Sunday, December 31, 2006

Euskaltel rider by rider; Part 2

  • Jorge Azanza Soto is a big reinforcement to Euskaltel. An all-rounder with a lot of potential, Jorge is on the preliminary list for the Tour de France. Jorge is not the kind of rider who wins a lot of races, but he`ll provide valuable support in the classics, in the mountains and while he also shines in breakaways. A key-member next year.
  • Jon Bru Pascal is, like Jorge, an excellent all-rounder. Bru shines the most in the spring classics, and is a certainty for Amstel, Fleche, Liège, San Sebastian etc. Bru can certainly be among the 10 best in each of these races. He`s also capable of winning races when in breakaways. Great asset for any team. Will start the season strong, and will ride the Vuelta is everything goes to plan.
  • Unai Etxebarria Arana is the veteran in the squad, and has been an important rider for some time now. Next year he`ll focus on the small stage-races and probably the hilly spring classics. Look out for Unai in breakaways in races like San Remo, Liège, Amstel, Lombardia. Capable of winning races on any terrain really.
  • Koldo Fernandez de Larrea recorded several very impressive results in mass-sprints this year, but the big win eluded him. Euskaltel will count on him to bring in some victories next year, and will, like he did so brilliantly this year, ride the Giro. Koldo has got a great future, and next year may bee his big year.
  • Aitor Galdos Alonso will be a key-man for sprints and classics next year. After winning two races last year, both in sprints, Aitor will be a feared man in the peloton. On the list for the Tour, though that`s not a certainty. The Giro will most probably be his three-week stage-race next year. Euskaltel count on him, Koldo and Iñaki to bring them some victories in sprints next year.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Euskaltel rider by rider; Part 1

In six different parts I will evaluate each one of the 30 Euskaltel riders, in alphabetical order. Here`s the first 5:

  • Beñat Albizuri Aransoro had an okay 2006 season. The 25-year-old will hope to shine in the small stage-races next season. He rode the 2006 Giro, and is on the preliminary list for next year`s edition as well, but wont make the cut I`m afraid. Breakaways are perhaps his strongest side, so we`ll all hope to see more of that next year.
  • Igor Antón Hernandez was one of the biggest surprises in the peloton this year, and will surely be one to watch the coming season. His climbing talent will most probably be on show come the Tour. Igor may also ride the Vuelta next year, but hopefully he`ll be peaking for the Tour. Gonzalez de Galdeano has stated that he may ride the Tour de Romandie, the Volta a Cataluñya, the Euskal Bizicleta or the Clasica Alcobendas.
  • Lander Apperibay Aranda will be a neo-pro next year, so great things will not be expected of him just yet. There is a slight possibility that he might ride the Giro, but that might be too early. Will have the same role as this year`s neo-pros Uribarri and Iriondo had; riding in support of the team without aiming to peak for one specific race.
  • Andoni Aranaga Azkune coped well during his first year in the Pro Tour ranks, but was unlucky at times. He will not ride the Giro like he did last year, but will instead be aiming for a strong start to the season and the classics. Andoni will hopefully get back to winning ways next year as he`s a rider capable of winning mass-sprints and in escapes.
  • Mikel Astarloza Chaurrau was a key-signing for Euskaltel. His experience and palmarès will no doubt be very useful to the team. Astarloza is a banker for the Tour, and will no doubt be one of the protected riders in some races. His first objective of the season will be the Vuelta al Pais Vasco, where Euskaltel will be hoping for strong performances from Mikel and Samu.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Iban presentation

Iban will be officially presented as a Saunier Duval rider on the 2nd of January in Bilbao. At the Gran Hotel Domine Bilbao he will answer questions from the press, while it`ll also be possible to take photos of him in a Saunier jersey for the very first time. The conference will start at 12.00 am sharp.

New Basque team?

