Vacansoleil-DCM: Rafael Valls – “I have been very lucky”
Vacansoleil-DCM presented its 29-rider strong team today in a beautiful castle just outside the town of Maastricht. No less than 11 nationalities are represented in the team which is sponsored by a large camping holiday firm. Riders are therefore strategically picked in countries where the campings are. And according to their talents of course. The last addition to the team is Rafael Valls Ferri. A young rider from around Valencia who had been on the team’s wish list since 2010.
Rafael Valls is the only Spanish rider. The 24-year old was part of Geox-TMC in 2011 but was left without a job after the team folded. “The future was looking rather bleak and I was worried,” he says. “I have been incredibly lucky to have found a team in the WorldTour. It was very late in the year but I am very happy to be here.” Some of Valls’ teammates had to go back to Continental level or are still without a team like David de la Fuente and Arkaitz Durán.
In 2010 the world saw the first glimpses of a new climbing talent when Valls came in second in a Tour stage in the jersey of Footon-Servetto. He continued with Geox-TMC but saw his year end up pretty miserably when he was diagnosed with glandular fever. “This new season can therefore only be better.” He’s the last addition to the team which means he doesn’t know much about his program yet. ”My first race in my new jersey will be Vuelta Andalucía and from there we’ll see. I don’t know yet which Grand Tour will be on my schedule. First we go on training camp in Benidorm.”
With 29 riders from 11 different countries and Rafael being the only one from Spain, the language barrier proves to be a bit of an issue. ”I started learning English because I really have to. I also speak Italian so I can talk to the Italian guys. Nobody speaks Spanish so that’s a bit of a problem. But I manage well now. It’s a nice team and I feel at home. I am very grateful for the chance I have been given.”