19 September 2011
The bicycle reigns in Comarca de la Sidra
The rain, heavy at times in the morning, didn't spoil Sunday's sixteenth edition of the Emerald Peaks Classic at Comarca de la Sidra, the area of Asturias nicknamed "The Cider Shire."
E. Casero, La Nueva España
The participants at the start line in Nava's town hall plaza. Photograph © Ángel Espina
This year's main attraction was ex-professional cyclist Chechu Rubiera, a native of Gijón, who was delighted to be able to participate for the first time in this traditional race, organized by Club Nava 2000. "He will without a doubt be back next year," said the president of the club, Mario Iglesias.
Although this year's roster did not surpass the 547-strong group of 2010, the organization was very satisfied at having brought together nearly 500 cyclists (five of them women), which included the General Director of Sport of the Principality of Asturias, Marcos Niño. There were participants from Algeciras, Gerona, Alicante, Basque Country, Galicia and Castilla y León, among other regions. There was even one French rider registered, who was, however, unable to attend.
With points on offer for the XVI Circuito Cicloturista "Ciclismo a Fondo" and for the 2011 medium-distance Circuito, the race got started at nine o'clock in the morning at the town hall plaza in Nava. The itinerary included passage of El Campo, San Román and Villaviciosa; the cyclists ascended El Pedrosu, El Gobernador and the Alto de Buenos Aires. After the descent to Lastres and Colunga, the riders tackled the climb of the Alto de La Llana and Collá de Pandenes before arriving back in Nava for the finish. The fastest rider took two and a half hours to cross the finish line. It would have taken less time if not for a traffic problem, according to Iglesias, accounting for a delay of just over 45 minutes.
After the race came the awards ceremony and a chance for the participants and guests to enjoy an espicha, a traditional Asturian fiesta for drinking sidra, the Principality's renowned cider. Not only the top-placed riders were given prizes. There were gifts for everybody, given by the businesses who sponsored the event. Also recognized were the best-placed young rider (age 16), the oldest (a 71-year-old from Llanes), the women, and those who came from the greatest distance to attend.
Other than the 45-minute traffic hold-up, there was only one negative note to the day: a broken collarbone suffered by one of the cyclists.
5 May 2011
Chechu and Noah heading out for a ride
5 May 2011
Chechu Rubiera, "I always did what I liked, and will continue doing so"
The former cyclist, who entertained the celebration of "Asturian of the month” for December with memories of his career, will work on the design of a mountain bike
La Nueva España
From left to right, Amaya García, Ana Rubiera, Loli Vigil, José Luis Rubiera, Chechu Rubiera, Alfredo y Lucy Vigil, Vicente Fernández y Laura Pozuelo, with baby Noah Rubiera in the pushchair.
"It's an honour to receive this award, which has been given to World champions and Olympic medalists, something I never was. It has also been awarded to personalities of science and other fields of cultural activity. I don't know if I can reach that level. I hope to become worthy of it."
On Friday 4 March, former rider Chechu Rubiera received "Asturian of the Month" award for December 2010 offered by La Nueva España, rewarding the career of an exemplary sportsman, honored by the Gijón City Council, and new leader for the training of younger Asturian riders.
Accompanied by his closest family: his wife, Laura Pozuelo, his son Noah, his parents, José Luis and Loli, his sister Ana, head of department at La Nueva España, his brother-in-law Vicente Fernandez, his aunt and uncle Lucy and Alfredo Vigíl, and Amaya Garcia, widow of former professional cyclist Manuel Antonio García, 'Manzanillo', who helped Chechu become a professional rider with the Artiach team in 1995.
Ángeles Rivero, manager of La Nueva España, along with Melchor Fernández Díaz, director of Editorial Prensa Asturiana, presented Chechu with the first page of the newspaper dedicated to him with comments from cyclists Samuel Sanchez and Carlos Barredo, as well as Daniel Gutierrez Granda, former general Director of Sports in the Principality. He also received a cartoon that reflects his distinctive smile, and the traditional statue by José María Legazpi.
