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Throughout the Vuelta a España, VeloNews will be talking to some of the unsung heroes in the peloton – those riders who battle on each day without the recognition the major GC favorites or sprint stars receive.
Cycling means different things to different people.
For Andreas Kron, it gave him an escape when his mother died from cancer, but it also brings him closer to her.
Kron’s mother died in 2011, when he was a teenager making his early steps into serious racing. Now 23, the Danish rider was always passionate about cycling, but the sport also gave him an outlet during a trying and difficult moment in his life.
As he has climbed into the professional ranks of cycling, his mom has followed him the whole way. Where once the bike was an escape for Kron, he now has her with him in his mind when he has a difficult day on the bike.
“I started racing when I was nine years old. It was really some freedom for me to take my bike and at the same time my mom was sick with cancer,” Kron told VeloNews before the Vuelta a España. “She passed away 10 years ago, and cycling was really for me some freedom that I could take my bike and came away from all the bad at home.
“Now is a place where my mom is always with me,” he said. “I think if I don’t have my bike and all my friends when I was younger in bike racing, I think it will be really something difficult to come through that period. When you are young and you know that your mom is really sick and has been sick for eight years and you know last few years for you will lose your mom, cycling really helped me through that time.
“And now, I still have my mom in my mind. Not every time I go on my bike, but in hard periods, I really have my mom with me and always think about her.”
Kron’s mom didn’t get to see him make it to the professional ranks, but she saw his formative years in the sport. Even as she was getting sicker, she would watch her young son doing the sport he loved.
Kron remembers when he had a chance to race at the Copenhagen Six Day event, as part of one of the support races alongside the professionals, his mom would be out each evening to see him compete.
“Every day my mom was out and watching me racing, and then we also end up winning the race and it was really something special and that my mom was capable to do it,” he said. “Also, still one and a half months before my mom passed away, my mom was out and seeing my bikes race. My mom has been really a big part of it and always watched it.”
Kron’s father has been an equally big part of his racing career, and he tries to watch his son race when he can.
It’s a little bit harder now with COVID-19 causing travel problems, and Kron now traveling Europe and the world to compete, but he will be at the Vuelta a España to cheer him on.
“My dad is really proud to see how I developed in cycling. After that hard period, my dad was a really big part that meant I could come through that time, and he also helped me go to bike races and everything,” he said. “I think he’s really proud and he will come down to the Vuelta and he will follow the race the second week. And he really looks forward to seeing it and for him is also something big.
“He doesn’t see me race so much because of COVID but I think this year but he was at the Tour de l’Ain and then watched the last day and then the Vuelta but that’s it for this year.”
Fantasy league and meeting heroes
After a strong debut pro season, where he won stages of the Volta a Catalunya and Tour de Suisse, the Vuelta a España will be Kron’s first ride at a three-week race. It is a big moment for him, not just because he will ride one of the three biggest races on the calendar, but his name will appear among the riders for the fantasy cycling leagues he used to play before he turned pro.
“Denmark is a country where we have some grand tour manager games where you pick your own riders and I always did that,” Kron told VeloNews. “I would make my team and always look for races and buy riders and sell riders and all that. Now it is also special that my name is in that manager game.”
Turning professional has not only meant his name in lights in the fantasy cycling leagues but it has given Kron a chance to ride against some of those he used to select for his own teams.
Kron himself is an aggressive rider with some GC potential in the weeklong stage race as well as the hilly classics, and his main cycling hero has a similar pedigree, but he admires a wide variety of riders.
“I especially like [Michal] Kwiatkowski. I really liked him when he started to be really good and became world champion and also how important he is for the team. He is one of my idols. I don’t think I will race with him in a team, but you never know if I will race with him, I will be really starstruck. When I was younger, I also liked [Mark] Cavendish, I think almost every young guy likes him.
“Also, for me, there was [Fabian] Cancellara, who was in the Danish team with Bjarne Riis, and he was so crazy good in the classics. Also, I liked Andy Schleck, and then when he changed team to Leopard I was a little bit angry, and I thought he was an idiot. That’s how it is when you really support the team.”
Kron says he hasn’t had the nerve to go and speak with Kwiatkowski yet, but he had the chance to talk with Simon Clarke, who handed him a cap at the 2011 worlds in Copenhagen. It’s a moment that has stuck with the young Dane.
“When we had the worlds, I was a fan of him,” Kron said. “We were in Copenhagen and he gave me his race cap. I told him that in in the Tour de Suisse and he was really ‘Oh that’s nice’ and we had a chat about that.
“That’s a nice story and it shows how important it is that riders can give bottles to young guys. It was really nice for me and always think about that cap. I don’t know where that cap is now but I still have it at home.”