Gorka Beloki, new head of the Contador Foundation youth team: “I am passionate about training, it is the purest form of cycling”

The Gipuzkoan coach Gorka Beloki (Beasain, 1978) joins the management structure of the Contador Foundation for the 2023 season, in which he will be more specifically, although not exclusively, in charge of the supervision and management of the U19 structure. The Cantabrian Guillermo Gutiérrez will not continue in the same team this coming season after ten seasons as director. Beloki will work closely with Rafa Díaz Justo. “We want to strengthen the harmony with the U23 structure to enhance the weight of the U19 squad as its nursery and quarry”, tells.

Beloki thus returns to a structure in which he already carried out management duties during the 2017 season and which also had a couple of episodes during the second part of the recently completed 2022 campaign: he directed the juniors in the Vuelta a Valladolid and was in charge of the U23 team, also present those days in the Volta a la Provincia de la Valencia, in the Vuelta a Salamanca.

“I am very happy for the opportunity and that Fran Contador has thought of me for this job. It is a real honour to work with the Foundation again. Both the U19 category and the U23 category are my favourites. I am passionate about training, I think it is the purest form of cycling and the work that is done here is very rewarding, sometimes almost more than in professional cycling”, emphasises the new director of the formation.

Beloki was a professional rider for five seasons, five seasons between 2001 and 2005, during which he rode for ONCE-Eroski, Brioches La Boulangère and Andalucía-Paul Versan. An injury forced him to abandon professional cycling, but since then he has continued to be linked to the sport, working as an assistant in various professional structures, as director of the Lizarte team or Team Manager in structures such as the now defunct Infisport-ArabaEus or Rias Baixas.

“Obviously results are always an incentive, but never, and even less so in this category, are they a final, definitive and immovable objective. Winning for the sake of winning without knowing the job, without valuing the effort and without respecting teammates and rivals is not worth it”, he reflects. “Results are nice and have their importance, but this is relative. As part of always being present and being a reference in the good work and behaviour that characterise the Foundation, the most important thing is that the boys learn this profession and know how to achieve their objectives by managing their bike with their studies. Because studies are key, an essential part. This sport is very difficult and complicated and all the kids, logically, dream of being professionals one day”.

“The essence of this sport is the same, but the truth is that cycling has changed a lot in the last five years”, adds Gorka Beloki. “Today we live in a top level where names like Evenepoel, Pogacar, Rodríguez… Very young riders who are already in the front line, in top teams with a big budget and with long term contracts. I think it would be a mistake for other sporting projects without such long sponsorships, without such strength, to enter into this game”.

“In a scenario where there are professional teams with fifteen, twenty, thirty million budgets, against which you can’t compete financially, to generalise this dynamic would mean in the end that many youngsters would become broken toys when in this sport, beyond the current trend, we continue to see riders of 26, 27, 28 years of age who mature or finish exploding. We are talking about people who walk. And not everyone matures at that age. It would be a mistake because in the end those kids who can’t, and shouldn’t, dedicate themselves 100% to cycling due to different circumstances, from studies to family issues, wouldn’t have a place or the option to mature. And they would be lost”, he laments.

Fran Contador, general manager of the Foundation’s teams, is very satisfied with this addition. “Gorka is a great professional, with experience in many areas of cycling and at different levels and with very clear ideas that are in line with what we think the structures of the Foundation should be. We have had the opportunity to work with him in the past and it was clear to us that he was the ideal person for this role. Gorka’s arrival will allow us to strengthen the flow between the U19  and U23 structures, something fundamental in these times that cycling is going through. I would like to thank Guillermo Gutiérrez for the exceptional work he has done for a whole decade with this squad, this will always be his home and we hope that in the future our paths can meet again”.