Tirreno-Adriatico. Simone Velasco takes third on a hilly Stage 5 – Astana

Tirreno-Adriatico. Simone Velasco takes third on a hilly Stage 5

Simone Velasco spent a very solid day in the saddle, taking a strong third place on Stage 5 of the Tirreno-Adriatico.

The Astana Qazaqstan Team rider broke away clear from the peloton in a big group of riders somewhere after 70 km of racing. The riders in the breakaway worked well together, creating a good gap, while Velasco became one of the most active riders there, always staying in front.

On the penultimate climb the French rider Warren Barguil launched an attack, at the end of the day taking a solo win. Simone Velasco immediately started chasing, but, finally, finished third, 14 seconds behind the stage winner.

“Well, it took an hour and a half for a group to break away clear after a lot of attacks. We always stayed in front, trying to escape, and in a moment I saw my chance and I joined the right group. Before the start together with the Sports Directors and trainers we were discussing our strategy and it was decided that we have to send our rider in a breakaway which on this stage could be a successful one. Once we got a gap, all together we started working well, keeping a good advantage. After a tough day yesterday, today I felt much better and on the climbs I felt like I have good legs, always staying at the front and keeping a good pace. Well, in a moment Barguil attacked and I missed this move, I tried to follow him a bit later, but it did not work. It was a good chance for a stage win, but I finished third. However, I am happy with the legs and my feeling during the stage. I feel like I am improving day by day and I hope I will get a really good form to the next races”, – said Simone Velasco.

There was another battle of the GC contenders behind the shoulders of the break. Astana’s team leader Miguel Angel Lopez always stayed in the race leader group, supported by Harold Tejada, and finished this stage on 19th position.

After Stage 5 Lopez moved up to fifth place in the General Classification, 1 minute behind the race leader Tadej Pogacar.

Photo credit: @Gettysport

— Vitalii to www.astana-qazaqstan.com

Alexandr Riabushenko, Simone Velasco and Michele Gazzoli set to join Astana Qazaqstan Team – Astana

Alexandr Riabushenko, Simone Velasco and Michele Gazzoli set to join Astana Qazaqstan Team

Three more riders will join Astana Qazaqstan Team in the new season: Alexandr Riabushenko, Simone Velasco and neo-pro Michele Gazzoli all signed a two-year contract for 2022 and 2023.

Belarusian rider Alexandr Riabushenko (26) turned pro in 2018 after a few impressive victories: he won the U23 European Road Championships in 2016 and Piccolo Giro di Lombardia in 2017. During these four years in the WorldTour Riabushenko continued to develop as a professional rider, gaining experience and taking first important results: in 2018 he was second at a stage of Itzulia Basque Country, in 2019 he won Coppa Agostoni, reached the podium at Gran Premio Citta di Lugano and finished fourth in the road race of the European Games, in 2020 Alexandr was third both at Memorial Marco Pantani and Coppa Sabatini.

The 2021 season was impacted by a hand fracture in a bad crash at the Tour of the Alps, however Riabushenko still was able to get some good performances as, for example, second place on a stage of Settimana Ciclistica Italiana and 11th place at Vuelta a Castilla y Leon.

“After four years in one team I feel like it is time to get a change in my career, to do a new step towards my development as a rider. I can say that I really like Astana and I was cheering for this team since I was junior. It is a great team and I saw many champions riding for this team and scoring many big successes in Astana colors. It is a pleasure and honor for me to join this team and to become a part of its history. I am ready for any calendar and any race in the upcoming season, I just want to be useful to the team, trying to help the leaders to reach their biggest goals. Of course, I would like to get a chance to ride for my personal result and I hope it will come at the one-day races, for example, as I like it a lot. But also would be great to do the Giro or the Tour, as my only Grand Tour experience was La Vuelta in 2020. I am looking forward to start the new season with Astana Qazaqstan Team”, – said Alexandr Riabushenko.

Italian rider Simone Velasco (25) is one-day races specialist with a good sprint from a reduced group. After a number of important successes on the Under 23 level, Velasco turned pro in 2016 with a pro continental team. Trofeo Laigueglia (2019), a stage at Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali (2019), a stage at Tour du Limousin (2021) and a third place at a stage of Tirreno-Adriatico (2021) can be named about rider’s best results.

“For every rider who is turning professional the biggest dream is to join a WorldTour team, to reach the highest level of cycling. For me Astana is the best solution, the best team I could join, and I am really happy with that. It is an honor for me to meet big riders in this team and at the same time to work for them and to help them to reach the goals. I hope I will be able to do another step ahead in my progress and also I hope I will have a chance to show all my abilities, working hard for the team. Of course, I would like to find my chance too in any race which would suit me and where the team would trust in me”, – said Simone Velasco.

Michele Gazzoli (22) is preparing to begin his professional career with Astana Qazaqstan Team. This year the young Italian rider impressed many specialists with a strong performance at the U23 World Road Championships, where he finished fourth, and at the famous Italian U23 one-day race Gran Premio della Liberazione, won by Michele in a sprint from a reduced leading group.

