HOW WILLIE GOT THAT KATUSHA RIDE
“When I arrived in Spain, the family of the team director, Marcos, took me in. I thought I would just stay in their house for a week, until I could find an apartment.
“But they took a liking to me, and said that because I’d only be in Spain for such a short period, they would like me to stay as long as I wanted. They even fought with me when I brought my own groceries home! They taught me Spanish, and really made it easier to cope with everything.
“After three months, I’d already won 16 races in Spain. But one particular race I won really impressed Marcos. It was the Vuelta Ciclista a León; it finished up a HC climb, and I managed to lose just eight seconds against some of the best climbers in Spain. He got on the phone immediately – without my knowledge.
“Next thing I knew, he had opened doors that weren’t there. I am really grateful to him for that.”