Melchor Fernández Díaz praised the image of Chechu Rubiera, "He was an outstanding rider, who did a great job for champion Lance Armstrong, but what is very special about him is that he is an extraordinary person. Although he did not win many stages, Asturians were very proud of his role in support of Armstrong. "
The athlete responded to the praise: "I always did what I liked, which is riding a bike, something I will continue doing. I also help, as Asturian coach for young riders, and do it with cycling schools and teams." The Baldornón rider also admitted that he has an offer pending from an Asturian company which plans to design a mountain bike.
Chechu Rubiera recounted many anecdotes about his sixteen-season career, during which he helped Lance Armstrong win five of his seven victories in the Tour de France. "At that time, there was no concern for clenbuterol, but Lance was obsessed that someone could put something in his food during the Tour de France. Thus, a soigneur was responsible for getting the food from the kitchen, where it was prepared by a private chef, and handed it to the U.S. cyclist.”
Loli Vigíl, who became emotional during the ceremony, said she could not watch the races of her son because she "could not bear to see him suffer so much." While his father, José Luis Rubiera, who attended many stages of the Giro d'Italia, does not forget the Izoard. "One day we left Genoa and began to climb the terrible Izoard, which never ended. I even cried, thinking that my son had to work so hard climbing those ramps, where at the end there was no vegetation at all. We waited for him at some curve, and I had to help many riders who had been victims of falls. It was very hard. I also had beautiful experiences, like seeing my son win some stages. "
Chechu Rubiera is still impressed by the quality of Armstrong as a cyclist: "He was a physical marvel. I never met such an athlete, with such physical condition. In a week of gym he was back in shape."
Another anecdote Rubiera recalled during the lunch held at the newspaper premises, was during one Tour de France, when team director Johan Bruyneel took Hincapie and Chechu aside and asked them not to leave the Texan's side for the entire stage. He had received an anonymous threat that someone was going to knock down Armstrong to prevent him from winning a new edition of the race. Nothing happened.
4 March 2011
The Vuelta a Asturias drops the Llanes stage
The City Council backs out of the race because of the (economic) crisis and the organisers choose to do it in four days this year (instead of five).
Llanes won't be part of the Vuelta a Asturias. The crisis prevents the City Council from including that stage, so the Aramo Cycling Club, organiser of the race, made corresponding arrangements in order to reduce the Asturian race to four days. The competition will be held from April 27 to May 1, while the Naranco mountain climb will take place on 2nd May.
All these dates are agreed by the UCI and integrated into the international calendar.
As a result, this year's edition of the Vuelta a Asturias will have arrivals in Gijón, Avilés, Piedras Blancas, Santuario del Acebo and Oviedo, with the novelty of a final circuit similar to a World championship.
Chechu Rubiera proposed the final circuit in which the riders will do eight laps in Oviedo. The town of Llanes has been an arrival point of the Vuelta a Asturias since 1997. It has been part of 39 editions of the race since it became for the first time the final stage in 1927.
Prestigious international riders like José Manuel Fuente, 'Fede' Etxabe, Rudy Dhaenens, Abraham Olano, Dimitri Konyshev, Luis Leon Sanchez and Samuel Sánchez have been victorious in Llanes.
In the coming edition of the race, the teams that will participate have the levels required by the agreement with the ProTour and Spanish Continental. Therefore, Movistar will be present, as well as Euskaltel, Geox, Andalusia and Caja Rural, plus guests like Orbea, Burgos Monumental and a Spanish guest team, as well as the Portuguese Barbot of Santi Perez.
Moreover, Carlos Barredo, brilliant winner of the Lagos stage in the Vuelta a España, is a starter today in the Vuelta a Murcia with his new Rabobank jersey, where he will also find Dani Navarro (Saxo Bank) with his leader, Alberto Contador.
