Meet the Ecuadorian Champion, one of the most promising and youngest World Tour riders of this season.
Hello, my name is Jhonatan Narvaez!
Having raced my first race in the beautiful Quick-Step Floors jersey I thought it would be a good idea to present myself in a proper way to all of you who don't know me.
I come far away from Europe, being born and raised in the small mountain village of Playón de San Francisco, in the Amazonian province of Sucumbíos in Ecuador, some 15 minutes' drive from the Colombian border.
My house, where I still live with my parents, three sisters and brother, me being the youngest, is located at 3000 meters above sea level and we usually have around 10-12 degrees inside the house, so it is always rather cold, I guess, but we are used to that. It is a different life than in Europe.
It is also a very quiet place to grow up as a child but a fantastic place for a young cyclist. You learn to love the mountains and to tackle them. You need to. Every day when I go training I am forced to take on a mountain of five kilometers averaging 6 % in order to get home.
My father has always been passionate about cycling and my brother too, who also did a lot of cycling, so they are in fact the reason why I started cycling at a very young age. There are not a lot of cycling races on the Ecuadorian calendar, though, so when I was younger I used to race mostly in Colombia, both on the road and on the track, where I have been Pan American youth champion in individual pursuit and in the points race.
Even though I was not always successful in my first years I could not stop riding my bike, I just loved it. The sport is in my DNA. I think I grew up with the illusion of being a professional cyclist – for sure I dreamt about it every day when I was training. Had it not turned out as it did I think I would be a student at the university without really knowing what I would have studied.
This year, I will move to Pamplona. They say it's a good place to train and it shouldn't be too warm. I am not the biggest fan of hot weather, or rather, if I can choose, I like it when it is colder, similar to the conditions I know from my house in Ecuador. I have got an apartment where I will move in together with a fellow Ecuadorian professional rider. We will have a good time together.
It is not my first time in Europe, though. Last year, I was racing for Axeon Hagens Berman and the year before that I was part of the development squad of Quick-Step Floors Cycling Team, Klein Constantia, riding to a top 5 overall and the KOM classification at the Tour de Savoie Mont Blanc. That is also where I met for the first time my now current teammates Rémi Cavagna, Maximilian Schachmann and Enric Mas.
No doubt it is a big step up the ladder joining Quick-Step Floors and turning pro with one of the best teams in the world, but that only gives me a lot of motivation and confidence ahead of this season. I try to enjoy everything as much as possible, without losing focus because that is the most important thing right now, to stay focused and learn from all the experience and great riders here. How each person in the team works for the team's success and for the victories is really unique.
For the future, I dream of becoming a good stage race rider, not a Grand Tour contender necessarily, although it would be a big dream come true to race in the yellow jersey in the Tour de France, but a contender in races like Vuelta a Andalucia or Vuelta al Pais Vasco. I would also like to stand out in the Ardennes Classics. That is what I will work for but it will be a long journey, lived out step by step. I am still very young and don't want to think too much about the future.
The season is on and this week I will race Colombia Oro y Paz with the team, the second race of the year for me, which I am looking much forward to. I hope I can keep up the good form I had in Argentina before I return to Europe. I feel very happy to be here and am grateful to all the people who have helped me reach my dream. I cannot wait to show you all my worth!
Photo: ©Tim De Waele/ Getty Images