Few squads can say that they are a reference in just five years of life and in an environment as broad and competitive as the amateur cycling universe, but the truth is that the year 2018 left that mark, reinforced that impression with respect to the sub23 structure of the Fundación Alberto Contador led by Rafa Diaz Justo from Toledo. In the ointment from February to September, in the fight for one-day races and stage laps. In the Spanish Cup, Polartec-Kometa fought for the options of Juan Pedro López and José Antonio García, both riders of the continental team for 2019. The Sevillian López won the Trophy Guerrita and finished third in Aiztondo, while the Granadino García finished second in the demanding Memorial Momparler, fourth in the Macario and fifth in the Guadiana Circuit. The prestigious Vuelta al Bidasoa was a turning point for the Madrid formation with the portentous performance of Juan Pedro López and his subsequent jump to the continental team. In the frenetic season of laps by stages, a lot of regularity for Alejandro Ropero, Jorge Pastor and Carlos García Pierna, some of the signatories of the not few top ten positions kneaded by the squad in the second part of the season. Positions specified in rounds by stages as the Vuelta a Navarra, the Volta a la Provincia de A Coruña, the Volta a Castellón, the Vuelta a Ávila, the Vuelta a Vetusta, the Vuelta a Salamanca, the Vuelta a la Provincias de Valencia and the Vuelta a Galicia. In that journey, the Polartec-Kometa sub23 won the general squad in Castellón and Ropero finished third in Salamanca. And in between, many outstanding performances and much more teamwork. José Antonio García, with two stage victories in the Vuelta a Zamora, another in Salamanca and the final general of the Challenge Vuelta a Sevilla with success in the classic Velá de Triana, contributed the identity to some successes in which the weight of the collective was crucial.
The Polartec Under-23 team this year celebrates its fourth season with the vocation to reach its sporting maturity. The team, directed by former professionals Rafa Díaz Justo and Gorka Beloki, has grown to have a roster of 16 riders, which includes an elite rider for the first time. Although there is still a very strong bet for young people who come up from the Polartec Junior Team, we also bet for a more veteran squad to be able to face the difficult commitments of the international calendar.
With this team, the Alberto Contador Foundation also shows its vocation to face new challenges in the near future, thanks also to the commitment of our sponsors, especially Polartec, who has assumed the responsibility of being the main sponsor for the next two seasons. Together with Polartec have joined our project Skoda and Kometa as main suppliers, while continue one more season both Rotor and Etixx, completing the first line suppliers. It is also worth mentioning the arrival of partners such as TM Real Estate Group, KASK, KOO, HP Sports Science and Gaerne.
The Polartec teams of the Alberto Contador Foundation face a season in which they intend to go even deeper into the internationalization of the project, both with new incorporations of different nationalities and with a calendar that aims to lead our cyclists to compete for a growing number of races of the European calendar with the aim to facilitate to the maximum its ascent to the maximum category. The Polartec Under-23 team has sixteen riders this year, including the first Italian, British and Portuguese riders to wear the Alberto Contador Foundation jersey.
The arrival of RH+ and Polartec as title sponsors of the Alberto Contador Foundation has marked a milestone in the evolution of this project, also guaranteeing its continuity in the medium term. In the same way, the arrival of a new bicycle brand, Look, has been a great contribution for next seasons, guaranteeing a first quality material to all riders.
The third season of RH+/Polartec U-23 was the consolidation of the team in an always difficult category. With riders still very young, they obtained a meritorious victory in the Spanish Cup by teams, which gives an idea of the high level average of this roster, also open to riders of other nationalities, an international vocation that the Alberto Contador Foundation intends to deepen in the future. The calendar also confirmed the international vocation, with participation in some of the best Italian, French and Belgian amateur races.
Following in the footsteps of Álvaro Cuadros, who passed to professionals directly from the Junior team, three riders graduated in the ranks of the Under-23 team: Enric Mas, Kenny Molly and Peio Olaberria.
The team takes hold in the category, good results are achieved and, more importantly, the team gives an image of fighter, competing for victory in each of the races where takes the start.
Proof of this are the podiums achieved in Tour of La Coruña, Vuelta a Navarra and Tour of Castellón, in the latter with victory in the queen stage. In all of them, the protagonist is Fernando Barceló. Enric Mas get a stage win in Vuelta al Bidasoa and goes up to the podium, as in the Tour of Palencia, where the roster was rewarded with the team’s victory.
A bright Miguel Angel Ballesteros also has successfully broken into the podium of Summer Criterium. The team confirms its international commitment to participate in Circuit des Ardennes, Tour de Bretagne or the impressive Giro d’Aosta.
It is the first season in the under 23 category, with a very young team in which most riders are from first and second year. It is a year of learning and adaptation, but where the first glimmerings of quality of the roster were seen.
Team’s victory in the Vuelta al Bidasoa is achieved, which portends the great future of many of these young riders. Is the debut in international competitions such as the Tour de Bretagne (France) and the Course de la Paix (Czech Republic), next to professional teams, against which riders fought very well. The podium achieved by Enric Mas at Vuelta a Palencia was another important fact to note in this first year.