2 March 2011
Sport and studies
La Voz de Asturias
Not long ago the Real Grupo Covadonga (Royal Covadonga Group) established the CAJASTUR scholarships to help Gijón resident athletes in their studies from the ESO (compulsory secondary education) level to University; these scholarships are exemplary in that the jury places more value on academic rather than sporting achievements.
It is proven that studying does not conflict with sport, quite the contrary; it contributes, together with the parents, in the education of the children, even if they have won a prize, at home they have learned a bit more than the social networks or the bottle (ed. demon drink?). The foundations are laid to allow a young athlete and good student to be able someday to occupy positions of responsibility in society. It has been demonstrated that there is enough time for everything. Those who dedicate themselves solely to studying and fail have no excuse, especially with the permissive educational system we have at all levels.
In elite sports, the percentage of professionals with university degrees is very high, except in football, where the dreams to become world figures must be added to the negative influence of parents who cannot see the need for a solid foundation. Then we see all this plethora of losers who waste their efforts and end their sports life with "a hand in front and the other behind" (ed. a Spanish expression?).
That's something which will never happen to those who have made sacrifices during their demanding professional career, have earned good money, and who at the end of their sports life are eligible for a job as interesting as any other person. Two recent retired figures, Chechu Rubiera and David Barrufet, don't need to beg for a job, their academic records are a guarantee.
28 February 2011
Las Cañadas, a privileged place for high altitude training
Many elite cyclists, walkers and marathon runners have used it as headquarters for their preparation
Las Cañadas del Teide National Park is one of the natural wonders of Canarian geography, a symbol of Tenerife island, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2007. It is the second most visited National Park in the world with 4 million visitors a year who enjoy the beauty of its landscapes, the variety of volcanic formations, vegetation and wildlife.
However, one of the attractions of Las Cañadas del Teide for the world of sport is its altitude, which is reflected in the number of athletes and teams who each year come to Tenerife to prepare their schedules for a season or a specific competition.
It is common to see many professional cyclists, both individually and with their respective teams, in training sessions along the roads of Las Cañadas del Teide, with the aim of achieving optimal preparation for the demanding schedule that lies ahead.
Several seasons ago, the Giro d'Italia was the first major test in the international cycling calendar, inducing important riders like Gotti, Savoldelli or Basso to choose Tenerife to prepare for the big event.
One can add figures like Heras, Olano, Hamilton and Chechu Rubiera to the riders of all nationalities who took advantage of fine weather, the roads of Tenerife, and the height of Las Cañadas Teide to perform their training work in preparation for their cycling season.
The Armstrong- Contador boost
In December 2008, Tenerife entered international cycling's most prestigious pages with the official arrival of the powerful Astana cycling team to the island, for pre-season training. At that time the attention of international cycling focused on the "undercover" and later "declared" war within the team led by Johan Bruyneel, between the two leaders: American seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, and Spaniard Alberto Contador - also winner of the three major international events, twice winner of the Tour, Giro and Vuelta, accompanied by the whole team including Chechu Rubiera. It was not the first time that both Armstrong and Contador visited Tenerife for training.
23 February 2011
Chechu Rubiera: "The helmet is not going to prevent you from an accident, but will save you from many blows"
La Nueva Espana
Former professional cyclist Chechu Rubiera gave a speech at the final session of the conference on urban mobility and cycling, and offered some practical advice when riding a bike.
1) Better with a helmet. "Although it’s not mandatory in the city, you should wear it. It’s not going to save you from an accident, but will save you from many blows. I started using it following the death of a team-mate (one of the Ochoa brothers) from Kelme in an accident (in 2000)."
2) Make sure others see you. Rubiera advised to dress in bright colours, with clips to hold trousers to avoid entanglement in the chain causing falls, and glasses to protect eyes from dust and mosquitoes.
3) Anticipate events. "We must try to predict drivers' moves. If a car stops, for example, it's very probable that someone will open a door to get out. That's dangerous. One must anticipate. And never take for granted that someone will give way at an intersection, even if you have priority."
