Joseba Beloki is back in the peloton, not as a rider, but as a sport director for Spanish amateur team Cafés Baqué.
The team will make its season debut Saturday with a young team built around riders all under the age of 21.
“I’ve had the cycling bug and I’ve enjoyed training with young riders, and Baqué has offered me an opportunity to do it,” Beloki said at the team’s presentation Wednesday. “I got my sport director’s license in 2008 and I’ve always been interesting in training and physiology.”
A three-time podium man at the Tour de France, Beloki’s fortunes took a turn for the worse in a horrendous crash in stage 9 of the 2003 Tour that left him with a broken femur, elbow and wrist. That crash – when Lance Armstrong took his famous “short-cut” across a field – effectively ended Beloki’s career as an elite cyclist.
In 2006, his name was linked to Operación Puerto, a charge he vehemently denies, but no team would touch him. He was forced into retirement and began to look for a life after racing.
Beloki helped a sport web page, Strands, get off the ground and worked during last year’s Vuelta a España in public relations.
Beloki is hoping his start at Cafés Baqué will open the door for more opportunities.
“I want to learn as much as possible as a director and share my knowledge from racing with the young riders,” he said. “We’ll see what happens in the future. I am happy to have this opportunity right now.”
Cafés Baqué dates back more than 30 years and has been instrumental in the development of such riders as Iñigo Cuesta, Pedro Horrillo, Igor Astarloa and Roberto Laiseka.