I want to give everything I have to the team and I want to race with all my heart.”
– Luis Villalobos
Luis Ricardo Villalobos has joined EF Education First Pro Cycling, effective immediately. The newly crowned Mexican time trial champion is as strong uphill as he is against the clock.
“It makes me proud to be a part of this team,” said Villalobos. “It is a dream accomplished.”
Villalobos, 21, had a break-out season last year, winning the best young rider’s jersey and finishing eighth overall while riding for Aevolo, a US Continental team, at the 2018 Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah. His ability to match the WorldTour riders up Utah’s steepest climbs caught the attention of several team managers, including EF Pro Cycling CEO Jonathan Vaughters.
Following the queen stage of Tour of Utah, Vaughters reached out to Aevolo’s manager Mike Creed and signed Villalobos on a three-year deal that would keep the upcoming rider with Aevolo for the first six months of the 2019 season. The arrangement gave him the opportunity to gain invaluable experience with his continental squad in the United States before making the move to the sport’s top level.
“I signed with EF Education First because it offered the best option for my development, both the body and mind,” explained Villalobos. “It’s a lower-pressure environment.”
“Luis has got a massive motor,” said Vaughters. “What he can do is in pro cycling is yet to be seen, but we’re excited to help him on his journey.”
Villalobos grew up in Lagos de Moreno in the states of Jalisco. While the mountainous region has produced other Mexican cyclists, Villalobos is the first Mexican to reach the WorldTour.
“Cycling in Mexico has a lot of potential, but the main thing it is missing is instilling confidence in its athletes that we can accomplish everything everyone else can. I think that’s the main thing I’ve accomplished that not a lot of Mexicans before me have,” said Villalobos. “I saw bigger than Mexico and the Mexican Federation. With my family’s belief in me, I competed in the USA. I’m proud to represent Mexico, and I wish that more Mexicans in the future can follow my path.”
Villalobos’ path was paved by his father. Juan Francisco Villalobos rode professionally in Mexico with the Canel’s Turbo squad, and he also competed abroad.
“My family has influenced me a lot,” said Villalobos. “My father has given me his experience and advice as much as in cycling as in life. He always tells me the mind has to be 100 percent for the legs to be 100 percent.
“My father was a great cyclist, and he could have been much more,” Villalobos added. “In honor of him, I would like to be as great as him or even more.”
The newest EF Education First Pro Cycling neo-pro is slated to make his debut in pink in August.
“During the second half of the season, I want to give everything I have to the team and I want to race with all my heart,” said Villalobos. “And I want to learn all that I can from my great teammates.”
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