4) Adjustment. The bike needs tuning and servicing like a car. Chechu Rubiera recommended especially: "it's necessary to check the tyre pressure and brake condition".
5) Pay attention to zebra crossings. The Asturian rider made a specific warning about these road signs. "When it's raining they are very slippery," he said, and recounted how during competitions they caused many falls in the peloton.
22 February 2011
Rubiera defends the use of the bike and expresses "envy" at the Amsterdam example
Former professional rider José Luis "Chechu" Rubiera encouraged citizens to use bicycles as a mode of urban transport and expressed the "envy" that he feels of the co-existence between cyclists and drivers in a city like Amsterdam.
This is one of the ideas put forward by Chechu Rubiera, who accumulated an average over 16 years of 30,000 miles a year of competition and training, during his speech at the round table of the conference, entitled "Tips on urban cycling. The inclusion of the bicycle in urban and university mobility".
During his speech at the Great Hall of the Edificio Historico of the academic institution, he reviewed the ideas that he tried to put into practice throughout his professional career, when he was "aware of the risk he assumed, but it was never an obstacle".
"These things are common sense," underlined Chechu Rubiera by stating some of the recommendations made, among which were mentioned, wearing a helmet, wearing bright-coloured clothes and using glasses.
The former team mate of Lance Armstrong said he attempts to "incorporate" the use of the bike for errands in his daily life.
He also cited as a "contradiction" the situation where a person parks their car in front of the gym club for 30 minutes of exercising, while the cyclist would save the 30 euros gym fee if he spent the same time riding the bike over the same distance instead of driving.
20 February 2011
The University of Oviedo is organising on Tuesday 22nd February the day of "Inclusion of the bike in urban and university mobility"
Former cyclist Chechu Rubiera will participate in a panel for practical advice on urban cycling from 5pm in the Aula Magna of the Edificio Historico, according to information from the academic institution collected by Europa Press.
"Cycling is an alternative urban transportation that can operate as transport within the university community membership". Thus, the potential of the use of the bike as a regular means of transportion will be analysed during this panel.
The second part of the panel will be devoted to offering tips for practice of urban cycling, and will count among its members former cyclist Chechu Rubiera.
20 February 2011
“Sportsday” celebration in Siero
Coaches Antonio Aragon and Juan José Domínguez, Viella Cycling Club and Chechu Rubiera were the stars of the day
The third annual gala of the council gave out 67 awards and four special prizes
"Sport teaches us values such as solidarity, fair play, effort, sacrifice, and makes us become better people. Sport is health, and health is the key element of happiness."
This is the message rider Chechu Rubiera wished to transmit to all athletes of the Third Siero Sports Gala, held on February 19th in La Fresneda, by the Municipality of Siero and the Sports Board, in collaboration with the Sports Directorate and the federations.
There were 62 laureats and five clubs, but special awards were granted to Chechu Rubiera, boxing coach Antonio Aragon Rios, Viella Cycling Club, and canoeing coach Juan José Domínguez, prizes granted by the federations and the athletes themselves, evaluating the careers and sporting merits.
A special award was offered to Chechu Rubiera, the Baldornón-born athlete (Gijón) now resident in the municipality of Siero. He discovered his vocation at the age of five, when he was given his first bike. It did not last long because it was stolen on the following weekend.
Rubiera started his career in the lower echelons of the Las Mestas (Gijón) Cycling School and Banesto, and turned professional in 1995 in the ranks of team Artiach, where he remained until 2000. He became well-known as a professional in 1997 when he won the queen stage of the Giro d'Italia and finished in tenth place in the overall standings.
In 2001 he signed with U.S. Postal Service, as Lance Armstrong’s team-mate, whom he accompanied in the last six [ed. five] of his seven victories in the Tour de France, in which he displayed his best efforts in the time trial and on the road. Among his victories: another stage in the Giro de Italia, the Tour of Alentejo and two Naranco mountain wins.
