The nameless from the Vuelta.
Herman van Iterson
When people watch cycling one always like to see how the main contenders
will do. The last Vuelta was no exception. Before the start you can already
read all about those favourites. People like Casero, Millar, Heras, De
Galdeano and Sevilla. How will they ride, what have they done thusfar and
what do they think about each other's chances? It's very interesting to read
of course, because nobody knows for sure how strong they will really be.
And then when the Vuelta is underway, you can read about the failures and
succeses from all those main contenders. But there are about two hundred
riders in the race and they aren't all favourites! Who are they? What do we
know and hear from them? Of course we know something about the best helpers
in every team. We know that Beltran and Rubiera are great riders who can
support Heras in the Vuelta as well as they did to Armstrong in the Tour. We
know that Serrano and Nozal can support De Galdeano. And Gutierrez and
Tauler will help Sevilla.
That means in every team we can find, apart from the leader, two to three
good riders as their support. Which leaves us with more than one hundred
riders. Who are they? What is their job? Are they all attackers to win a
stage? Of course not. Maybe there are some in every team, but the most
riders left are the unknown workers for the team. The nameless who cycle
three weeks during the Vuelta, working for their leader and their main
helpers. Bringing water to all of them. Giving material, wheels if
necessary. Wait for a favourite to bring him back into the peloton. And many
other things that people watching television don't even see. They are the
riders who sometimes finish well after the main group. Behind with some time
lost because they've worked so hard in the beginning of a stage. In this
story I like to give a look behind the main part of the race. We follow a
nameless rider from the Kelme-Costa Blanca team. His name is Francisco
Pro since 1990. Always riding for the Kelme-Costa Blanca team. But how
many people know this guy. And what do we see of him during a race? Most of
his work takes place in the beginning of a stage. Francisco was in the
beginning of his career an attacker. Not a real climber to use in
mountainious stages. Not a sprinter to use at the end of a stage, but one to
try to get away with some others hoping to beat them and win. And maybe you
remember the year the Tour the France began in Ireland. There it was that
Francisco had his best win. He took a memorable stage just by attacking and
beating the rest.
After that success he tried to do the same in different stages and
different tours. Sometimes with success, but mostly without. In his team he
rode with people like Fernando Escartin, Roberto Heras, Santiago Botero,
Aitor Gonzalez and Oscar Sevilla. All very good riders capable of winning
stages and even tours like the Vuelta. It's obvious that for Francisco it
was better to help those better riders, also because he was
getting older himself and his own succes became more difficult to get.
Still in the team he said goodbye to the podiumkisses and now works for
his teamleaders. Also this Vuelta, in his thirteenth season, he worked hard
for Oscar Sevilla and Alejandro Valverde. Together with the other nameless
workers in the Kelme-Costa Blanca team. And while their leaders gain succes
and receive the podiumkisses, he and his teammates enjoy the result of their
hard work in the shadow of those on the podium.
One day he tried to achieve some succes for his own. Out in the attack
with some others. Like in his early years. But when the first mountain was
in sight, he had to pass and was soon taken by the peloton. The race went on
and nobody thought of him again during that stage. And all the other days we
didn't see him again. Not in the attack or alone in front. But when the
whole team had to work in front of the group to try to raise the tempo, he
was there of course.
Click for larger image
And not only to raise the tempo just before a mountainstagefinish in
favour of Sevilla and Valverde, but also to try to bring his leader(s) back
during stages with echelons. Very difficult work and therefor it's very
usefull when you have a rider in your team with very much experience to gide
you through these rough moments. A guy who doesn't mind to do this job. Who
doesn't worry about his place in the overall standings. Who earns his money
and doesn't complain to his coach. Who wiil always get to Paris or Madrid.
And who doesn't care of being nameless!
But also riders like Cabello earn their glory. That's why I chose to
write something about him and all the other nameless workers in every
Vueltateam. People like Pradera, Barry, and Acosta. They all rode the whole
tour. Some we didn't even see, but for sure the teamleaders and their
teamcoaches did! And hopefully today we also did. Without them cycling would
be very different and maybe even impossible!