Isaac Cantón (Argamasilla de Alba, Ciudad Real; 1996) from La Mancha, Spain, has joined the technical area of the Alberto Contador Foundation sports structures for the 2023 season. Cantón, who confirmed his retirement from professional cycling in mid-October of this year, will continue to be linked to the sport of his love with new functions of support to both the U23 structure directed by Rafa Díaz Justo and the U19 structure led by Gorka Beloki.
“I’m very excited about this opportunity and very happy to start on this path,” says Cantón, who as a cyclist won the national U23 title in the 2017 edition, held in Soria. “Shortly after announcing my retirement, Fran Contador contacted me to ask me if I would be interested in joining the project. For me this is an incredible opportunity. I’m returning to what has been my home and I do it with a huge responsibility: to work with the youngest riders. Seeing the kids, contemplating their enthusiasm and their desire to work hard and fight to fulfil a dream, is very motivating. It is a privilege to have the opportunity to accompany them on that path”.
Isaac Cantón is, despite his youth, an old acquaintance of the Foundation. In 2017 he was part of Polartec U23, where he joined after two years as an amateur in the ranks of Infisport-ArabaEus led by Gorka Beloki. In 2018 he was promoted to the continental Polartec-Kometa, a structure in which he remained for two years and with which he achieved very good performances, always offensive and seeking to give visibility and prominence to the team. Very beautiful was his ride in the recovered Giro di Sicilia, where he became leader of the mountains and no less relevant his ninth place in the Ordiziako Klasikoa of 2019. In 2020 he signed for Burgos-BH, a team in which he competed for another two seasons (and came close to winning a stage of the Vuelta a Andalucía in a breakaway), before signing for the continental Manuela Fundación for 2022. Cantón would leave that team before the summer to finish the season with the Galician amateur SuperFroiz; however, in his last race as a professional, the Vuelta a Asturias, he had finished on the podium as the overall winner of the mountains.
“I’ve always been in contact with Fran, I’ve never lacked advice from his side and he has always kept me involved in the evolution of the projects. When he told me about this possibility, I immediately saw it as a way to return to the place where I achieved my greatest sporting successes and where I became a professional. I change roles, but I can continue to be linked to what has always been my passion: bikes. My goal has always been to be able to ride for a WorldTour team as a cyclist, something that will no longer be possible… But it can be possible now in another way. I want to live that dream one day and both with the learning and experience that I will gain and the steps forward that the project is taking year after year, I am in the best place to achieve it”.
Rafa Díaz Justo, director of the U23 team, also had the opportunity to coach Cantón in his amateur days. “A role like Isaac’s is very important both for continuing to deepen the interconnection between the U19 and U23 structures and for the scouting coverage that he will give us of the youth and cadet categories. This figure of third director is going to give us a lot of coverage for both Gorka and myself and Isaac, with his desire and motivation, is the ideal person: he is a home-grown boy, he knows well the way of doing things and the culture of the Foundation”.
“Isaac Cantón is a very special boy for me and I have always followed his path very closely”, says Gorka Beloki, head of the U19 squad. “I took him from the junior to the amateur category and when I came to the Foundation for the first time he was one of the riders who came with me. It will be special to have him around again and to share this new role with him. He is a person who knows what cycling demands nowadays, he comes from competing in it and he is totally updated. His arrival completes a nice combination in order to guide the riders in the best way. I think it’s a great decision to have him with us”.
Fran Contador, general manager of the Foundation’s teams: “There are always cyclists with whom you have a closer, more special relationship, and Isaac is one of the guys who have passed through our structures that from that point of view has marked me the most. That’s why when we found out that he was going to hang up his bike, the light bulb quickly went on: Isaac is a person who fits perfectly with the philosophy of the project and only needs a learning period. We are convinced that he will do a fantastic job in the training categories. In addition, he has two great teachers in Rafa and Gorka, with whom he will learn a lot. And I’m sure that his enthusiasm and desire will also teach us all a lot”.