onwards, on the stage race season. There will, however, be weekends where the structure will double competition in both Spain and Italy. “We have already been invited to several races, such as the Coppa San Geo, the Trofeo Belvedere and the Trofeo Piva, both of which we raced in last year. During the next few days I think we will receive more conformations. In Italy there are a lot of U23 teams wanting to race. From that point of view, as far as the Italian calendar is concerned, we are a foreign team in this category. But we have Italian sponsors who also want to race in Italy and the organisations want to count on us”.

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