Miguel Madariaga, head of the Fundación Ciclista Euskadi, yesterday told the press about his plans for starting up a Basque outfit who will be a Professional Continental team. Madariaga said that the team might become a reality as soon as in 2008, but the team will not be all-Basque like Euskaltel. The team will include riders from everywhere, but will be registered as a Basque team. " I feel that a another equipment in Euskadi in needed", he said, "and I feel that another Continental team is needed in Spain". The eventual team will have no effect on Orbea, Euskaltel`s feeder team.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Fundación Euskadi distribute scolarships

The Fundación Ciclista Euskadi have taken another step to secure the future of Basque cycling. 10 young, Basque cyclists have been granted scolarships to continue their development. The long-term goal is that these 10 riders will eventually bee good enough to ride for Euskaltel-Euskadi. The riders can decide to ride for whatever team they`d like as amateurs. The riders who will reveice financial support are:

  • Asier Bolivar
  • Ricardo García
  • Beñat Urain
  • Jon Belategi
  • Aitor Valderrama
  • Miguel Mínguez
  • Andoni Sánchez
  • Jurgen Jabato
  • Mikel Landa
  • Jon Aberasturi

Barrientos completes Orbea roster

Continental- and Euskaltel feeder-team Orbea yesterday completed it`s roster for the forthcoming season. 24-year-old Roberto Barrientos from Caja Rural, born in Vitoria-Gasteiz, was the latest addition to the team. Including Barrientos, the Orbea 2007 roster counts 15 riders:

  • Josu Agirre
  • Javier Aramendia
  • Brad Armstrong
  • Asier Fernández
  • Iñigo Lazkano
  • David Martín
  • Iker Mezo
  • Iván Melero
  • Juanjo Oroz
  • Xabat Otxotorena
  • Igor Romero
  • Aarón Villegas
  • Julen Zubero
  • Joseba Zumeta
  • Roberto Barrientos.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Room for improvement

After a healthy and good 2006 season, Euskaltel-Euskadi will soon commence on the 2007 campaign with many new riders and objectives. The way of managing the riders have been changed, many riders have left, a closer relationship with Orbea has been established and the youth policy is getting better and better. Though, one must always strive for perfectionism, and Euskaltel have a lot of things to work on. Here`s my list of things Euskaltel should try to get better on:

  • Performing at a high level trough the entire season and in all races.
  • Send stronger line-ups to races outside Spain (with the exception of the Tour of course ).
  • Keep conflicts among riders and/or directeur sportives inside the team. Not everything has to be public.
  • Should try, in some way, to follow the examples set by CSC and T-Mobile when it comes to taking anti-doping measures.
  • Should improve UCI team-ranking position. Top 15 is definitely achievable.
  • Should be more capable of keeping talented and strong riders at the team; like David Etxebarria, Iban Mayo, David Herrero, David Lopez, Joseba Beloki, Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano.
  • Transforming good performances into wins.

Monday, December 25, 2006

New Iban video

Check into for a great Iban video. The video is from the 2003 Tour, and covers the Luz Ardiden stage. Prior to climbing the Luz Ardiden, they climbed the Tourmalet, and all the action and the drama is here. Iban eventually finished second to Lance; what an amazing achievement and what a great video.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Breaking out of Haimar`s shadow

Joseba Zubeldia Aguirre is a rider most known for being the brother of Haimar. Born two years after his brother, Joseba has always been regarded as a talented cyclist who hasn`t been able to reach his full, and undoubted, potential. Joseba is more an all-rounder than a climbing specialist, so he can TT and climb reasonably well. Joseba joined Euskaltel in 2001 and has stayed here ever since. The thing about Joseba is that he`ll ride for the same team as Haimar no matter what. When Haimar was weighing up his options on where to ride next year earlier in the season, so too was Joseba. If Haimar had gone to, say, Saunier, so would Joseba have done. Luckily, Haimar and Joseba stayed.
Joseba has not won a race as a pro to date, though he came close in 2004, ending up 3rd on the overall classification of the Étoile des Besseges. 2006 has not been a good year for him, as he`s been hampered by injuries all the way. Though, Euskaltel have expressed their faith in him for the coming season, stating that "we hope he will continue to progress and take another step next year". Joseba will almost certainly ride the Giro next year, where I think he may be able to get a top 25 overall if he`s in reasonable condition. Joseba is certainly a talented rider; let`s just hope luck will be on his side for once next year.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Merry Christmas

