“Grandfather” Cuesta not quitting yet
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Thursday, November 12, 2009

“Grandfather” Cuesta not quitting yet

by Ben Atkins at 2:54 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Despite turning 40 in June this year, Spanish veteran Iñigo Cuesta of the Cervélo TestTeam shows no signs of wanting to retire just yet. “I don’t think of the years, but in training and taking care of myself,” he said in an interview with Spanish sports paper La Marca.

“After 2010 I’ll probably retire,” he conceded, “although I feel like a kid. The key is in the head, not in age.”

This September saw Cuesta surpass Fede Etxabe’s record of 15 consecutive starts in la Vuelta a España, Spain’s national Tour, to set a new outright record of 16; although Etxabe completed all 15 of his Vueltas, and Cuesta abandoned five of his. In the current peloton, only José Vicente Garcia Acosta of Caisse d’Epargne comes close to this, with 13.

Cuesta turned professional relatively late, at the age of 24, for the Euskadi team when his team leader was Peio Ruiz Cabestany. "I remember going up to Sierra Nevada,” said Cuesta of his first Vuelta in 1994. “Peio began to feel ill and I had to stay with him, beside him; until they gave me freedom to go forward. There I realized what this sport is and what this life is, because everything can change overnight. It is something you should not forget: one day you're in front and another behind. But you must not surrender."

Sixteen years later and Cuesta has the same enthusiasm as he had when he first turned professional. "I am fortunate to be able to do what I like and what I had always dreamed. What more can I ask?" He said. "When you're doing well, do not think about the years you have. Because the key is not on age but on the head," he repeated.

"I do not think I have 40 years, but best to train, to rest ... Maybe, that is a somewhat unusual case, because there are not many riders who, at my age, still remain in the peloton but I maintain the illusion of the first day and so far I can easily go out and train.

“On the contrary,” he went on, “I am enjoying the bike. Sometimes they say 'you’re like a kid'. And yes, I feel that way when I train because in this sport if you're not careful, you have nothing to do. We must be professional and, like any other job, we should do our best."

"People talk about the record of participations in the Vuelta and, although 16 is just a number, I realize that it has some importance,” he continued. "Hopefully, at age 41 I’ll also be here. I have a contract with Cervélo for next year and, if the team wants, I will return to the Vuelta. Then, after 2010, I’ll probably retire, although so far nothing is definite.”

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