The Kometa-Xstra closes its last continental season with a wink to its quarry in an event with a great tradition
97ª Prueba Villafranca – Ordiziako Klasika
October 12th: Ordizia-Ordizia (165,7 km)
The Kometa-Xstra Cycling Team closes its season this coming Tuesday, its last exercise in the continental category, in a very special edition of the oldest one-day race on the spanish cycling calendar: the Ordiziako Klasika, the Clasica de Ordicia, also known as the Prueba Villafranca. An almost centenary race, born in 1922, without a doubt a sports heritage that must be pampered and protected. And in such an iconic event, the professional structure of the Contador Foundation takes part with a very young sextet that has the common characteristic that in all cases they have passed through the U23 team. And four of them, also the junior squad. A team of quarry for an event with a tradition.
Arturo Grávalos from La Rioja, Edu Pérez-Landaluce from Asturias, Diego Pablo Sevilla from Madrid, Daniel Viegas from the Algarve in Portugal, and Sergio García and Alejandro Ropero from Andalusia, coached by Jesús Hernández, make up the team that closes this course on Basque soil. Sevilla, at 24, is the oldest of a squad whose average age is just over 22. Grávalos and Pérez-Landaluce, this season’s stagiaires, will have a new opportunity after their experiences in Hungary and the Giro U23, respectively, with the particularity that their presence in the Ordiziako Klasika comes after having competed the previous day in the prestigious Memorial Valenciaga amateur. Learning with a challenge.
The great particularity of this edition of the Ordiziako Klasika, launched by the Grupo Deportivo Chapel Gorri, is the absence of teams from the World Tour category. An absence that opens up the number of aspirants, generates new alternatives and can also feed some uncertainties. “There will not be that level of previous seasons without the WorldTour and it is true that, although we do not know all the riders who will take part, it opens up the range of aspirants. For many it will be our last race and in our case, after the performances in Hungary and the Giro, Ordizia can be our icing on the cake”, says Alejandro Ropero. “Of course, the whole team is very motivated and very keen. We want to play a good role, to be protagonists. Let’s see if it’s possible, to make a good end to the year, to close this stage well and start the transition to a higher category with a good start”.
“Time passes very quickly, but in my case it’s been a month since the last races and the truth is that there is a desire to return to competition. We have trained well during these weeks and, personally, I think I have assimilated all the work well. We want to finish with a good taste in our mouths, it is important. If you finish well, throughout the winter you will have that good feeling and it is something that motivates you for next year. If not, it’s always a more difficult sensation to assimilate”, said Diego Pablo Sevilla, a cyclist who has ridden the last three editions with the Foundation’s continental structures. For his part, Sergio García said: “It’s going to be a very open race and we’ll have to look for the opportunity and try it out. Hopefully it will be similar to Getxo and hopefully it will be even better. Of course we are going to say goodbye as everyone would like”.
For the Lusitanian Daniel Viegas, the race in Ordizia is his return to competition after recovering from the injuries he suffered during the Giro U23: “After the crash I was stopped for ten days without being able to touch the bike, but I am practically recovered and I think physically I am well enough to face this last commitment of the year. Already in 2019 I ran here and it became very hard. The forecast for this year is that it will rain, which will make it even harder. But in the end what really calls you is that it’s the last chance of the year, so it really doesn’t matter if it’s raining hard or it’s hot as hell, you just get there wanting to compete”.
Stagiare Edu Pérez-Landaluce said: “It is going to be two very entertaining days both with the presence in the Memorial Valenciaga with the under 23 team and the next day in Ordizia with the continental team. The Valenciaga is, together with the Spanish Championship, one of the most important events of the year. But then we have Ordizia, which is a mythical event, also hard, which for both Arturo and me is an extra motivation. We finish the year with the professional team. The work is done, it’s just a matter of being calm, giving our all and enjoying ourselves”. “Ordizia is a race that we know well in La Rioja because we were able to see it on television, an important race, with a lot of history, and with a route that is very hard. Of course it gives prestige to whoever wins it. And this year, with no World Tour on the line, it’s something we should take advantage of”, concluded Arturo Grávalos.
The route does not vary much from the usual route of recent years, which, without changing the mileage, has done so in the sense in which it was faced on the circuit. The climbs to Albaltzisketa, which is passed on five occasions, and Altzo, on two of the last two laps of a wider circuit, will make the development of a Gipuzkoan race more difficult, although it is a particularly festive one every 25th July, although this 12th October is also a non-working day. Ricardo Montero, with five wins (1927, 1930, 1931, 1932, 1935) is the cyclist with the most titles in a list of winners, followed by Neil Stephens (1991, 1993, 1994, 1995); and with three, Txomin Perurena (1971, 1972, 1976), Marino Lejarreta (1981, 1988, 1989), and Gorka Izagirre (2010, 2012, 2014).
(automatic translation, sorry for mistakes)