We start a new interview in EASSUN in detail! This time we have a very special guest, as he is one of our sponsored athletes who has been working with us for the longest time: Israel Núñez.
For those who don't know you, who is Israel Núñez?
He is a lover of cycling and sport in general, specifically cycling. I started mountain biking when I was very young, without competing or anything. Then, I started racing at the Sant Boi Cycling School until I reached my dream of becoming a professional, where I have spent many years both in road cycling and mountain biking. I was born, raised and live in Martorell, a town that I adore, because it has always given everything possible for me. Personally, I am a quiet, peaceful person, enthusiastic about what I do and in love with my family.
How and when did you start cycling?
From a very young age, I was given my first bicycle, which was the typical one with wheels. That's when I saw that I liked it, because when I took them off, I started to feel that sense of freedom. I started cycling when I was 4 or 5 years old and I haven't stopped since then. In the world of competition, I started in the Club Ciclista Sant Boi, a road cycling school, where I spent the second year as a cadet and the two following years as a junior. It was my apprenticeship stage, where I made the great base.
Why cycling and not another sport?
When I was a child I did play other team sports such as basketball, handball, indoor football, field football and various disciplines of athletics, but I have always liked cycling and it has always been the one that has attracted my attention the most. Why? I think it is the only one that has given me sensations that other sports have not been able to, since everything depends on you. Your legs and your individual effort are what make you go as far and as high as possible.
What does cycling bring to your daily life?
It helps me in different areas: health, cycling culture or being in contact with nature. The feeling of freedom that cycling gives you when the air hits you in the face and you go out into the mountains or on the road is something that no other sport gives you. In four pedal strokes you can go far away, climb peaks, enjoy descending them, etc. In short, it is a joint emotion that allows you, with your own legs and depending on yourself, to go as far as you can or want to go.
When did you decide to focus exclusively on it, training "more seriously"?
In my junior stage I started to stand out at Catalan and national level. The first year in this category, I was Catalan Road Cycling Road Champion and, in the second, I won the Spanish Mountain Bike Championship. Throughout my sporting career, I have combined road and mountain biking. Since I was young, I saw that I was good at it, but that the great results had to be demonstrated in the amateur stage. The first two years were spent learning at Sport Ter-Tadesan. I won the Montjuic Climb, among other races. Then, Caja Rural signed me up, where I stopped studying and I focused 100% on making the jump to the professional ranks with ASC Vila do Conde, where I competed in the elite category in Portugal until 2003. Then I returned to Spain with Kaiku in 2005 and 2006. From 2007 to the present, I have been fully dedicated to mountain biking with the Massi team.
After so many years competing, could you summarise your greatest achievements?
My first Spanish championship as a second year junior. It was held in La Molina and all of Martorell came to see me. It was very important for me. Then, my first victories and podiums as a professional in the Challenge de Mallorca and the Montjuic Climb, in which I came first in front of all my people. The victory in the Titan Desert too. In the end, they are all titles that I have a special affection for, the ones that have catapulted me to go further and, in turn, show me that dreams can be achieved with hard work.
Which do you remember with special affection?
The greatest achievement is having dedicated myself to professional cycling, because it was my goal and my dream. Once achieved, there are many results, such as the Spanish championships, which I have a special affection for, because winning them gives you the chance to defend your colours and a title for a whole year. The European and World Championships are also very special, as they are very important international titles. On a smaller scale, the Catalan championships, which are one-day championships and give you a leader's jersey for a whole year. As for stage competitions, I have also achieved many more victories. Perhaps the one that made me most famous was the Titan Desert, a very media-worthy race that makes you known. In any case, what I've enjoyed the most is being Spanish Mountain Bike Champion on 6 different occasions.
And the most complicated moment of your sporting career?
I remember a very hard fall I had in the under-23 Amateur World Championship. The race was practically selected, we were in the lead group and when we passed through the training area the road narrowed a lot because there were also the helpers who were handing out jerry cans and food to the riders. There was a big pile-up and as I was going very fast, I fell to the ground. I tried to continue, but the race was going very fast for the final victory and, although I was in the group of favourites, I couldn't continue because of the burns and so on. That was a very bittersweet moment for me, because it was my last year as an under-23 rider and I was in very good shape.