It`s the 23rd of December, so Christmas is all over us again. I just want to take the opportunity to wish all of you a Merry Christmas, or Feliz Navidad as some of you may say. In Norwegian it`s God Jul. Anyway... Enjoy the festive period, and check into Iban Mayo Blog for updates throughout the holidays.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Aitor Gonzalez handed two-year ban

Newly retired ex-Euskaltel rider and Vuelta a España winner Aitor Gonzalez Jimenez has surprisingly been handed a two-year ban from cycling because of a positive doping test from the Vuelta 2005. Gonzalez was cleared by the Spanish Cycling Federation earlier, but was today handed a two-year ban from the Court of Arbitraition for Sport. Gonzalez announced his retirement last week, so the ban will have no affect on his future plans. Allegedly he tested positive for an illegal steroid compound, something Gonzalez attributed to a contaminated food supplement. "The athlete could not ignore the risks related to such an ingestion taking into account the repeated warnings given in this regard by the sports authorities," the court said in a statement.

Saunier Duval team presentation

On January the 18th in Estepona, the Saunier Duval-Prodir team for 2007 will be officially presented to the press. For the first time you`ll be able to see Iban in the yellow of Saunier, instead of the familiar orange of Euskaltel. All riders, staff and directors will be present, and the team`s new riders will be introduced, the team`s objectives for the forthcoming season will be announced and the team`s new humanitarian project "ReCycling the world" will be launched.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Iban no future GT winner

According to a vast majority of you Iban Mayo Blog readers, Iban is not capable of winning one of the three Grand Tours . 82% of you voters said "no", while only 18% said "yes" on the poll titled "Can Iban win a GT?". This may not come as a big surprise, as Iban hasn`t been able to live up to his undoubted potential in GTs since the Tour 2003. Every GT since then has been a failure, due to several different reasons. I, for one, think Iban`s capable of winning a GT in the future. Let`s hope I`m rigth...

Landaluze interview

Newly cleared-of-doping Euskaltel rider Iñigo Landaluze has given an interview to DEIA, which you can read here:

Here he talks mainly about his relief of finally being cleared and his 2007 objectives.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Landaluze second in criterium

Euskaltel rider Iñigo Landaluze finished an highly creditable second in the Criterium de Fuerteventura on the 7th of December. The criterium was organised for the second year running to rise money for cancer patients and surgery, and assembled 27 professional cyclists along with 400 amateurs. Among those 27 professionals were Euskaltel riders Antton Luengo, Koldo Fernandez, Roberto Laiseka, Markel Irizar and of course Iñigo. David Blanco won ahead of Iñigo and Santi Perez of Relax-Gam.

Landaluze officially cleared

Euskaltel rider and 2005 Dauphiné Libéré victor Iñigo Landaluze has offically been cleared of a positive doping test conducted after the Dauphiné that same year. Iñigo returned a positive test for testosterone after winning the prestigious French stage-race, but always declared himself innocent. Iñigo was stopped from riding the first half of the 2006 season, but returned at the Volta a Catalunya after the Spanish Cycling Federation cleared him of any wrong doing. Iñigo, along with the cycling federation, claimed the B-test, examined at the infamous Châtenay-Malabry laboratory, wasn`t conducted according to the rules, something that was proven later on. CAS, the Court of Arbitration for Sport, has thus cleared him. Great news for Euskaltel-Euskadi, Iñigo and of course us fans, who appreciate this magnificent rider a lot.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Iban and the Dauphiné

