Ronde de l´Isard
France. From 17 to 20 May
Created in 1977, and devoted to the amateur field since 1998, the French Ronde de l´Isard is the next sporting challenge of the Polartec-Kometa U23. This is not just any test. This is one of the most prestigious events on the continental scene. The Ariège race, which has reached 41 editions this year, not only has a good number of the best riders in its squad at the moment, but it also offers them a very hard route where there is no shortage of recurrent Pyrenean mountain passes for the Tour itself. The scenography of the Tour in the amateur field.
In the Ronde de l´Isard 2018 there is no time trial. But a lot of mountain. Of its four stages, the first two have a high or sloping finish. The third is the most favorable for a fight between the fast men. And the fourth, which does not end at a high point, proposes several mountain passes in which two of great importance stand out. With permission from what may happen on Thursday at Eycheil, after passing through the Portet d´Aspet, or on Friday at Goulier Neige, the last day at the Col d´Agnes and the Muur de Peguere emerge as fundamental in the resolution of the race.
Polartec-Kometa U23 will be joined by Italy’s Daniele Cantoni, José Antonio García, Sergio García, Juan Pedro López, Jorge Pastor and Alejandro Ropero. “We come at a very sweet moment, after having done a great job in the Vuelta al Bidasoa. The routes are hard, they accumulate a lot of unevenness and also the teams have a lot of level. But the team looks great”, Ropero reflects. The team is returning to a race they took part in last year. Ropero was one of those who participated then: “For me it was a turning point. At L´Isard I really realised what the U23 category is like, the level in Spain and the importance of taking part in events like this, because in the end you end up learning and training much more as a cyclist. These are privileges that not all the teams in Spain have, we do thanks to the Foundation and the truth comes to us in luxury”.
The Ronde deL´Isard 2018 will be the last race in the category for Juan Pedro López, who will join the continental team on June 1. “There are several interesting days for its harshness. Personally, as always, I’m going to do my best, but I’m going without pressure. I want to enjoy the race. Last year I was already competing here and I did well[16th overall]. Now I don’t have my mind set on anything concrete. I just want to go and enjoy myself. “For me”, says Ropero, “it’s a new opportunity to get it right, even if the result isn’t important. A great opportunity to continue learning. I hope to see myself there, to answer, to show myself in a terrain where I defend myself well, even if I am not a pure climber. Last year I couldn’t finish, because psychologically the race was a bit big and I pushed myself and demanded more than I could give”.
17 May: Lorp Sentaraille-Eycheil (125.9 km).
18 May: Fonsorbes-Goulier Neige (154.3 km).
19 May: Levignas-Boulogne sur Gesse (153.4 km).
20 May: Salies du Salat – Saint-Girons (152.4 km).
(automatic translation, sorry for mistakes)