In terms of races, what was the hardest one you remember?
The hardest situation was in the Vuelta de Valencia as a professional with the Kaiku team. There was a very bad storm. It was a mountain stage with a summit finish. It started to snow with three mountain passes to go. On the last one, we were told that it was cancelled, because it was impossible to climb without chains. In fact, they couldn't even set up the finish, which in the end was at the bottom. On the penultimate pass, the descent was deadly for all the riders. We were so frozen that we were unable to brake. People were falling off their bikes because of the cold we were experiencing. Many riders seemed to have hypothermia. Those were very hard moments, because I remember that when I got to the finish line I couldn't even take my clothes off. My hands were like stumps, totally frozen. It was the masseur who had to undress me, put me in the car, put the heating on full blast so that I could recover and get warm. That's the hardest time I've ever had on a bike.
In this sense, what do you think are the 3 most decisive moments in your career?
The first moment was when I moved from Caja Rural Amateur to ASC Vila do Conde in Portugal, because, in this way, I made the jump to the pros and achieved a dream. The second to highlight was the change I made when I signed for the Kaiku team, because it allowed me to ride for a national team. We had a great calendar. Finally, I would keep my signing for the professional Massi Mountain Bike team, as I was going to be the leader of the team with aspirations to win a place for the Athens Olympics, where, in the end, I narrowly missed out. I think these three decisions have been the most important in my life. As you can see, I am a person who values very much the help I receive and the teams I am in. In this sense, I have been with EASSUN since 2001, using their components and glasses.
How do you think the world of cycling has evolved from when you started until now?
The level in general has gone up over the years. Also, there are many more means to prepare. There are many more specialists around a team, the stages are much more studied and the routes are more visualised. The circuits have changed, since before, in the World Championships, nobody went under 2 hours and, now, the times of the first rider is around an hour and a half. They are shorter, more intense, explosive and technical.
And in terms of accessories, what differences would you highlight?
In the case of road cycling, the introduction of the potentiometer for the physical preparation of the riders has marked a before and after, as everything is much more measured and controlled. In addition, the earpiece means that the whole team is aware of what is happening at all times. In mountain biking, what has evolved the most are the bikes. From 26-inch bikes with brakes when I started, we are now on 29-inch double bikes with disc brakes and telescopic seatposts. All this has made it possible to go much faster on all types of terrain with this material. In the case of EASSUN, the helmets are much lighter and more aerodynamic. In fact, you don't even notice you're wearing them. The cycling glasses have a bigger and bigger screen with a better panoramic view, the photochromic lenses allow you to see in any situation and their total ventilation makes it possible to avoid fogging at any time (anti-fogging). Everything has evolved for the better and I don't know how far we are going to go. The point is that every year new things come out that make the cyclist's life more comfortable and improve.
What do you value most when using a product?
In the case of competition, we need a safe product. For example, there's no point in taking a very light bike that's going to break when you're going to demand a lot of work from it. When it comes to components, what matters is their comfort and safety performance. In the case of the shoes, they must give a very good transfer to the power of the pedalling, while, with regard to the cycling glasses, they must give very good visibility at all times and without fogging up (anti-fogging). In short, what I value most is lightness and reliability.
What goals do you have in mind for the future?
Throughout my career I have achieved great things, since I have raced in road cycling, mountain biking and cyclo-cross. In fact, I'm currently the only rider who has been a world champion in these three disciplines while defending the colours of the national team. I am not one of those who like to repeat goals I have already achieved, as I have a long list and as I achieve them, I cross them off. I have won many important regional, national and international championships, but, now, what I want most is to enjoy cycling. To do those races and stage races that I have not yet been able to do, as they are innovative routes that I have not yet ridden or competed on.
What advice would you give to people who are starting out in this sport?
Mainly that they try to enjoy every pedal stroke, landscape, route and the company of their fellow riders. The cycling world is very healthy, people are very good and nice. They need patience, because it's a long road. It can be practised from childhood until you are retired. I encourage people to enjoy cycling, to take care of nature for later generations and to be sportsmen before being cyclists.