Iñigo Cuesta has indicated that he is likely to retire from racing in the wake of the decision not to award his Caja Rural team with a wild card place at this year’s Vuelta a España. Cuesta, who will be 42 this coming Friday, has described himself as “sad, knocked back” by the news, which will prevent him from continuing his record-breaking run of appearances at the Vuelta, which currently stands at 17.
Speaking to El Diario de Burgos, Cuesta said: “The Vuelta a España means a lot to me and I wasn’t expecting Caja Rural to be left out of it. I understand that Unipublic decided not to invite us for sporting reasons, but I don’t think that we are worse than some of the teams that have been invited. Perhaps the fact that this is our first year of existence has worked against us.”
The Spaniard has ridden his national tour every year since turning pro with Euskadi in 1994. His best finish was 13th in 2001 when he was with Cofidis. Last year, at the age of 41, he finished an impressive 26th for Cervélo TestTeam, before moving to Caja Rural when they stepped up to Pro Continental status. The team recently claimed the overall title at the Tour of Asturias thanks to Javi Moreno, who also finished second on GC in May’s Tour of Madrid.
“After this blow I’ve got little desire to carry on riding,” said Cuesta. “But I am still going to keep training and I will line up in all of the races that are on my programme.” The first of those will be the Route du Sud in mid-June.
Cuesta added that he is now likely to retire at the conclusion of the Tour of Burgos, which takes place in his home region. “If in the end I can’t take part in the Vuelta a España, I don’t think that there could be a better race than the Vuelta a Burgos in which to bid my final farewell. These two races are, along with the Tour of the Basque Country, my three favourite races, and being able to ride a big tour in my home region would be the perfect send-off.”
He did acknowledge, however, that there is still a faint hope that he might yet ride the Vuelta based on Caja Rural’s position as first reserve for the Spanish grand tour. “Some years teams have dropped out at the last moment and the reserve team has been able to ride, so there’s no need to think that the situation is totally hopeless,” said Cuesta.
There have been some suggestions in the Spanish press that the fact that ASO now own a majority share in Unipublic has resulted in French teams being favoured for the Vuelta. However, this hardly stands up as Cofidis are the only French squad to have received a wild card place, and their line-up is set to feature David Moncoutié, who has won the Vuelta’s King of the Mountains title for the past three years.
The other teams granted wild card places were Andalucia-CajaGranada, Geox and Skil-Shimano.