The 2020 season of the Kometa-Xstra Cycling Team of the Alberto Contador Foundation officially started on Monday in the Gran Centelles Hall of Oliva Nova Beach & Golf Resort in Oliva, Valencia, in the Comunitat Valenciana. A campaign in which the Foundation faces its first ten years of activities in which have alternated both the implementation of sports projects and solidarity initiatives, educational and awareness of the Ictus.
The continental, sub23 and junior categories presented their members and outlined their objectives for a campaign that looks exciting and in which the structures want to deepen the formative and promotional role of new talent that has taken special prominence during the last campaign. The speaker from Navarre, Juan Mari Guajardo, was in charge of conducting a ceremony that began with the intervention of Luis Borho, general director of Oliva Nova Beach & Golf Resort, and included the testimonies of Giacomo Pedranzini, CEO of Kometa, John Rasmussen, CEO of Xstra Digital Storage, Fran Contador, Alberto Contador and Ivan Basso.
In his turn to speak, Luis Borho showed his appreciation for hosting the presentation again and reiterated his firm commitment to the deseasonalization of tourism in the Comunitat Valenciana through sport. “Oliva Nova has the best conditions for hosting sports training camps and all the work they do at Kometa-Xstra is a magnificent example. It is always a pleasure for us to be your hosts”.
The continental structure directed by Jesús Hernández presented in society the twelve riders of five different nationalities that make up the third project in the continental category. Five cyclists remain in the team (Hungary’s Márton Dina, Portugal’s Daniel Viegas, Italy’s Antonio Puppio and Spain’s Diego Pablo Sevilla and José Antonio García), while seven new faces have joined: Denmark’s Mathias Larsen, Hungary’s Erik Fetter, Spain’s Sergio García and Alejandro Ropero and Italy’s Riccardo Verza, Giacomo Garavaglia and Alessandro Fancellu. Both Garcia and Ropero promote from the U23 team of the Foundation (a circumstance they also share with Fancellu) and achieve professionalism after joining the junior team through the Selection Campus that takes place every year in September.
“The fundamental thing is to follow our line of work, effort and discipline. To continue on this path as well as we have done up to now. Always with that component of luck that the elite athlete needs in the face of injuries and mishaps, of course, but to maintain that commitment and never stop improving,” says Hernández on a season that will begin in just two days in the Challenge of Mallorca. “The objective is always to improve on the previous year, we have an incredible group and I think it will be a good season,” said Dario Andriotto. “This 2020 is a very important year for all of us, for a Hungarian cyclist the possibility of being here is already an honour, I trust that we can complete a very good season, because the atmosphere is really magnificent”, said Márton Dina. “It is already the eighth year that I am in this presentation, although I have changed categories; I am very proud of being part of the Foundation”, Diego Pablo Sevilla thanked. “Every year we are getting better, we are getting better, and I am confident that this season will be better than the last one”. Alejandro Ropero, one of the new faces, was also questioned: “This is to fulfill a dream, not to be in the category anymore, but to do it in a team that is more than that, it is a family. I am very happy to have received this opportunity. You can win or not, but the important thing is to keep working, keep growing and have confidence in yourself and your team-mates”.
In the atmosphere, a very special memory for Juan Camacho from La Mancha, who announced his retirement a few days ago as a result of a recurrent injury to his right knee and a boy very well considered by his colleagues and staff members.
Giacomo Pedranzini, Kometa’s CEO, expressed his satisfaction with the promotion of young talent to other structures, although he expressed his desire to avoid this ‘escape’: “We are happy when our young riders are required by a World Tour team, but we are sad to lose them. We must be able to move up, to evolve, with the whole team, to a higher category together with them. We’ll take it one step at a time. The cycling team must be successful in communicating our values, because through our values we can really change our society. “Someone once said: ‘start by doing what is necessary, then what is possible, and suddenly you will be surprised to do the impossible,” he concluded.
John Rasmussen, CEO of Xstra Digital Storage, reminded attendees of his previous intense involvement with cycling, from 1996 to 2006, and used his speaking time to express his belief in the need to work on changing the financial structure of professional teams: “I decided to leave in 2006 because I found that structure unhealthy. But I am back because the fantastic people behind this team have the will to change that structure and build a healthy professional cycling team. Fran, Alberto, Ivan and Giacomo share my ideas about what the future of professional cycling should look like. Kometa and Xstra are not just sponsors, we see ourselves as partners. And as partners, together, we will build this team. We will build on the values of the Contador Foundation. Kometa and Xstra will grow this team to the highest level. We will create something new, something different, something beautiful, a team that riders, staff, managers, partners and sponsors want to be on”.