Every June is brilliant. It`s summer, it`s hot; life`s great. Though, the best part of June is the Dauphiné Libéré. Dauphiné means victories for Iban. Iban has got an amazing track-record in the prestigious French stage-race: 6 stage-victories, one overall and one second place overall. Iban`s palmarès in this race is just incredible. His stage-victory in 2001 marked his break-through on the big stage. His two stage-victories in 2003 were simply breath-taking, even though he didn`t win the race overall. A second was nonetheless impressive. In 2004 he went one better. The overall was won; with two stages to go with it. Lance had no chance to catch Iban whatsoever. Iban was at his peak; but afterwards it all went downwards as we know. Though, his victory on La Toussuire earlier this year marked his revival. His 2006 program does not read the Dauphiné. That`s a shame, as it`s always the place to show everyone who`s the boss. Though, his calendar can still go through some changes as the season hasn`t even started. Let`s hope so.....

Monday, December 18, 2006

Ivan Velasco

26-year-old Ivan Velasco Murilla joined Euskaltel from their feeder-team Orbea, and the young, talented Basque was given a one-year contract. Ivan has made notable progression the last years, and I had for some time hoped he would join Euskaltel. Ivan hasn`t managed to win a race to date, but last year had some impressive results. 11th. in the Tour de Limousin, 14th. in the Vuelta Ciclista a la Rioja and 13th. in the Circuito de Getxo stand out as his most notable performances. Prior to joining Orbea in 2006, the rider from Arrasate rode for Ulma-Cegasa (1999-2000), Ruta-Europa (2001-2003), Serbitzu (2004) and for the same team as Lander Apperibay; Bidelan-Kirolgi( 2005). He`s more an all-rounder than anything else, so Ivan will not be a protected rider for Euskaltel, at least not next year, but he`ll be a vital part of the Euskaltel machinery. Though, this rider is really gifted, so don`t be surprised if he wins a race or two next year.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Mikel Astarloza

The 27-year-old Mikel Astarloza Chaurrau from Ag2r Prévoyance is definetely the most well-known and accomplished rider joining Euskaltel this year. A pro since 2002 with Ag2r, he this year decided that a change of teams would suit him. Mikel is well known as a very good TTer and a good climber; a combination not too frequent among Basque cyclists. In 2003 he took his only win to date; the overall of the Tour Down Under. 2003 was a good year for him, as he ended the Dauphiné in 13th place overall, got the bronze medal in the Spanish TT championship and finished second in the young riders` competition in the Tour. Mikel has always recorded good overall results in the Tour, coming in 29th in 2003, 27th in 2005 and 36th this year. Mikel will no doubt be a very important man for Euskaltel next year. He`s already on the preliminary list for the Tour and will certainly be one of the protected riders for Euskaltel. His experience of being in the peloton for 4 years will also be a major help to an otherwise young Euskaltel line-up. His contract runs through 2008; let`s hope he stays at Euskaltel for the remainder of his career.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Dioni Galparsoro

Dionisio Galparsoro Martinez joined Euskaltel, like Bru and Azanza, from Kaiku. Galparsoro`s transfer raised eyebrows as, in 2003 and 2004, he rode for Euskaltel, before switching to Kaiku.
Galparsoro will no doubt srengthen an already very strong Euskaltel roster for 2007. Though he didn`t get any wins as an Euskaltel rider, he finished an impressive 5th overall in both the Vuelta Ciclista a la Rioja and the Vuelta a Castilla y Léon. He also came in third on two stages of that year`s Castilla y Léon stage-race. 2005 brought him his two first and, to date, only wins. Stage 3 in the Hessen Rundfahrt and stage 4 in the Vuelta a Asturias, along with the points competition in the Hessen Rundfahrt, took Dioni back into the spotlight. Hopes were high for the 2006 season, but the season was totally spoiled by numerous injuries. A 13th overall in the Euskal Bizikleta was the highlight of this season, until he signed for Euskaltel in October of course. Next year, he`ll be in good form early on, and will probably ride the Giro d´Italia. Dioni is said to be thrilled with coming back to his beloved team, and will no doubt give his all for the orange-clad men of the Basque Country for the next two years.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Antón looking forward to 2007 Vuelta

