Type of Rider: All-rounder with climbing abilities
Biggest Success: 2nd overall Vuelta al Tachira and Vuelta a Venezuela 2010
Team 2010: Sumiglov Mérida (Venezuela)
Team 2011: not known yet
Best Mock List Ranking: new
Beside Jonathan Monsalve, with José Alarcón a second Venezuelan has made it onto the Mock List. This is rather surprising, because the usual association of cycling and Venezuela is José Rujano, maybe Ochoa and Rodriguez, but then ….? At least if you are occupied with European cycling. But besides Monsalve and Jonathan Camargo there is a strong generation of riders from Venezuela that is on the verge of breaking through in Europe or has already made it.
Alarcón, who was born in Santa Cruz de Mora in the Andes, was first noted in May 2007. Then he won at age 18 the Clasico Corre por la Vida (1.2). In a two-up sprint he left well-known Tomas Gil behind and so had his first UCI-win early in his career. Additionally he had some Top-Ten places and finished 10th overall both in the Clasico Banfoandes and the Vuelta a Guatemala.
Also in 2008 he gathered results steadily, but without a win. Alarcon had 7 Top-Ten places in his two biggest homeland tours and finished the Vuelta a Venezuela (2.2) 4th overall, only a minute behind winner Carlos Ochoa from team Androni. Not too bad if one considers that also Jackson Rodriguez and Rodolfo Serpa were at the start. Both of them were left behind by Alarcón by minutes. A good 7th place Alarcón took at the national Championships in his home region Mérida.
The breakthrough came in 2009. In early January he raced for overall victory at the Vuelta al Tachira (2.2) and wore the leader’s jersey for two days. On 9 of 12 stages he placed inside the Top-Ten, five times on the podium and won the stage from Las Mesas to San Antonio ahead of Monsalve in the sprint of a small group. The 10th stage finished on a steep mountaintop on La Grita. There José Rujano once more showed his exceptional climbing skills, and only Alarcón could follow. He lost only 18 seconds, whereas the rest of the competition was more than a minute behind. Also in the following time-trial Alarcón finished second to Rujano and went into the last stage with a lead of 11 seconds. Compared to other stages, this was an easy one. But most of the time things happen different from what was expected, and in South American races there is no Tour d’Honneur or other nonsense on the last stage. Attacks are the key. That the hero of our story fell victim to this is a shame, but it proved also to be educative. Third-placed Ronald Gonzalez wasn’t satisfied with third, and so he and his team Loteria Del Tachira went on to change this. With five of his teammates and with all other men from the Top-Ten except for Rujano and Alarcón they went on a breakaway that removed Alarcón from the top spot and threw him back to 8th place. This last stage was ridden so fast, that some fell out of the time limit and others finished 18 minutes back. So what was left for Alarcón were nice placings, but also the insight that there was still a lot to learn at age 20.
After a 12th place at the Vuelta a Cuba (2.2) he placed 4th overall at the Vuelta a Venezuela (2.2), without being able to shine like in January. In the end of September Alarcón took part in the World Championships for the first time. In the road race he finished in a bigger group, ranking 28th.
On to new successes was the motto for 2010, which would prove to be the strongest in terms of results for Alarcón so far. Like in the previous year he placed 2nd overall at the Vuelta al Tachira (2.2), winning no less than 3 stages. He won the two mountain-stages to Cordero and Pregonero from escape-groups. With this he was 2nd in the overall classification behind Rujano. With more attacks and a stage win on the last stage he could reduce his deficit to only 3 seconds at the finish and also won the points classification ahead of Monsalve. Like in the year before, also this year he raced in Cuba and then his home tour. On the Caribbean island Alarcón won the queen-stage, a mountain-top finish at Topes de Collante and posed some problems to the Cubans. After 15 stages he finished 2nd overall. The same result he reached at the Vuelta a Venezuela (2.2) in July. There he was the only one who could keep up with winner Tomas Gil. In August, he raced the Vuelta a Colombia (2.2) as a helper for José Rujano. He finished 2nd on one stage, but there were no other results because of this role as a helper.
After Mendrisio, Alarcón will take part in another World Championship in 2010. Together with teammates Monsalve and Manuel Briceno he will try for a good result, even if the course doesn’t suit him.
But even so, José Alarcón has already shown in his home country that he can keep up with the best riders and beat them occasionally. It remains to be seen where his road will lead to next year. Most likely he will again race the Vuelta al Tachira in January for overall victory and maybe after that he will get a contract in Europe. It wouldn’t be surprising at all.
Nominated by virtualprofit, ocana, ogkempf & wagenge, written by ocana, translated by bugno