“The most important thing is reliability: you know that you will arrive first because you will not fail”
For Transgesa, Ignacio Ávila and Joan Font have always been an example. Not only in sport, but in life. Our adapted cycling tandem -Ignacio suffers a 90% loss of visibility- not only shines for its sporting successes, but for the way of understanding sport, effort and camaraderie, beyond its great results.
This March they are going to have an exciting month, beginning with the Spanish Championship on the track on March 3 and culminating on the 22nd with the World Championship in Rio. To celebrate another year at the highest level, we have spoken with them and we have divided the talk into some of the values they have always shown.
“Your trust moves us”, is the motto of Transgesa. And from the first moment we saw that this idea was perfectly reflected in the tandem of Ignacio and Joan. The mutual trust they have is key to everything they have achieved. This is demonstrated by both when they talk about reliability.
What is more important speed or reliability?
Ignacio: Reliability: you know you’ll go further because you won’t fail.
Joan: Reliability. A tandem at the mechanical level is very special. Think that they are the same components as an individual bike but used for twice the weight, twice the strength… I always check that everything is going perfectly, but until we cross the finish line we are not sure that everything will go well.
What has cycling taught you?
Ignacio: That, as in life, nobody gives anything away.
Joan: A lot of discipline.
What has the tandem taught you?
Ignacio: Fellowship, friendship and trust.
Joan: Getting to know Paralympic sport and getting closer to people with disabilities.
How did you get to the Spanish and World Championships? What goals do you set yourself?
Ignacio: We always try to get to the big events of the season in the best possible shape. The objective in the Spanish Championship is to be champions in the three events in which we participate and in the World Championship we want to be on the top of the podium.
Joan: Despite not having the means like other countries, we arrived happy for having done the job well. Our objective is to revalidate the title of Champions of Spain and qualify for the Gold and Silver final in Rio.
Transgesa has been working as a logistics operator for more than 30 years. Throughout three decades, many experiences have been accumulated, and we try to learn from all of them. What have been some of the most significant moments in our champions’ careers?
What has been the hardest moment in competition?
Ignacio: The final for the third and fourth place of the pursuit in the Games
from Rio, where we were just 0.6 seconds away from getting that precious Bronze medal. A very hard stick in our Paralympic Games debut.
Joan: Titan Desert, in the fourth stage. It was the first Marathon stage, after leading the entire stage and with options to win, and a sandbank made us get off and run while we watched our rivals go. From there we had a great physical drop with 10 kilometers to go. They were the longest 10 kilometers that I remember, where cyclists overtook us and it was completely impossible to catch the wheel.
What has been your hardest moment in preparation?
Ignacio: The preparation in Mallorca before the Rio Games. It was hard on a physical and psychological level since the physical preparation was very hard and we had problems in the Track tandem and the times did not come out; That hurt a lot on a psychological level.
Joan: The preparation in Mallorca before the Rio Games. Being trained with the Spanish team, 15 days before debuting in the Games and seeing that the times did not work out. That feeling of, what is happening to us? If we were in spectacular shape… Days and days giving everything and riding very slowly. Only 48 hours after competing, we changed tandems and everything was fixed.
What has been your best moment in competition?
Ignacio: When we did a double in the World Cup in Segovia in 2014. That year we were untouchable in Time Trials, it seemed that we had wings.
Joan: The final sprint from Nottwil 2015, where we were world champions for the first time. Perhaps because we came from a very, very hard year, where we were in good shape, but the results were not coming out, perhaps because it was the first time that we managed to be world champions. The issue is that the entire race and everything experienced just after crossing the finish line were an infinity of sensations that will be remembered for a lifetime.
What does the experience bring? How does it help you?
Ignacio: The experience helps to control the pressure, the nerves and to have everything more under control.
Joan: To get to know each other better both individually and as a tandem, in order to face the most important competitions in a calm and safe way.
Continuous improvement and improvement
Transgesa’s long history does not prevent us from continuing to want to be better every day; on the contrary, it shows that we have known how to innovate to continue providing competitive advantage to our customers. How do Ignacio and Joan experience this need for improvement after so many kilometers collected together? How do you balance this with your daily life off the slopes?
What has been your best moment in preparation?
Ignacio: At the high altitude concentration in Andorra in 2016, for the opportunity to train with those landscapes, climb ports where the finals of the return stage and the tour have been held… One of the best places to prepare for the Games.
Joan: The two weeks in Pas de la Casa in Andorra, where we started to
seriously prepare for the Rio Games. We spent two weeks in an apartment at an altitude of 2,200 meters, training together, cooking, taking one hundred percent care of ourselves. Also, I remember that the Olympic Games were very close to starting and every day at 8:00 p.m. they did a special on television about the Rio Games. We looked at him wishing we were already there.
What is a normal day to day like in your life? How do you balance work, family, etc. with being a professional athlete?
Ignacio: It is quite difficult to find hours to be able to train with everything one has on a day-to-day basis: work, family… But for me, sport is a way of life, I try to do everything possible to dedicate hours to sport.
Joan: Complicated to organize the day to day, get to everything, and always have the feeling that more hours have failed to train.
“Every day is a gift and being able to dedicate myself to sport is a privilege”
What has sport taught you?
Ignacio: A way of life based on discipline and the health of body and mind.
Joan: Values, humility… But above all it has shaped me as the person I am.
What is the key to continue with enthusiasm after so long? The spirit of overcoming?
Ignacio: That amuses me and the spirit of improvement is maintained because we are aware that there are always things that can be improved.
Joan: Being Paralympic champions and having that spirit of overcoming by being competitive.
What helps you face each new day, each new training session, each competition?
Ignacio: That every day is a gift and being able to dedicate myself to sport is a privilege.
Joan: The illusion, and the improvement to go further and live new experiences.
What are you trying to improve after all this time?
Ignacio: Improve tandems, aerodynamics, physical fitness, adapt to new technologies.
Joan: In everything, on a physical level with new training methods and on a mechanical level to improve the tandems, material, weight and above all the aerodynamic position.
Joan and Ignacio spend lots of hours glued to each other, literally within millimeters. Knowing how to adjust to our colleagues, learning from them and valuing them is, also for us, a sure recipe for success.
Is it difficult trying to maintain similar fitness levels? What do you do when you see that one arrives better than the other or that he is having a bad day?
Ignacio: It is difficult to maintain the same state of form because each one has a different physiology. Anyone has a bad day, you can’t do more than assume it.
Joan: Yes, but since we are both equally competitive and very professional, we always try to arrive in the best shape. Even so, if one of the two has a downturn, the confidence is such that we take advantage of it so that the tandem continues to roll one hundred percent.
What is the best thing about competing alongside Joan?
Ignacio: his experience in cycling, which gives peace of mind and his winning character.
What is the best thing about competing with Ignacio?
Joan: Competing with the tandem is like multiplying the experiences that cycling gives me by two. Just before starting with him I thought that everything would be half, but luckily I was able to discover that I was wrong.