Euskaltel starlet and the 2006 Vuelta`s biggest positive surprise, Igor Antón, has said that he plans to ride the 2007 edition and that he hopes to be in an even better shape compared to last year. As we all know, Antón ended up in 15th on the overall and won an epic mountain stage even though 2006 was his first season as a pro. He says he plans to better this year`s performance, but that it wont be easy. Repeating the stage-win will be difficult, he says, but he`ll do all he can to do it. He especially liked the Covadonga stage, where he hopes to be among the front-runners. Antón and Samu Sanchez will probably share leadership duties come September, and I`m really looking forward to see how far he can go. The sky`s the limit....

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Antón and Landaluze present at Vuelta unveiling

Euskaltel stars Igor Antón and Iñigo Landaluze were both present at the Vuelta a España 2007 presentation in Madrid yesterday. The two, who both rode a magnificent 2006 Vuelta, were along with Russian 2005 Vuelta winner Denis Menchov, 2006 runner-up Alejandro Valverde, Saunier Duval star José Angel Gómez Marchante and Tour de France 2006 winner-in-elect Oscar Pereiro the great attractions at the presentation.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

"Quite good" season from Euskaltel

According to all of you who voted on my poll titled "Euskaltel`s 2006 season", Euskaltel delivered a "quite good" season. An overwhelming 67% felt 2006 was quite good, while 6% felt it was brilliant. 17% voted "OK", while 11% voted "Sub-Standard".

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Jon Bru

Jon Bru Pascal joins Euskaltel from the now defunct Professional Continental team Kaiku. The 29-year-old has two victories on his palmarès, and will be a major asset to Euskaltel facing the 2007 season. Bru is a specialist in the one-day classics, like Fleche, Liège, Zurich and San Sebastian. Bru started out as a stagiaire with L.A. Pecol in 2001, and after impressive riding, especially winning the 2003 points competition in the Tour de Pologne, switched to Kaiku. Here he`s won two races, the second and the fourth stage in the Volta ao Santarem, as well as the points competition and the mountains classifications in the same race; all coming in 2006. Though, his most impressive results last year were the second places achieved in GP de Fourmies and the Clasica a los Puertos. In 2005 he also got some very good placings, mainly his fifth place in Clasica San Sebastian, sixth in Paris-Brussels, the mountains competition in the Hessen Rundfahrt and second in the Subida al Naranco. There`s no doubt Euskaltel have got a classy and stylish rider on their hands.

Looking forward to next season, Bru will ride all the biggest classics, especially targeting Milano-San Remo and the three Ardennes classics. He`s also one of 13 riders who will start the season on a strong note, aiming to peak quite early. He`ll also probably ride the Giro next year. Hope so, as he`s a tremendous rider.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Iban`s greatest victories

Iban is the most-winning Basque currently riding, with a stunning 22 wins on his palmarès. Here`s my view on his ten best wins:
  1. Alpe d`Huez, stage 8, Tour de France, 2003
  2. Dauphiné Libéré, overall, 2004
  3. Mont Ventoux TT, stage 4, Dauphiné Libéré, 2004
  4. Vuelta al Pais Vasco, overall, 2003
  5. Morzine, stage 4, Dauphiné Libéré, 2003
  6. Fuenterrabía TT, stage 5b, Vuelta al Pais Vasco, 2003
  7. La Toussuire, stage 6, Dauphiné Libére, 2006
  8. Clasica International Alcobendas, overall, 2004
  9. Classique des Alpes, 2001
  10. Prologue, Dauphiné Libéré, 2004

