Over the ten signings that join the U19 project of the Contador Foundation, in six cases they are cadet riders who will face the change of category with the EOLO-KOMETA Cycling Team of this category. Iker Díaz from Bilbao, Iván Loaisa from Andalusia and Hugo Pradas from Madrid are three of these debutants. Three young talents with three stories behind, three different paths united by the same passion: the bicycle.
Díaz (25 July 2006) lives with his family in Bilbao, although he has always competed with a Cantabrian licence due to his strong links with the mountain territory. In fact, he comes from Team Logos from this region. His father, Rafael, a keen road cyclist, is a native of Ramales. And many holiday periods and rest days have been spent in the house that the Díaz family own near Laredo.
“My father has competed in the master’s category. I started to go out with him, especially accompanying him when we were in Laredo. One day he encouraged me to join a club and there, with the Club Ciclista Colindres, that’s where it all started. I was about seven years old or so, although when I was five I had participated in several cyclo-cross races in the promotional category”, says Díaz. Of course, the Tour de France, the Vuelta a España or the Itzulia are also days to enjoy with the family. “We’ve been going to the Tour since I was eight years old, to enjoy camping and this year, for example, we watched the Vuelta at the Sagrado Corazón in Bilbao and the following day, when we had a good one, we cycled to Pico Jano”.
The Biscayan declares himself an admirer of Wout Van Aert. “He’s my favourite cyclist, I can’t say why in particular. But I’ve always liked him. I admire his ability to win anywhere and in any circumstances. Of course he’s a rider I’d like to be like, but to get to that level is a tall order”, he smiles.
This season Díaz is in the second year of the Dual Baccalaureate, which provides official qualifications in both Spain and the USA and greatly enriches his level of English, and in the future he does want to go on to university: “I’m not sure yet what career to follow, but I’m sure it will be an engineering degree or something closely related to technology”.
Loaisa (28 November 2006) is privileged because he lives at the foot of a mountain pass at an altitude of more than 2,000 metres, kilometres long and with absolutely quiet routes where traffic is not abundant and the existing traffic is very respectful. A paradise for cyclists in the Sierra de Baza of the Penibetic System. A neighbouring mountain to Calar Alto, much more mediatic. Such is the particular paradise of this young resident of Caniles who came to cycling seduced by his experiences in the school category.
“My father used to go out on a mountain bike and I went out with him once, it was him who got me into the habit of cycling. One day, to try it out, he took me to a school race and I really liked the atmosphere. I had a great time. I rode for a while as an independent, then I started with a team that we set up in the village, in Caniles, and the two years as a cadet I have been with Indexo in Jerez de la Frontera”, says Loaisa, who was runner-up in the Andalusian gymkhana.
“I like to watch cycling in general, but Alberto Contador has made me enjoy his style of racing. He always tried it. He was very brave”, explains Loaisa who, when it comes to defining himself as a cyclist, says: “At this age I see myself as a complete cyclist, I can handle all types of terrain, but it’s true that I feel better on the uphill. In the area I have good terrain to train on. At the end, next to my house, we have the climb to the Puerto de Escúllar, we call it the limit, and I usually climb it quite a lot. Some days up to the middle, other times up to the top, another time I go up and down the other side to do it the other way round on a route that will take you 100 km with 2,500 metres of elevation gain… Eight or nine times a year it ends up falling like this”.
Loaisa, a student of an intermediate level of Technical Guide in the Natural Environment and Leisure Time (TEGU), also remembers a very nice experience in the days before the pandemic: an excursion with the people of the village to climb the Collado del Veleta, at an altitude of more than 3,000 metres. “Unforgettable, a unique experience,” he says.
The Madrid-born Pradas (27 September 2006) comes from the world of mountain biking, where he has always competed in one of the most established structures in the Community of Madrid in this discipline, MTB Cadalso, although during the 2022 season he has competed in road races with another Madrid classic, the Unión Ciclista Coslada.
“The truth is that I didn’t try road cycling until my first or second year as a child. As a cadet I did a few things, not many, but the more I’ve ridden, the more I’ve liked it. I couldn’t say why. The training sessions were a lot of fun and I liked the tension and excitement of the races”, he says.
“At home we’ve always been more into mountain biking. My father is a mountain biker and my little brother, Fabio, who is two years younger, is also a mountain biker and seems to be following in our footsteps”, concludes Pradas, who confesses a small dream: “In 2030, which is such a round date, I hope to have the opportunity to ride the Tour de France”.
“My mother”, concludes the Spaniard, “often asks me if I never get tired of watching bikes because on Sundays, which are the days when I can have the most rest, I like to take advantage of the time to watch races and broadcasts on my mobile phone or tablet. I like Mathieu Van der Poel and Wout van Aert, but especially Tadej Pogacar. I love the way he rides, the way he attacks, I love it”.