Of the river, faithful escort of the first editions of this race full of tradition in an area with an enviable cycling passion, only the name remains. Nowadays, since a few years ago, in the Guadiana Circuit more than the fourth longest river course in the Iberian Peninsula, the protagonist of the itinerary is the village of Magacela and its steep wall, the hot spot that is crossed several times and hardens every year the development of the race. The Guadiana Circuit has been opening for some years the Spanish Cup for the elite U23 and youth categories, and also for the Masters. A vibrant and intense weekend in Don Benito that returns, faithful to its appointment, this weekend.
On Saturday afternoon the competitive menu starts, as far as the EOLO-KOMETA Cycling Team Developtment structure is concerned, with the U19 race. A classic route, with three passes through the town of Magacela that recover the physiognomy of 2021 after some works in the streets of the town of Badajoz, that will welcome the competitive debut in the season 2023 for the team directed by Gorka Beloki. Iker Díaz, Balint Feldhoffer, Samuel Flórez, Álvar Martín, Balazs Pollner, Iván Polo and Manuel Sanroma, six second-year riders and one first-year rider, make up the ‘seven’.
Iker Díaz, from Bilbao, points out: “The debut in the category is always very exciting by itself and to do it in a Spanish Cup is a plus. I have a good feeling, we have worked very well in the training camp in Oliva, I feel very comfortable with all my team-mates and we have a good team to do well. The profile suggests that everything will be resolved in a small group that can leave Magacela, let’s see how the race develops. I’m looking forward to doing well and helping the team as much as possible”.
On Sunday morning, the ‘queen’ race, the one that generates more attention and expectation, the one that gathers more public; the one of the party in the streets of Magacela: the elite and U23 race. Also on a classic route, four laps of the Magacela and La Haba circuit. Haimar Etxeberria, Ramón Fernández, Antonio González, Raúl López, Andrea Montoli, Fran Muñoz and Pablo Uría will be the seven riders taking part in the race in Extremadura. A good part of the group comes from the Manolo Sanroma Memorial, after a good group performance.
Raúl López, leaving his classes at the university, comments: “I’ve never run this race and I was still itching to do it one day, because it’s a classic on the calendar, with a long tradition, and it’s nice to get to know and experience these races from the inside. What you always talk to colleagues or people in the world who have been there, what you get out of it, is that it is a race that is characterized by the wind and how the group breaks up the passes through Magacela. Personally, I’m feeling good, better than ever, although I still have a little way to go before I’m in top form. We are going with a vocation to help the team, to enjoy the race and to let ourselves be seen”.
Gorka Beloki, director of the U19 team: “We are already facing the first race of the year, and nothing less than the Guadiana Circuit, which is always exciting and in this category leaves very nice and competitive races. It is not a race in which the hardest climb is decisive, because there is a long distance to the finish line, but it does provide an important amount of wear and selection and requires to be very attentive to avoid dangerous cuts. We are travelling with a very strong team, with riders with a proven ability to ride, cyclists in very good shape and also with top speed”.
Rafa Díaz Justo, director of the U23 team: “We arrive at the start of a new edition of the Spanish Cup with a very cohesive team, with a very good work these last two months and a very interesting approach. The Cup is a tournament as special as it is complicated and we always face it in the same way: race by race, managing each event independently with specific objectives; and later on we make a more exact composition in terms of the general classification. It is an intense competition in a short period of time, it requires a dose of luck and respect for health and falls. And this edition, with Fran’s victory last year, it takes a special point, no doubt. The Guadiana Circuit is the first race and, as every year, there are some certainties and some unknowns: there are riders who have been seen to be in a great moment and others who are really going to start here. It is a very fast race, where the hardness is very concentrated in time and space and, with the wind permitting, there is a lot of terrain afterwards for regrouping”.