“One day I would like to be half as good as Alberto Contador”
It all happened so quickly as he crossed the finishing line, the winner with four seconds to spare. Isaac Cantón, on the under 23 Polartec Contador Foundation team, is the 2017 Spanish Cycling Champion. “I went to help the team and during the last stage, I realized that I could win,” Cantón explains, elated and surprised. “I still can’t believe it!”
Cantón’s last victory dates back to the Monje de Fuenlabrada Cyclist Club Grand Prize in 2013. That same year, at the age of 17, he made the life-changing decision to abandon football in favor of cycling. A cyclist from Argamasilla de Alba (Ciudad Real)he shares his journey of self-improvement that ultimately led to the Spanish Cycling Championship win and discusses his dreams for the future, “taking part in European and World events would be amazing.”
Q: What does winning the Spanish Championship mean for you?
A: That hard work, consistency and a daily routine pays off. It’s the realization of a dream that you had never dared think about. It means staying at home with friends to rest; training instead of hanging out with your girlfriend and skipping dinner with your mates because you have to get ready for the next morning. Often you’re racing somewhere unfamiliar with not even a family member for company.
However the win was a surprise. I didn’t even think about taking part in the Spanish Championship because I didn’t feel fit enough. My coach called me and asked me to lend the team a hand — even if you’re not fit enough you still need to support the team. I even called my parents to save them the trip to Soria where the championship was being held. During the last stage I entertained the thought of winning, because, as I advanced, I started to feel in better condition than I had first thought. I was with my partner, Diego Pablo Sevilla, and when I finally crossed the finish line I had a four second lead which meant I could feel even more pleased about it!
Q: So was the fact that you were unfit a blessing in disguise?
A: Unfit, no, I knew that I was not really that bad. But when you don’t see yourself as you would like to, your head starts spinning. As your legs start working, your mind starts to change, you see possibilities, things work out well and you start to see a more positive outcome. Of course, cycling is a physical sport, however it’s often your head that makes the difference. You have to tell yourself, here I am, I’ve been training for this for a long time and now I’ve got to win.
Q: You are now on the Polartec Contador Foundation team. What’s your focus?
A: One day I would like to be half as good as Alberto Contador and race in the Tour de France. However I have to work and concentrate on where I am now. I would like to take part in the mountainous Tour de l’Avenir which is what I have marked as my aim for this season. I have been selected for the Spanish team. The Tour de l’Avenir is like a “mini” Tour de France for Under 23 cyclists. It’s a 6–7 day race for “mountain climbers.” Taking part in the European race in August or September and the World race in October would be amazing.
Q: What role does the Alberto Contador Foundation play in your progress?
A: The Foundation’s role is vital. I joined the Under 23 team this season at the age of 21, because I couldn’t join the Junior team — not everyone is admitted. Now that I have won a place, they give you everything and train you as an individual as well as a sportsman. The Foundation has everything including a strong set of values and support so that when you have a bad day you have the ability to see the good side. For me, it has also meant racing in a Spanish Championship.
Q: What do you think of the new Polartec kits made with technical fabrics?
A: We have two kits, one for winter and one for summer and I can’t say which I prefer because they are both very good. The winter kit is amazing because it’s very waterproof and maintains body temperature. You don’t even notice that you are wearing the summer kit. It’s extremely comfortable and super lightweight. They are very different materials to those that currently exist.
Q: So, to the Tour de France, what do you admire most about Alberto Contador?
A: Alberto Contador never gives up. Even though things may not be going well, he keeps on training better, harder. He still has as much enthusiasm and hope as he did on the first day of the race. His mantra says it all “Where there’s a will, there’s a way” and that attitude is what makes him a winner.