UCI Track Champions League: Eukene Lararte’s rapid transition from football goalkeeper to professional cyclist

Eukene Lararte is one of four Spaniards to take part in the first UCI Track Champions League and signed last week for the Bizkaia-Durango team ahead of the 2022 season.

But his journey to elite-level cycling is unconventional. Just four years ago, she was Toloso CF goalkeeper in the fourth tier of the Spanish football league.

It’s a path rarely taken, the transition between two incredibly different sports. Deceuninck-Quick Step rider Remco Evenepoel played at youth level for PSV Eindhoven and Anderlecht, and even captained the Belgian national team in the same group. He started cycling at the age of 17, in the footsteps of his father Patrick Evenepoel.

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But Lararte’s journey is even stranger. She switched to a sport in which neither she nor her family had any experience.

And the 23-year-old is the first to admit the trade was unplanned.

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“My change from goalkeeper to cyclist was not premeditated,” she told Eurosport.

“My dad rides a bike for fun, but I don’t come from a family of cyclists like many others here.

I started cycling on Sundays for fun and then joined a team in my town. “

What’s even more remarkable is how quickly Lararte has become an elite runner. She won the 2019 Euskadi Youth Time Trial in the Basque county, raising eyebrows in the cycling world.

And just two years later, she was one of the brilliant starts at this year’s World Track Championships in Roubaix.

Today, she is one of the few representatives of her country in the Champions League on track.

While she may lack the experience of other riders her age, that clearly hasn’t stopped her from competing with the best.

Quite the contrary, Lararte loves the sport as if it were still brand new.

“I’m only 23 years old and have only been doing this for a few years,” she added.

I don’t have the experience of people my age, but I appreciate it like I’m a child.

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The UCI Track Champions League returns for the second round on November 27, and you can watch all the action live on the Eurosport app, eurosport.co.uk and discovery +. Discover the “breathtaking” new era of track cycling.

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