Fran Contador, general manager of the Foundation’s teams: “An event of these characteristics always brings with it many illusions, but in the specific case of this presentation it is even more true due to the fact that it represents the culmination of many months of work preparing this season and, at the same time, it implies the beginning of a very important sports year that brings with it the arrival of new and important support. We are very happy to be able to count on all of them in this project, both those who are still with us and those who are now joining us, with Xstra at the helm. It is a special year, without a doubt. 2019 has left us four of our riders in the World Tour category. And looking back, there are already more than 30 riders who have reached the professional level. In terms of sport, we are still working to be able to make the jump in category one day, with a lot of effort to achieve it but without any obsession. And in a more social aspect, we continue giving a new life to bicycles in disadvantaged groups that have no use, promoting the use of the bike as a means of transport or educational tool or raising awareness about a disease still too unknown as is the Stroke”.
For the u23 team directed by Rafa Díaz Justo, on the other hand, the one of 2020 will be the seventh season of existence. Six runners will join the project (the Catalan Eduardo Rodés, the Valladolid Vicente Hernaiz and the Andalusian David Martín and Mario Vilches, the La Mancha Fernando Tercero and the Czech David Andrle). From the previous year, the Balearic Joan Martín Bennassar, the Catalan Álex Martín, the Riojan Arturo Grávalos, the Asturians Edu Pérez-Landaluce and Yago Segovia and the Italian Alessio Acco continue.
“We are very motivated and we will try to do well and be one of the references within the national scene,” said Edu Perez-Landaluce. “This last year has been spectacular and we are very motivated for the new season. I think that the format of betting on young cyclists, in a reduced staff, is working for us so far. It is not a question of passing cyclists to the professionals, but to promote riders who perform well in the category, with a profession, with a route. We are seeing that there are cyclists who can be very good professionals without the need to accumulate many victories,” said Diaz Justo.
After an unforgettable sporting and emotional campaign, with the pin of a cyclist making the jump directly to the World Tour, the eighth adventure of the youth team directed by Guillermo Gutiérrez is marked by a profound renewal in its roster. “2019 has been a spectacular year, but it is not a result, it is a question of forming cyclists, of transmitting the values of companionship, union, sacrifice, self-improvement, dedication and of course academic preparation. For us the most important thing is the studies and then there are the races”, remembers the Cantabrian.
José Luis Medina, from Cadiz, in his second year in the category, gave voice to a team that also includes Pedro Beneit from Alicante, Francesc Bennassar from the Balearic Islands, David Quevedo from Cantabria and Alejandro Luna from Madrid. “We are going for a 2020 better than this 2019, it will be something very difficult to match, but all the teammates are going to give everything to achieve it. The ceiling is very high”, he added. Andalusian Marius Knight-Chaneac, Cantabrian David Gimeno Pardo, Catalan Arnau Gilabert, Antonio González Torres from Soria, Valencia’s Pablo García González and Madrid’s Samuel de Pablo Rubio, Miguel Ángel Molina Castrejón and Miguel Ramos Cabañas are the eight new faces joining the Kometa-Xstra Cycling Team for young riders.
Alberto Contador and Ivan Basso closed the event with a double speech in which they discussed some of the Foundation’s projects and their hopes for the future in the sports field. “In this team we put a lot of illusion and a lot of work. It’s been three years now and every year both of them go on. We have a lot of talent in all categories, with different priorities in the sense that for the juniors the most important thing is the school. Our mission is to prepare them for cycling. We don’t know how many great champions we have. We do have great people. In all areas. It is a human group of immense quality”, said the Italian. “This project started very slowly and over the years it has grown and taken on much more ground. We look to the future with ambition. Giacomo Pedranzini said the other day that my brother Fran is a kind of magician because he achieves a lot with fewer resources than others. And he’s right. He’s a tireless worker. And in the end he’s the brain of this whole project. His engine”, Alberto was sincere.
“Personally I would like to publicly thank Antonio Puppio and Alessandro Fancellu who, although they had the opportunity to run in a higher category, have wanted to continue with us to continue growing in their career. This has been very important for us, it is very good to have that confidence from your own runners. We would like all the boys to continue with us for many years, so that no one goes to another squad. If I have to make a wish for the future, it’s that we continue to grow, that we take one more step,” concluded Basso.
(automatic translation, sorry for mistakes)