My friend Matt, the man behind that awesome blog called The Inner Ring, sent me this morning a link to an australian forum where aussie cycling fans are choosing their ‘obscure rider’ for 2011 Tour Down Under. What does this mean? Well, every year the members of PACC.org.au forums take one anonymous rider and make him a star, giving him big support, painting his name on the road... That stuff. In 2010, they took FDJ’s rider Artur Vichot; this year, their ‘obscure rider’ is going to be... ¡Movistar’s Ángel Madrazo!
And, of course, receiving a DM from Matt with that information, being me a Spanish U23 journalist... It was kind of a challenge I was eager to accept... Defend Ángel Madrazo and demonstrate he is pretty much a name to follow, a future world-class rider... rather than a geek, laughable cyclist. [[But also admiting that he looks alike that famouse McLovin]]
Born in 1988, Madrazo has always been one of the most promising young riders in Spain. During his juniors years (16-17 yo) he gathered 25 wins; as sub23, he won the prestigious Copa del Porvenir, a Challenge for amateur riders composed by around half-dozen one day races. In 2008, he raced a few days as stagiaire with Scott-American Beef (ex Saunier Duval) and was later signed by Caisse d’Épargne, biggest team in Spain with French sponsor.
His performance on this two first complete seasons as professional rider has been, at least, satisfactory. His lack of results is explained by the fact he has only taken part in difficult races, mostly the least prestigious ProTour competitions, like Tour de Pologne or Eneco Tour... but also in Classic Monuments like Roubaix or Lombardia. The sensations given by Madrazo have been fair, although his highest clasification has been a 9th place in a stage of Route du Sud.
For example, in the last Giro de Lombardia, he was in a good breakaway during the final part of the race with some well-considered riders as Vladimir Gusev and Giovanni Visconti; he was only dropped in Colma di Sormano climb. Furthermore, in a stage of latest Tour de Pologne edition, he was caught by the peloton at only one kilometer to the end of the race after a strong attack on a climb in a very Zoidberg performance.
The future looks bright for Madrazo. Nowadays, he is a decent climber and rouleur; a complete rider. His first shines as pro are expected for the final part of this year or in the start of the next season in hilly classics and one week races like Tirreno-Adriático or País Vasco, courses where Madrazo can fly like the Sparrow of Cazoña he is claimed to be.
You can name Madrazo ‘obscure rider’ and tease him, but you can also be sure that you will talk about Madrazo in a few years as a huge cyclist... and maybe still tease him.