Markel Beloki signs with EF Education-EasyPost.
The Basque junior phenom will make his WorldTour debut in 2024
Markel Beloki’s Basque cycling friends are in awe.
Just this summer, they were gathered around the TV, watching their favorite pros race the Tour de France. Now, their eighteen-year-old buddy Markel is heading to the WorldTour to race with EF Education-EasyPost. He will make his professional debut with our team in 2024.
Markel’s friends have always known that he is a talent. This year, he won five of Spain’s biggest junior races, including the national time-trial championships. He flies away from them on their local climbs. Going straight to the WorldTour will be a big jump, but Markel knows he’ll have time and world-class support to grow and develop at his own pace on our team.
“My objective right now is to improve,” Markel says. “I know that I am young, really young to be in the WorldTour, but I will have time in this team to improve little by little. I will go in every day to improve my level and work for the team.”
Long term, Markel’s dream is to be a three-week racer. He has believed that he can compete in races like the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia, and Vuelta a España ever since he dropped his dad on their favorite climb, the Zaldiaran, just outside his hometown, Vitoria-Gasteiz.
Markel’s dad is the Basque cycling legend Joseba Beloki, who finished on the podium of the Tour de France three times. Markel is too young to remember watching his dad race. He was two when his father hung up his racing bike. Markel has only seen his dad’s famous attacks on YouTube. But, as soon as Markel was old enough to ride, his dad would take him out into the hills of the Basque Country. There was never any pressure on Markel to race. He just loved it.
At first, he liked beating his friends to the tops of local mountains. Bike racing is very popular in the Basque Country and lots of kids are into it. When he was 12, Markel joined a local club and started racing for real. He often rode with his dad, who taught him how to be a cyclist.
“For me, it was a big advantage to learn at home about the sport,” Markel says.
Then, three years ago, Markel dropped his father.
“It wasn’t my dream, but it was one of the things I wanted to do at that moment. The Zaldiaran is not a super hard climb, but it is the most famous climb in Vitoria and one of my favorites,” Markel says. “I started seeing that he was suffering a little bit more, a little bit more. But it’s normal. I am young and I now train more than him.”
As he has grown and got stronger, Markel has shown that he can handle a rigorous racing program too. He lives and breathes cycling.
“Markel has proven to be the dominant junior in Spanish racing,” says EF Education-EasyPost CEO Jonathan Vaughters. “He has set all-time records on climbs across the Basque Country, bettering many riders who have gone on to do some pretty incredible things in grand tours. And he is a big, strong kid, not a tiny little climber. He’s Spanish national time trial champion. He has clearly inherited everything that his father had in his racing days and, and maybe even more. He is an excellent bike handler, who knows how to read races. The challenge for us is just going to be making sure that we nurture him carefully. This will be the first time we have ever taken a junior directly into the WorldTour ranks. We believe that Markel has an incredible future in front of him.”
Markel is up for the challenge. He knows he will face some hard moments during his first years as a pro.
“We need to have bad moments to improve,” he says. “They make the better moments better.”
Pulling on his EF Education-EasyPost jersey for the first time is going to be a sweet one. Markel is now on a team that will ride all of the races he dreams of: the Clásica de San Sebastián, the Tour of the Basque Country, the Giro, the Vuelta, the Tour de France. He doesn’t want to get ahead of himself though. He is going to stay in school, doing his studies online, and just focus on getting better day by day on his bike. Still, he can’t wait to show off his new jersey to his cycling buddies.
“They knew that I was doing good things in the junior category, but did not expect that this big step was going to be this year, so when I told them that this is going to happen, they were surprised,” Markel says. “It is not the normal thing to take that step from the juniors to the WorldTour, but the opportunity came to me and I am really excited to start the next season.”
We think you’re going to keep surprising your friends, Markel. Welcome to EF Education-EasyPost!