10 February 2011
Rubiera brings together the juniors this weekend
La Nueva Espana
Chechu Rubiera and Javier Pascal, the Asturian coaches for junior and cadet cycling categories, will organise the first training camp this weekend, in which 22 riders from the junior division will take part. They will meet meet in the Deva de Gijon camping lot to work on various themes.
Thus, tomorrow (today) Friday, they will train in the las Mestas velodrome, where relay and attack techniques will be practised. A second training session will take place, this time on the road, including mountain tests on Saturday, and finally an active relaxation training is set for the final day.
These training sessions will be accompanied by talks on various themes, some of them in English, given this time by pro cyclist Carlos Barredo and former professional Marcelino Garcia. Roberto Amores will talk about the theory and regulations. Former professional Vincente Prado will talk about mechanics and bike maintenance, and sports doctor Cuco Heredia will explain about "invisible" training, diet, rest, and analytical interpretations.
An important subject, to be remembered by all riders, is the subject of their studies, to which one hour and a half per day at least should be devoted.
9 February 2011
Chechu Rubiera will be honoured at the Clasica de los Lagos
Former professional cyclist will be the star attraction at the race that will take place on May 21st
La Nueva Espana
The Asturian former professional cyclist Chechu Rubiera, who retired at the end of 2010, after riding his final season with Team Radio Shack, will be honoured during the forthcoming edition of the "Lagos de Covadonga" Clasica Cicloturista Internacional, which will be held on 21st May in Cangas de Onis.
Rubiera, now Asturian coach for youngsters, was one of American Lance Armstrong's main gregarios, throughout his successful career. Chechu Rubiera’s achievements in the Grand Tours were: 8th in 2000, 10th in 1997 and 13th in 1998 in the Giro d’Italia, and 6th in 1999, 7th in 2001 and 11th in 2000 in the Vuelta a España. In the Tour de France, he only participated with US Postal Team, but despite his role as a gregario, he managed to finish 19th in 2003 and 22nd in 2002.
The Clasica Cicloturista Internacional "Lagos de Covadonga2, organised by the Navastur Cicloturista Club headed by Angel Pruneda, in collaboration with the entrepreneurs' association of the Picos de Europa (Incatur) and the Ayuntamiento de Cangas de Onis regions, among others, already counts approximately 1,500 registered cyclists for the coming edition.
The closing date for the entries will be set when the figure of 3,000 registered is reached, and in any case on 30th April at the latest. The race, which is not a competition, will start as usual from the town of Cangas de Onis at 9am on 21st May. The finish area is located in the public service area of Buferrera, in the heart of the national park beside the Picos de Europa.
29 January 2011
Chechu Rubiera "Asturian of the Month" for December
After 16 seasons as a professional rider and leader of his teammates, the Gijón rider will convert into coaching the young cycling generation.
La Nueva Espana
José Luis Rubiera Vigil, Chechu, professional cyclist for 16 years and new Asturian coach for young riders, has been honoured as "Asturian of the month" for December by La Nueva España, in recognition of his sporting career and his contribution to the development of cycling in Asturias, where he will lead a group of young riders who follow with dedication his example and his human values.
After a fautless career, where he shared five of the seven Tour de France won by American Lance Armstrong, and two of the World Championships won by Oscar Freire, Chechu will remain linked to the sport he has practised since he was a child, with his task as coach of the Asturian selection. The youngest will move ahead thanks to the skills and teaching of an exemplary sportsman.
Chechu Rubiera was born in Baldornón (Gijón) in January 1973. Last December, the Council paid him a warm tribute as a farewell to this career, the final act of his goodbye. Chechu is married and has a son, Noah. After his 16 years as a professional, he put an end to his career in 2010 but admits that, "I’ll be a rider all my life". At the age of 7 or 8, he had already participated in cycling races. His first trophy, a tiny cup which he keeps like a jewel in a piece of cloth, he won in a race along the Paseo de Begoña in Gijón.
