Spaniard Mikel Pradera has left the professional peloton after 10 seasons. Pradera competed the last two seasons for the Portuguese Benfica team. He started his career at Euskaltel-Euskadi in 1999 and switched over to Spanish power house ONCE in 2001. From 2004 to 2006 he competed for the Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne outfit. While he never had a win as a pro, his work was always highly valued.
"I leave cycling very proud of the life it allowed me to live and everything that cycling has given to me. I am just sad that I never was able to dedicate a win to my family or my supporters," Pradera told Biciciclismo.
Pradera denied a lack of ambition. "I was ambitious as a domestique, and not very selfish." He is grateful to those who directed him. "I lived through good and bad times, both with Ruben Gorospe and Manolo Sáiz. Gorospe showed us all what life in the professional cycling was like."
His favorite directeur was Sáiz. "With him I had better performances and he was more concerned about his people. Sáiz was very demanding, but very human, too. I am appalled by what has been said about him. The cycling was different at Benfica. It was more easy going, which has given me a lesson of generosity."
The Spanish worked for great leaders, but also has his own idols. "I don't appreciate the popularity and fame of riders like Merckx and Indurain so much as when I was a child. Oscar Aranguren has really inspired me – he was a very good friend. He was disciplined, a gentleman from head to toe and a great rider. But sadly he died alongside his girlfriend, Nerea, in a traffic accident – that was an enormous blow for me".(MP and AS)