Two of the sports structures of the Fundación Contador, the EOLO-KOMETA Cycling Team ProTeam and the U23 team, face these days their first pre-season training camp in Oliva Nova Beach & Golf Resort, a meeting that in the case of the team directed by Rafa Díaz Justo will last until December 18. In this stage, sharing training sessions with the riders of the amateur team, are the two current great values of Maltese cycling: Luke Borg (2002) and Jacob Schembri (2004).
The presence of Borg and Schembri, the only U23 riders of the country, is part of the intense and active collaboration that Visit Malta and the EOLO-KOMETA Cycling Team maintain in the promotion of the Mediterranean archipelago as a first class cycling destination and the impulse to the development of the young cycling talents of the islands. Malta currently has no riders in the professional peloton and the last one, a Roderick Muscat with experience in the Belgian calendar, retired a decade ago.
“I come from the world of karate,” says Borg, who holds a black belt. “I started commuting to training on a mountain bike and little by little I started to find the commute to the training centre a lot more fun than the actual karate training. After a while I said to myself ‘let’s give it a try’, I decided to give up martial arts to focus on cycling. I joined a club and we started this journey”.
“I played football between the ages of 7 and 12,” says Schembri. “My father practised cycling and I liked to ride with him. After a couple of months of more frequent outings I found myself enjoying cycling much more than playing football and I decided to change. Enjoying an experience like this is something incredible. Not so much because of the scenery, because in Malta we also have beautiful scenery to train in, but because of the support and organisation of the whole structure. It’s a great opportunity”.
“The Malta Federation is doing a great job to promote cycling both with events with more international outings. The sport is very popular, but professionalism in physical activity is not so common. When it comes to choosing between studies or sport, the former always prevails, it is something more socially established, more common. That is why there were few professionals, among other reasons. But the geography of our country is very interesting, it is by no means completely flat, it has small climbs that are ideal for exercising, with many steep slopes,” concludes Borg.