Homage to Pablo Lastras (Video)
Movistar Team publishes a video to mark the retirement of Pablo Lastras, a point of reference and a symbol of Spanish cycling throughout his 18-year career as a professional
In 2016, for the first time for 21 seasons – three as an amateur then 18 at the very highest level – the name Pablo Lastras will not appear on the roster of Eusebio Unzué's team. The fall he suffered on 26 March, during stage four of the Vuelta a Catalunya, ended his sporting career and forced him into a long and painful process of recuperation that is still ongoing. Even faced with career-ending injury, Penkas demonstrated the values that made him one of the most appreciated riders inside and outside the peloton: dignity, commitment, huge respect for the work of his team-mates and rivals, and, more than anything else, a heart of gold.
He started his professional career at Banesto with victory in the 1997 Memorial Galera, the Spaniard having ridden the 1996 Trofeo Luis Ocaña for the Spanish Under-23 team. Like a world-class creative midfielder in football, he could spread the play and support his team-mates or, when the opportunity arose, he could score stunning individual wins. After several seasons affected by injuries, a perennial issue down the years, Penkas took stage wins in all three Grand Tours over three consecutive campaigns. In the 2001 Giro d'Italia he won at Gorizia; in 2002 he took two stages in the Vuelta, at Córdoba and at Collado Villalba. Finally, in 2003, he took his greatest win in the Tour de France at Saint-Maixent-l’École, pointing at the sky in memory of his mother, Rosa, who had passed away with cancer a few weeks earlier. Rosa was largely responsible for convincing the young Pablo, during a difficult period in his teenage years, to persist with cycling. "If I have character and tenacity, they come from her."
Eight years later, at the end of stage four of the 2011 Vuelta in Totana, Lastras raised his arms again, again remembering his mother, but also Xavi Tondo and all his loved ones. He even dedicated the win to the media. "They magnify this sport." Throughout these two decades, which brought him 13 professional wins and many more by his team-mates, Penkas revealed exquisite tact and amiability to journalists and reporters, and to anyone else demanding his attention. He would often take the initiative himself: it was his way of proving that turning the pedals is only one of the duties required of elite professional cyclists.
In Pablo's case, there is no way of separating the man from the cyclist. Charisma, humility and a formidable determination are more of the qualities that made him the very embodiment of the team spirit in Unzué's structure. Deeply respected by other teams, to many of his team-mates he became a brother, even a substitute, sporting father. The emotions of an evening in Pamplona just over a month ago, when the team toasted and warmly applauded their 'godfather', will live long into Penkas' retirement.
From the Movistar Team: "Penkas, thank you for everything."