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Sebastian Berwick enjoying road less travelled with Caja Rural-Seguros RGA

If the presence of a young Australian like Sebastian Berwick in the line-up of the Caja Rural-Seguros RGA team at the Volta a Catalunya is eye-catching, it’s not just because at 24 the rider from Brisbane already generated a lot of interest for his climbing and GC potential in lower-category UCI races like the Alsace Tour and Alps Isère.

Berwick is also just the second Australian ever to be part of the Caja Rural-Seguros RGA team in its current format. This first – as chance would have it – was Nick Schultz (Israel-Premier Tech), the winner of the opening stage of this year’s Volta a Catalunya, who raced with the Spanish team in 2017 and 2018.

Back in the late 1980s, top-level Aussie domestique Neil Stephens, now a sports director at Bahrain Victorious, also did a season’s stint with Caja Rural before the Spanish savings bank quit sponsoring pro cycling for over a decade. Since they began backing a pro squad again in 2010, foreign racers of the calibre of Hugh Carthy and Michal Kwiatkowski have also cut their professional teeth with the team.

Berwick comes to the team after three years at Israel-Premier Tech, and a difficult winter due to illness. Still, he says he is immensely enjoying both taking a path less travelled, for Australians at least, at Caja Rural and steadily building his form towards the squad’s first big goal of the season, Itzulia-Basque Country

“The team’s really good, everybody’s nice, there are no egos, so it’s all good at the moment,” Berwick told Cycling News at stage 4 of the Volta a Catalunya. “I’m only really getting into the racing now, but every day I’m getting better. I’ve got Basque Country coming up so hopefully this week will really get me into it.”

Asked about how his departure from Israel-Premier Tech ended up with him signing for Caja Rural, he says simply that, “I guess it’s just the brutal world of cycling,’cos  I was struggling a little bit. But they helped me out and gave me a contract and everything and I’m really grateful for that.”

Israel-Premier Tech and Caja Rural-Seguros RGA are both in the Pro Team category, but it’s fair to say the former are far more high-profile than the latter. However as Berwick sees it, he will get his chances to shine in the Spanish team, regardless.

“I knew all the obvious things coming into it, budget plays a huge role in it, and everything you’d imagine would be different, is different. So it’s not a surprise I guess.”

“I’ve got a really good race program, so I’m really happy about that and hopefully I’ll get a lot of opportunities, breakaways as you say, and maybe when I get better form I can go for GC in some races as well.”

As a resident of Andorra when in Europe, he’s got no problems getting to where the team are based in Pamplona, Spain, and when it comes to racing, his objectives are also in the north of the country, too, he said. Furthermore, riding for a squad with such deep cycling roots has its own special attraction as well.

“It’s really super cool to see a sponsor stay around for so many years, too, that’s nice to see as well.”

“And Itzulia is a big goal, particularly when we haven’t got the Vuelta a España” – this year the team missed out on a wildcard – “so that’s super-big for the team and a key part of the year now.” 

If Berwick’s form-building leads him to be in top condition for the six-day Basque race, nobody in the team will have any objective. But more importantly, perhaps, at Caja Rural-Seguros RGA, Berwick now has a fresh chance to show his potential throughout the whole season and in all kinds of races.

SOURCE: CyclingNews   (go to source)
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