Images: Maurizio Borserini / SprintCyling
For some established cycling teams, it is a given that they’ll start a major race like the Giro d’Italia. For others, it’s a fight to earn one of the coveted invites. Eolo-Kometa has steadily grown to the point where it earned its first invitation to the Giro d’Italia two seasons ago and quickly made good on it with a summit victory atop the Zoncolan. Two years later and the team grabbed another stage win with Davide Bais’s victory on Stage 7, in addition to a tight hold on the climber’s jersey.
Eolo-Kometa found its way to the Giro’s start in Ortona, on the Adriatic Coast not through a stroke of luck or an unexpected flourish of form. Instead, this team has been on the march for years, steadily building up its experience and results.
And much of this winning philosophy comes from the leadership of Alberto and Fran Contador. Having won the Giro, along with the Tour and Vuelta a España, it’s plain to see how Alberto Contador contributes to Eolo-Kometa’s rising fortunes. His brother, Fran, has been his right-hand man throughout his legendary career. Fran has a clear vision for how the team has progressed and will evolve.
“From the beginning, what we have wanted is to grow, but without compromising the work in the lower categories or the quality of the project,” said Fran Contador, General Manager of the Eolo-Kometa team. “We are working to grow for the future, which entails an increase in the budget. But without any hurry, taking the right steps at the right time, taking care of the base without mortgaging it, as we believe that it is a differentiating aspect of the project.”
When Eolo came on board as a title sponsor, the support, combined with that of Kometa, helped boost the team from Continental to Pro Team status. Eolo was also instrumental in helping the team earn that coveted invitation to the Giro.
“[Eolo] were so committed from the beginning that they decided to sponsor the Giro, as well as the Italian classics at the beginning of the season,” added Fran Contador. “All this demonstrates the involvement and desire with which Eolo entered the world of cycling and its contribution to our project from the first year in the Pro Team category.”
Sponsorship like that is essential, but it only works with performance in the races. Fortunately, Alberto Contador remains just as keen on pro cycling as he was in his racing years. It’s just now he’s passing his knowledge along to the next generation.
“Having Alberto in the team, especially at the level of race vision, strategy, motivational factor with talks to the guys through his experiences, especially in a race like the Giro, is very important,” said Fran Contador.
“In fact, before the Giro, Alberto, Ivan [Basso], and myself, we have shared the way we think the team has to ride in our most important race of the year, and our mission is to make the sports area, starting with the directors, aware of how we want it to function during the Giro. Then during all the stages, we comment daily, also with Alberto, exchanging views, and it’s a real luxury to have his help in terms of consultations and feedback.”
The next few weeks of racing in Italy will be a test of that expertise and a milestone in the Eolo-Kometa team’s development. However, beyond the races, the team has a mission to work with the Alberto Contador Foundation, which is dedicated to raising awareness about strokes and getting more people on bikes.
“We rely on the teams, through their visibility, to raise awareness of our Foundation and the social aims in which it works. The aim is to reach as many people as possible so that they know about the work we do at the Foundation,” added Fran Contador.
As Eolo-Kometa grows and earns more opportunities to compete at the sport’s highest level, that message is bound to reach more people. And it certainly sounds like this won’t be the last Giro for this young team.
“The ambition of the team is to continue growing, maintaining our philosophy, our way of working, taking care of the base, taking care of the image,” said Fran Contador. “And on a sporting level, of course, to win as many races as possible, which is something that motivates us all and encourages us to continue working to make a place for ourselves among the best teams in the world.”
As the Giro heads into the high mountains, look for Eolo-Kometa to be on the hunt for more stage wins and a defense of the climber’s jersey.