Rubiera got the first sense of cycling in the cycling school of Las Mestas, (before) becoming a professional with the Artiach team after spending some time with the amateur Banesto team. Then he signed with Kelme, and won two legendary stages in the Giro d'Italia. Armstrong noticed his qualities and convinced him to sign with US Postal, which later became Discovery Chanel and Team RadioShack. He also competed with Team Astana. With the American leader, he shared five of the seven Tours de France won by Lance Armstrong. Before that, he helped, in their memorable victories, countrymen Fernando Escartín and Roberto Heras. He participated four times in the World Cycling Championships, and in two of them, helped Oscar Freire secure victory.
Chechu Rubiera combined his sports career with university studies and achieved the title of technico-industrial engineer, a profession he intends to practise in the future. He confesses that he decied to quit professional sports because time had come to enjoy his family and spend more time at home. Rubiera considers himself lucky to have been able to enjoy for years what he liked best and receive the love of so many fans.
The new Asturian coach is the leader of the current generation of Asturian professionals: Samuel Sanchez, Carlos Barredo, Dani Navarro, Santi Perez and others who have seen in him the elder brother, an example to follow in their daily training and to ask for advice, tips that nownow the youngest will also enjoy.
Chechu is so popular that Coto Bello, the summit in Aller, which was for the first time part of a stage in the last Vuelta a España, has been named after him "Cima Chechu Rubiera". He is the one who advised the organisers to use this climb in a competition.
29 January 2011
That afternoon in Alpe d’Huez
Chechu Rubiera, always very modest, keeps saying that he got enormous popular support which is not consistent with his record: two stages in the Giro d’Italia, two mountain stages "Subidas al Naranco", a race sponsored by La Nueva España, and a stage in the Vuelta en Alentejo. At the time, he chose to work for a leader and forget about personal victories. In addition to the emotion which he puts in his two Italian victories, Chechu is already in the history of cycling because he was Lance Armstrong’s right arm in 5 of his 7 Tour de France victories.
And it was probably an ascent to Alpe d’Huez which placed Rubiera in the group of best riders. No supporter of cycling, in any part of the world, could ever forget that afternoon when a group of selected riders accompanied Armstrong and Rubiera at the start of the ascent of the Alpine giant.
At one point, Chechu took the lead of the diminished peloton, accelerated and, when he had finished his job, the leader was alone, getting his way to another stage win and on the path to a new Tour de France victory.
This was one of those instants which are already printed in the collective memory of fans from all around the world. Rubiera tries to play down his achievements, but could not avoid being present at crucial moments in the best and most recent cycling history, and being acknowledged as one of the best Asturian sportsmen of his time.
11 January 2011
Chechu Rubiera will collaborate with the Construcciones Paulino Cycling Team and the Territorial Team
JL Cima, el Comercio
Everybody likes Chechu Rubiera. Knowing he was keen to help grass roots cycling, many have shown interest in securing his services.
The former Gijón rider started by offering his help to La Mestas, the club where he was trained, and will assist the technical director Chus Rodrigo in the popular cycling school. But, after this commitment, José Luis Junquera, President of the Principality Federation, has also secured his contribution to train the Asturian junior team in view of the Spanish championships.
In the Territorial club, he will assist ex-professional rider Javier Pascual from León, with whom Rubiera maintains a close friendship since they both belonged to the late Banesto team in their amateur days.
The Rubiera-Pascual partnership will also head the Construcciones Paulino Cycling Team which, together with the Ciudad de Oviedo team, is a focus (for cycling) in Asturias at the amateur level.
Thus, the Baldornon rider will become the new manager of the Asturian team, and therefore advise and monitor the young cyclists.
The Construcciones Paulino team adds to its project technical directors such as José Aurerlio Barbas (Ciudad de Oviedo) and Dani Fernandez, ex-rider of Clas Cajastur who, together with Monchi Alvarez, will complete the technical section of the team.
So, Rubiera will start a new phase after his long career as a rider in the international peloton and will remain linked to the sport that has, to this day, been his profession.