“I am really happy to come to Astana Qazaqstan Team as for me it is one of the best teams in the world. I am excited with the chance to ride side by side with the biggest stars as Vincenzo Nibali and Gianni Moscon, for example. I know that my first year in the WorldTour will be a hard one and I have to learn many things and to gain a lot of experience, but I am ready for this challenge. My main goal for the new year is to learn as much as possible and to help the team in the best possible way. I have a dream to start at the Giro d’Italia and I hope I’ll do it one day, but right now I just hope to start the season with the team and to keep on working day by day”, – said Michele Gazzoli.


“I welcome the new riders in Astana Qazaqstan Team. Alexandr Riabushenko is already well-known young rider, who showed some good results in one-day races. I think we can keep on improving this direction for him but, of course, Alexandr can provide a good help to our leaders in stage races too. Simone Velasco is going to step into the WorldTour with our team and I think, this new chapter of his career will motivate him. We saw him improving fast over the last few years and it seems that Velasco can strengthen our one-day race direction. Michele Gazzoli is a young rider and Astana Qazaqstan Team will be his first professional team. We see a big potential in this rider, and I think that in our team he can find all necessary for a good development on a professional level”, – said Alexandr Vinokurov, General Manager of Astana Qazaqstan Team.

Photo credit: @Gettysport

— Vitalii to www.astana-qazaqstan.com

Tenemos que hablar de Simone

La retirada de los Juegos Olímpicos
hace unos días de Simone Biles pone de manifiesto la importancia de la salud
mental en los deportistas, especialmente en los deportistas de élite. Tal y
como ella misma decía “tenemos que proteger nuestra mente y cuerpo y no
limitamos a hacer todo el mundo quiere que hagamos”.  Teniendo en cuenta que solo ella y su entorno
más cercano tengan toda la información, 
varios son los motivos que pueden haber llevado a Simone a tomar esta


Por un lado, el foco mediático al
que están sometidos los deportistas de élite en unos JJOO es extremadamente
alto y en muchas cosas puede hacer que no sean capaces de soportar la presión
si no se tienen las estrategias psicológicas adecuadas. Cuando un deportista se ve expuesto a situaciones que pueden suponer
una amenaza, aparece el temor a no cumplir las expectativas que han puesto
sobre él
y en ese momento, se deja de disfrutar del deporte y aparecen la
ansiedad y el estrés. Fijándonos en sus últimas actuaciones antes de su
retirada, es evidente que algo estaba pasando

                                                                    Simone Biles no estará en la final de gimnasia de Tokio 2020 por un  "problema médico"

Por otro lado, la cultura del
esfuerzo extremo que está tan de moda últimamente. Lemas como el famoso  “Si quieres, puedes” o  “Impossible is nothing” nos invitan a
superarnos cada vez más, pero sin medir las consecuencias. Quizás Simone Biles
lleva mucho tiempo sometida a unos niveles
de autoexigencia extremos que si no tienen unas habilidades de regulación
emocional adecuadas terminan por explotar
y que en el caso de Biles han
reventado en estos Juegos Olímpicos de Tokyo.


Quisiera destacar también una frase
dicha por ella misma, en la que afirmaba que todo el apoyo social recibido en
los últimos días le ha hecho ver que “soy
más que mis logros y que mi gimnasia, algo que nunca había creído”
. Esto
que puede parecer poco importante, es clave tenerlo presente, ya que cuanto más
tiempo y esfuerzo le dedicamos a una actividad, más tendemos a asociar nuestro
valor como persona a dicha actividad, olvidándonos de otras fuentes de
autoestima, corriendo el riesgo de asociar todo nuestro valor como persona a
esa única actividad.

 Desconozco cuáles pueden ser ahora
las soluciones. En cualquier caso, el trabajo psicológico se antoja fundamental
y no solamente relacionado con el deporte de élite, sino con la persona en
particular. Hay algo que Biles ya ha demostrado, que es un enorme autoconocimiento
de sí misma para saber cuál es el momento de parar y necesitar cuidarse y eso
ya es un paso importantísimo para su mejora. A partir de ahí, el hecho de poder
estar apartada de todo el foco mediático del que hablábamos al principio del
artículo y resguardarse en su entorno cercano que la escuche y acompañe sin
juzgarla puede ser clave.

Por último, me gustaría dejar una
reflexión en el aire. ¿Qué hubiese
ocurrido si la lesión de Biles hubiese sido física?
Probablemente nada,
simplemente sería una cuestión de azar o de mala suerte, debido a que todavía
asociamos lo psicológico a la debilidad. Existe en el imaginario colectivo la
idea de que los deportistas de élite no pueden fallar  y deben rendir siempre al máximo,
prácticamente actuando para nosotros como si fuesen títeres que nos entretienen
en cada Europeo, en cada Mundial o en cada Juegos Olímpicos.

El caso de Simone Biles nos ha
demostrado justo lo contrario: que la salud mental importa tanto o más que la
salud física.

— Jacobo Ceide to jacoboceide-psicologiadeportiva.blogspot.com