Íñigo Cuesta ends his career at 42 years of age and after riding 17 consecutive Vueltas a España
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Monday, August 08, 2011

Íñigo Cuesta ends his career at 42 years of age and after riding 17 consecutive Vueltas a España

by Shane Stokes at 7:12 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
End of the road for experienced Spanish veteran

Inigo CuestaEnding things with a solid 44th overall in the Vuelta a Burgos, perhaps the oldest rider in the peloton has hung up his wheels after 18 seasons in the pro peloton. Íñigo Cuesta has decided to stop, his decision influenced greatly by the inability of his Caja Rural team to get a wildcard invitation to the upcoming Vuelta a España.

Cuesta, who is now 42 years of age, turned pro back in 1994 with the Euskadi-Petronor team and has ridden with some of the biggest squads in the sport since then. He raced with Once between 1996 and 2000, with Cofidis between 2001 and 2004, with Saunier Duval-Prodir in 2005 and with Team CSC between 2006 and 2008.

Since then, he was Carlos Sastre’s right hand man on the Cervélo Test Team in 2009 and 2010, moving across with the Spaniard from Saxo Bank after the latter won the Tour de France.

Cuesta had hoped to continue racing with a top-level team this season but the winding-down of the Cervélo project at the end of last year complicated things. He ultimately signed for Caja Rural, a much smaller squad, but still hoped to ride the Vuelta a España. It was not to be, though, as the team was passed over for selection.

Aside from the invaluable help he’s given to his team leaders, Cuesta clocked up some very solid performances of his own. He won the Vuelta al Pais Vasco in 1998, and took stage six of the Dauphiné Libéré two years later. His year with Saunier Duval-Prodir saw him take the fifth stage of the Volta a Catalunya plus the mountains classification there.

Yet his biggest achievement didn’t come on any one day, but rather after years of consistent racing. Last year his record of a staggering 17 consecutive starts in the Vuelta a España saw the organisers award him dossard number one, a big honour for a rider who never finished in the top ten of a Grand Tour. That consistency is remarkable in itself, though, and formed a big chunk of his overall statistic of riding 27 Grand Tours. He also rode seven Tours de France and three Giri d’Italia.

Cuesta hopes to remain within cycling in some capacity, although the nature of that remains to be determined. He admitted that not getting the Vuelta invite hastened the end of his career. “It was a very hard blow not to go,” he told Marca. “When it [the decision] was said to me, the spark left.”

His current team manager Xabier Artetxe recognises the significance of his career. "To achieve what he has done is very difficult. It is not easy to be so long at the highest level,” he stated, with some justification.

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