Álvaro García, experience and talent from Cantabria to shore up the U23 squad
Cantabria is a land of cycling and, within the geography of La Montaña, Torrelavega is a privileged place in terms of hobbies and quarrying. Great names from the world of cycling have come from here, and not necessarily with a climbing profile, because Óscar Freire, with three world titles and as many victories in the Milano-Sanremo race, is much more than an exception that confirms a rule. Álvaro García Villegas (1999), one of the six new faces of the Contador Foundation’s under-23 team, is another of those talents born in the mountain population. Through these lines we want to know a little better the new rider of the team.
“In my father’s family there has always been a certain tradition of cycling. My father, in fact, raced until he was twenty or twenty-one years old. The fact that he was my father’s director in those years was the one that gave my older brother, Ismael, the creeps. He used to race and, of course, you see him come and go, he catches your eye and you want to try it out, at least. I was five years old when I started at the cycling academy in Santilla de Mar. Then I continued with the Isidoro San Justo Cycling Team as a cadet and as junior…”, remembers Álvaro about his cycling origins.
Ismael, his brother, ran until the third year in the under 23 category. Álvaro, who is facing his fourth year in the category in 2021, when the time came for him to jump from the junior category, was very much attracted by the idea of trying out the Basque and Navarre calendars. And in them, he tried his hand at the Telco’m for two seasons. “For the first year, I didn’t want a team that was too far from home. This option came up, among others, and I thought it was very good, especially because in the Lehendakari Tournament you can adapt well to the category, quickly, without noticing much the question of mileage. And also with all the passion there is in the Basque Country. I have competed in Cup races and stage tours, but above all I have made the Basque calendar. And I have enjoyed it very much”, he added.
Looking ahead to 2021, García arrives with the ambition of taking a leap forward. Last season he competed with the Caja Rural-Seguros RGA: “I felt like giving a change of scenery. I had talked to Rafa Díaz Justo some time ago, he knew me, he had followed me and at the end of this season we talked a little about the future. He explained the project, his idea, the situation; I liked it. It allowed me to take another little leap forward, with a broad calendar both nationally and internationally. A very interesting adventure. And I’m really looking forward to starting it”.
Closer to the Trueba or Freire? Álvaro smiles: “I can do well in all areas, but I’ve always been more of a pure climber. I’m 1.80m tall and weigh less than 60kg. In Cantabria this is the terrain we have. Freire arrived and broke all the rules, but here it is the mountain that rules. We have a privileged area”. What are your particular paradises in such a privileged environment? “I don’t have a favourite climb, but I do have an area: the Pasiegos Valleys. Caracol, Lunada, Braguía, Estacas de Trueba… For beauty and for hardness. On the days when I hit rock bottom I do go up to that area. If not, they take me further away to go out from home by bike. For trials and so on, the ideal climb for all cyclists in this area is the Collada de Carmona. It has the ideal distance and allows you to test yourself”.
García, another curiosity, is another member of a group of about ten or twelve riders, from different categories, who have a virtual meeting point through the online games with the console. “In the end you arrive tired of training, you don’t feel like going out with your friends, and the console is a good plan. It allows you to spend the afternoon. We had a good time with Alejandro Ropero. Every now and then you try a different game, it goes by seasons. We’ve had Call of Duty days, but now FIFA is in charge. With so much travel, however, series and films are also good allies for making travel more enjoyable”.
Asked about his cycling dreams and his favourite rider, García concludes: “From my beginnings, when I was five years old, I don’t have many memories of cyclists calling me. When I was ten or eleven years old I already watched more cycling on television and at that time, without a doubt, it was Alberto Contador who made me get off the couch the most. Although I also liked Chris Froome a lot because of his way of being. About the dream… I would like to ride a Tour de France. In general I would like to race a big three weeks race, but between the three of them the Tour. In the end, if you are there, in that disposition, you mean that you have done everything right to achieve it”.
(automatic translation, sorry for mistakes)