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Aitor Galdos Alonso

Aitor Galdos Alonso joined Euskaltel from Italian Professional Continental team Ceramica Panaria - Navigare this year. The 27 year-old Galdos is known as talented sprinter; last year winning two mass-sprints. Galdos started his career in 2004 at Italian team Nippo, before going on to ride for Panaria the last two years. On his palmarès you can find two wins, both from 2006; stage 1 in Post Danmark Rundt, and stage 1 in the Tour de la Region Wallonne. These victories definetely show what Galdos is capable of, beating high-level fields, and Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano and Miguel Madariaga brought him in for the mass-sprints and for the classics. He`s a strong all-rounder, and I reckon he will enjoy huge success with Euskaltel. Together with Isasi and Fernandez, Euskaltel now have a quite good team for the sprints.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Iban TTing

There`s not much news to bring you at this time of year, so I just posted a great picture of Iban in his weakest discipline; the TT. Lovely pic.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Iban: "Giro perfect for me"

Iban has said that the Giro d`Italia 2007, a race he will ride for the first time, is suited perfectly to his abilities. As has been known for a long time, Iban will ride the Giro in help of Gibo Simoni; two times a Giro winner. Iban stated that the Giro is by far the most mountainious of the three Grand Tours, and that the many mountain-stages together with the few TT kilometres will make it enjoyable for him. Though Iban will not be captain, he`s not forgetting personal objectives either. Like Leonardo Piepoli did last year, Iban will be in the search of stages-victories; especially the mountain TT.

"I`m with Saunier now, but I will always have Euskaltel in my heart"

Those are the words of Iban, given this time in an interview with Spanish daily El Mundo Deportivo. As usual, I will not make this interview "mine", so I`ll just give you a link to the entrevista with Iban. He speaks very affectionately about his former team, and says that even though he`s left Euskaltel, he`s still Basque. Definetely worth a few minutes of your time:

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Javier Aramendia homepage

Javier Aramendia, the 20-year-old who will ride for Orbea before changing for Euskaltel in 2008, recently got an own homepage. was a gift from family and friends for his 20th birthday, Noticias de Navarra reports. The page is great, pay it a visit!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Iban interview

In today`s edition of Diario Vasco, you could read an interview with Iban. To make it short, Iban said that leaving Euskaltel was very hard, as he`s enjoyed his best days on the bike there. He left behind many good friends, and will surely miss the riders and the team. Further he spoke of his move to Saunier, denying Madariaga`s comments that the deal with Saunier was arranged a long time ago. Iban said he hadn`t even spoken to Saunier in August or September, and that he expected to stay with the Basque orange-clad outfit. Though, this didn`t happen, and he`s now with the Spanish-Swiss team. He hopes to reach top condition for the Giro, where he hopes to help his room-mate Simoni win the race. Of course he hoped to reach 2003 form, but if he would, was another matter he said. The last question was how many years of cycling he thought were left in him, and what he wanted to do afterwards. Iban said that he hoped to be able to race for another four years; but what he wanted to do afterwards he didn`t know.

Aitor Gonzalez retires

Former Vuelta a España winner and Euskaltel rider Aitor Gonzalez yesterday said that he`s retired, and that the decision is definite. Aitor spoke to Noticias de Gipuzkoa, and said that he had finally decided to hang up the bike after a controversial year. Aitor was reported to have tested positive on a banned substance after the Vuelta 2005. Though, he denied this immediately, and he managed to clear his name in court. Though, somehow, Aitor wasn`t allowed to race by the Spanish Cycling Federation, and after fighting to clear his name the last year without being allowed to race, he decided to end his career. Such a shame that a classy rider like Aitor had to end his tremendous career on such a low note. I, and I think I speak for all Euskaltel fans, will miss him tremendously.

