I am on my way home after a weekend of incredible road racing in Valencia.
Not only am I feasting on the egg bocadillo purchased with my winnings (an honest €16) I have a warm feeling inside from the genuinely amazing people I have spent the weekend with.
Librado brought me the hat in the photo because it combines our names, well kinda anyway. This man has devoted his life to cycling and never earned a bean from it. He was there today in the blistering heat pinning on our numbers and handing us bottles. Librado has been president of my cycle team since before I was born.
With absolutely no way to make the 5-hour journey from Girona to Valencia I put a message on the team WhatsApp, immediately receiving a private reply from the man who would get me there. Getting home was all organised by the team manager during the second race of the weekend. Annoyingly, the parents of riders (who regularly spend their entire weekend supporting their son) will not accept a single euro towards the fuel cost.
My team has a very small budget and supports 30 up-and-coming young racers (I’m too old to be in that count, by the way). Last year they passed four of these whipper snappers to the professional ranks. Somebody find me another team that has achieved that. Riders are given one set of kit and need to pay for their bikes. Trust me when I say you wouldn’t train on the wheels they race on. But they are giving it everything in races to make it to pro level. The real valuable stuff – training advice, race tips and motivation and the occasional sticky bottle – is there. Librado, Nestor, Rafa, David, Kike and Ruben, you are legends beyond a proportion I cannot comprehend.
It’s so easy in life to focus on what is missing, what is wrong, not winning that race. Cycling has been tarnished with bad press over the years with drug abuse. Let this be good news about cycling. If you are reading this we want to say thank you for giving up your time, effort and financial support for the love of cycling.