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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 Cabello.

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!



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