Iban`s 2007 calendar

In an interview with Diario Vasco, a Basque sports daily, Saunier Duval director Joxean "Matxin" Fernandez revealed much of Iban`s 2007 calendar. According to Fernandez, he will start his season in the Vuelta a Andalucia and the Vuelta a Murcia in April, with the purpose of getting race kilometres into his legs. Then he will participate in the Pro Tour stage-race Paris-Nice, his home race Vuelta al Pais Vasco, the two spring-classics Fleche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, before heading to the Giro, as Gilberto Simoni`s chief domestique. After the Giro, Iban will of course do the Tour, where he will share leadership with the brilliant José Angel Gomez Marchante. From the on, his calendar is not planned. Though, I have to say I love his calendar for next year. He`ll participate in all races I hoped he would.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Video-clips anyone?

Watching videos of Iban and Euskaltel is something I sincerely enjoy doing. But, unfortunately, I ain`t got many. Therefore I encourage anyone with a link to a page where it`s possible to view Iban/Euskaltel videos, or has got any at home, to post them here. I would really appreciate it; I think every Euskaltel or Iban fan would.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Euskaltel for the Giro

As usual, Euskaltel will send a team of young, hungry and mainly unexperienced riders to the Giro d`Italia. There will be no real leader of the team, says Jon Odriozola to Diario Vasco. He says that the Giro seems to be the hardest of the three Grand Tours, and that the flat stages and the mountain stages will probably be too hard for the Euskaltel riders to have a chance of winning. But, the hilly stages should definetely be a possibility and will be the team`s goals. The riders that will most probably ride the Giro next year, will be: Joseba Zubeldia, Amets Txurruka, Aitor Hernandez, Aitor Galdos, Markel Irizar, Dioni Galparsoro, Jon Bru, Alan Perez or Iván Velasco

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Giro 2007; one for Iban

The Giro d`Italia 2007 route, which will run from May the 12th to June the 3rd, was made official today. The Giro will, like last year, be a climbing-feast. A total of 5 mountain-top finishes will await the riders who take to the start in Caprera. The Giro starts with a TTT in Caprera before heading to the Alps and the Dolomites. The Giro looks tailor-made for a climber like Iban, who has confirmed he will take it on next year. Euskaltel should also benefit from such a mountainious parcours. Though I really like the route, there was one thing I just didn`t understand; why having a rest day after 3 stages?! More info on the Giro 2007 can be found here:

Alvaro Gonzalez de Galdeano interview

Alvaro Gonzalez de Galdeano has given an interview to Basque daily El Correo. As the new Orbea director, he talks of the team`s goals for next year, his personal ambitions and discusses some other topics. Read:

Friday, December 01, 2006

Wind-tunnel testing postponed

The three Euskaltel riders Igor Ánton, Haimar Zubeldia and Samuel Sanchez were supposed to be heading for wind-tunnel testing in San Diego, USA, yesterday. But on the day they were supposed to leave, they got a call from the wind-tunnel owners, saying the equipment needed wasn´t there. Euskaltel have no postponed the trip to January.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Relive Iban`s greatest moment

Remember Alpe d`Huez 2003? Yeah, thought you would. At YouTube there is a great 6 minute video of Iban`s biggest ever win. The music is great, and I`ve watched it a hundred times. Especially the moment Iban leaves everybody trailing in his wake, seeing the likes of Lance, Joseba Beloki and Hamilton not able to follow, is just awesome. Pure class from an unbelievable cyclist. Click and watch:

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Laiseka may quit

Roberto Laiseka, who`s been with Euskaltel since the start in 1994, may retire after all. It was widely thought that he would return to the team for the 2007 season, but according to Madariaga, says he`s more likely to retire than continue at the moment. Laiseka injured himself badly at the Giro back in May, and after a long recovery process, hoped to return. That may still happen, but his recovery is taking more time than planned, and Roberto is afraid he won´t be able to reach former heights. If he`ll retur, Euskaltel will have 30 riders for 2007; if not, 29.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Bru, Azanza and Galparsoro interview

Euskaltel new-boys Dioni Galparsoro, Jorge Azanza and Jon Bru have given an interview to Gara, speaking of their move from Kaiku, their hopes for the 2007 season and their stay at the Professional Continental team Kaiku, which is now defunct. Click and read:

