One of the most talented riders in the peloton, the 21-year-old wrote his first blog for the team, while in Argentina, where he races San Luis.
Hello, everyone! As many fans have asked me more about my first years in cycling and how I came into this sport, I decided to write this blog for the Etixx – Quick-Step website in which I will answer to these questions. My father was an amateur rider, who loved (and still loves) the sport very much. When I was a kid, I went together with him to some races and I became in love with cycling. Seeing this, my father bought me my first bike, which I began to ride all day long, but it wasn't until I turned 15 that I began thinking about becoming a cyclist.
Being born in La Ceja – a small town in Antioquia – the logical step for me would have been to become a climber and go for stage races, but I have been always fascinated by the sprinters, the speed they could produce and the fact that to win a sprint you don't need just sheer power, but also to be intelligent and look for the best tactic in those final kilometers.
Besides road cycling, I also love the track, where I took two Junior World Titles (four years ago, in New Zealand), before going on to win the Omnium gold medal at the 2015 World Championships in Yvelines. Still, I wouldn't have been here today if not for my breakthrough ride in last year's Tour de San Luis. Coming into the race I didn't have any particular goals, just to take it day by day and see how I feel. The sensations were good right from the beginning, the confidence strong and these helped me land not one, but two stage victories. It took a while for me to realize what I have done and that I won against experienced World Tour cyclists who, up until that point, I've seen just on TV.
Etixx – Quick-Step put a contract on the table after San Luis and I couldn't say no to this chance, especially as I'm fascinated not only by sprints, but also by the cobbles, and Etixx – Quick-Step is the best team in the world when it comes to these one-day races. Paris-Roubaix is my favourite Classics, I watched it on TV in numerous occasions and seeing how riders are capable of overcoming all the obstacles and the suffering for six or seven hours was really inspiring. Hopefully, one day I will ride there and test myself.
In the second half of last season, I got to race some events with the squad and I even got to finish first in a Tour of Britain stage, which was pretty unbelievable. Looking behind on 2015, I can't say that any of the victories I scored stands out, as all have been very important. On the other hand, there is a regret I have: missing the Richmond World Championships because of an injury. I would have loved to win the rainbow jersey on the road, just a couple of months after doing this on the track.
In December I got to attend my first training camp with Etixx – Quick-Step and realized immediately that this is more than a team, is a family. All the riders gave me a warm welcome and I had the opportunity to finally meet Tom Boonen, a real legend, who inspired me since many years ago. In Denia, together with the staff, I laid out my schedule for 2016: as it goes, after the Tour de San Luis, I will return to Europe for two French stage races, Tour du Haut Var and Tour de Provence.
Afterwards, I will commit to the track, hoping for a good performance at the World Championships in London. This year I will mix road with track, but I can't say I have any particular goals. I just want to develop, to become more professional and to stick to my philosophy, which is to make the most out of every opportunity and to enjoy each day, taking one thing at a time.
Photo: ©Tim De Waele