The Pyrenees are more than just a 400-kilometre mountain massif, rounding down, that separates Spain from France, the Iberian Peninsula from the rest of Europe. For the case that occupies these lines, although due to different circumstances, the Pyrenees are the cradle of two cycling passions with dreams of a professional future.
Both the Catalan Gerard Cano and the Castilian-Leonese Miguel Domínguez, second year U19 riders who join the project of the Contador Foundation in this category, have their link with the mountains that take their name, as mythology says, from the lover of Hercules who followed him and who died during one of his twelve labours.
For Gerard Cano (8 August 2005) the Pyrenees are home routes. The cyclist from Campdevànol has a privileged environment to training. “I have several climbs that reach 2,000 metres close to home. Vallter 2000, La Creueta, Pal, Les Barraques… This area is wonderful. We have a route that is a bit of a tradition in which in 70 kilometres, or less, we climb Pardines, Brugeres, Queralbs and Campelles and we manage around 2,000 metres of positive difference in altitude”. However, the Spaniard from Girona does not define himself as a pure climber: “I’m good at climbing, I like climbing, and I also think that I descend well. So far my experiences with time trials have been good and in the past I have done a lot of track and I became Catalan champion in all modalities. I’m in a training phase, but for the moment I’m very versatile and complete, so we’ll see where we go”.
The Pyrenees are a cradle for the love of cycling beyond the personal: it also comes from the family. “My grandfather Alfons Cano already raced bikes, he was a fanatic of the sport. He ended up passing this hobby on to my father, Josep, who came to compete in the amateur field and was in the PDM. They both told me stories and stories and I became more and more curious. My parents warned me that it was very demanding and very demanding, but I wanted to try it. I think I was about 13 years old when I touched the bike for the first time, we did a 40 kilometre route and I ended up at home knackered, unable to get up. But far from stopping, I kept on cycling”, he explains.
The young Gerard is studying an intermediate degree in guiding at the Mendio Natural and at the Tiempo de Ocio and hopes to go on to further studies, going deeper into the field of nutrition. He is also an admirer of a very young cyclist, former rider of the same structure in which he will compete in 2023: Carlos Rodríguez. “He is a great rider, he has everything. He can do a stage in a one-week tour, he’s in the fight in a three-week tour, he can support a sprinter for the volata…. And he is winning a race while competing at the highest level”.
Cano comes to the Fundación Contador from the Unión Ciclista Vilanova. “When I started competing in cycling academies level I did it at the Escuela Ciclista Olot because we had contact with Carles Torrent. And I stayed there until my second year as a cadet. Then I competed with UC Vilanova”. “My parents don’t really want me to do cycling, but they respect my decision. They remind me whenever they can that when I want I can quit, that I should not feel forced to continue. That this is very hard. I am aware of that. But at the moment I’m not under any pressure. And I love this sport”.
The nineteenth stage of the 2018 Tour de France connected Lourdes to Laruns with a route of just over 200 kilometres in which the climbs of the Col d’Aspin, the Col du Tourmalet, the Col des Borderes, the Col du Soulor and the Col d’Aubisque had to be tackled. That day, Primoz Roglic won and a young boy from Salamanca, who had come with family and friends to watch the stage live, was a direct witness of the great Slovenian rider’s adventures.
There, that day, Miguel Domínguez (16 November 2005) was captivated by cycling. At least definitively. “I think that summer we started cycling more and more seriously. My father has always cycled, he has done the Quebrantahuesos, he has done mountain bike races, he has competed in some, such as the Ruta Vetona, which combines MTB and trail… At home we have always watched cycling on TV and we have always had our rides, of course on family holidays in Piedrahita. But this stage was a bit of a turning point,” he recalls.
After that Tour, he ended up enrolling in the Promesal Cycling School, where he arrived in the second year of the children’s category. And until today. A path full of experiences in which he has continued to enjoy elite cycling. “From these years I have enjoyed a lot with Chris Froome, he was a cyclist that I liked a lot. Although he doesn’t win like he did a few years ago, his way of being, his way of acting… I always liked him. From the current scene, it’s very difficult to choose. I like several of them”.
How does Miguel Domínguez define himself as a cyclist? “I don’t know, although I’m better at climbing, any kind of climbing. In the Challenge Montaña Central I really enjoyed the climb to Carabanzo, which is short, but with its steepness, you go at a thousand miles an hour and I’ve always been in front. Apart from that, I love the climb to the Puerto de la Peña Negra, which is next to my village”. Domínguez is in the second year of his baccalaureate and is thinking about studying for a degree: “I have several options in mind, but I haven’t decided on any one yet”.