Watch the ASWD Twilight Criterium finish in slow motion
A Boise cyclist made his grand tour debut this week in one of the top professional cycling races in the world.
Will Barta, 23, is one of eight cyclists racing for CCC Team in the Vuelta a España, or Tour of Spain, which is the third of the Grand Tours in Europe alongside the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia. Barta joined the team earlier this year and started in the race on Aug. 24.
“To have a local kid from Boise in (the race) is just so exciting,” said Douglas Tobin, founder and director of the Boise Young Rider Development Squad (BYRDS), a cycling club that Barta rode in as a teen.
In the Vuelta, cyclists race across Spain, completing 21 “stages,” or segments, in 23 days. Like the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia, winners are named for each stage and riders earn points for their placement. The cyclist with the most points at the end of the tour is named the overall winner.
During Stage 4 on Tuesday, Barta’s CCC Team was ranked fourth overall, with team member Szymon Sajnok in sixth place individually. Barta was in 168th out of 174 total riders.
Following Stage 1, Barta was in 33rd place.
“It was only the second team time trial in my life actually, the first one was back in 2015, so I felt a bit out of practice and I was a bit nervous,” Barta said in a CCC Team news release. “But, I felt like we rode well and obviously, it was a pretty good result.”
Cycling in Boise
Barta may be new to the grand tours, but he’s no stranger to competitive cycling.
“He started with me when he was roughly 10 or 11 years old,” said Tobin, Barta’s former coach. “He just seemed to have a real love for the sport, and he was a great student of the sport. He followed all the pro teams.”
“He just became a very strong competitive rider,” Tobin said. “He was willing to punish himself to ride and race, ride and race again and again.”
Barta is one of only a handful of professional cyclists hailing from Idaho. Tobin said Barta’s success is a testament to the 23-year-old’s talent and skill, as well as an example of the impact that youth cycling programs can have.
“It’s very rewarding to feel like we have a program here that gives kids that access to purse a dream and now, in Will’s case, to live that dream,” Tobin said.
Follow Barta’s progress in the Vuelta online at lavuelta.es.