New change for sports-directors

The three sports-directors at Euskaltel, Jon Odriozola, Xavier Carbayeda and Gorka Gerrikagoitia, will face different tasks to previous years next season. Euskaltel have decided that each one of the directors shall be responsable for ten riders each. Odriozola will be responsable for the new-comers, among others Galparsoro, Astarloza, Bru, Azanza, Txurruka and Galdos Alonso. Carbayeda will take care of riders like Iriondo, Uribarri, Velasco, Apperibay and Lafuente, while Gerrikagoitia will take care of riders like Laiseka, Hernandez and Etxebarria. This model has been used to good effect at CSC, probably the best team in the world, and Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano decided to try to copy this.

In this Diario Vasco article, some of the rider`s calendars were also revealed. A group of 13 are already in training to be in particularly good condition at the beginning of the season. Among these are Bru, Galparsoro, Azanza, Aranaga and Hernandez. Samu Sanchez and Astarloza will peak for the Vuelta al Pais Vasco, while the Tour de France group will probably be made up of Haimar Zubeldia, Rubén Perez, Gorka Verdugo, Iñigo Landaluze, Iñaki Isasi, Mikel Astarloza and Igor Ánton. All riders will have their specified calendar until June. After that period, every rider`s program will be evaluated and plans will be made for the last half of 2007.

Jon Odriozola interview

New Euskaltel-Euskadi director Jon Odriozola has given an interview to Basque sport`s daily El Correo, where he talks of his future plans for Euskaltel, his inspirations, his time with Gewiss-Ballan and much more. Click on the link to read;

Monday, November 27, 2006

The neo-pros of 2006

Four new neo-pros joined Euskaltel-Euskadi prior to the 2006 season. Each one of them have impressed, and here`s a look at how they coped with the Pro Tour:

Beñat Albizuri Aransolo rode for Euskaltel as a stagiaire in 2005, coming from Orbea, and then impressed sufficently to be given a contract. In 2005 he placed a brilliant second on the third stage of the Vuelta a la Rioja. Though not able to record any top, top placings this year, Beñat has showed a lot of promise, especially in the Giro d`Italia, where he figured in many breaks. Beñat completed the Giro, but his 144th place overall does not reflect his super performance. He also participated in Pro Tour races like the ENECO Tour, Milano-San Remo and Tirreno-Adriatico.

Iban Iriondo Uranga came from the small team Olarra, and his first year was planned to be a transition year, where he was not supposed to peak for any special races. He was supposed to race when Euskaltel needed him to; and so he did. He didn`t record any results of note, but rode amongst others the Dauphiné Libéré and the Deutschland Tour. Next year, we will see more from this talented youngster.

Unai Uribarri Artabe joined from Orbea, and, like Iriondo, was used for the team`s greater good. Top results eluded him, but like Iriondo, Euskaltel expect more from him next year. Though failing to set alight the peloton, he still had an unforgettable year, riding races like Paris-Roubaix, ENECO, Ronde van Vlaanderen and the Eindhoven TTT.

Ruben Perez Moreno was definetely the most impressive of the four, showing his potential on several occasions. Also he from Orbea, Ruben recorded many impressive results. 4th on the fourth stage in the Vuelta a Murcia, 6th on stage 12 in the Vuelta a España and some top-ten placings in sprints were his most stand-out performances in 2006. I expect great things from Ruben next year....

Euskaltel 2007

This is the picture of all Euskaltel-Euskadi riders for the 2007 campaign, with the exception of Mr. Euskaltel, Roberto Laiseka, who is still recovering from several knee-operations. Also present when the picture was taken, was Miguel Madariaga, Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano, Jon Odriozola, Gorka Gerrikagoitia and Xavier Carbayeda. The picture was taken at the team`s meeting in Derio this week-end.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Euskaltel look to the future

Euskaltel-Euskadi have always been a team of young riders; a team not frightened to give youth a chance. Therefore, Euskaltel have been monitoring the small Basque amateur teams, and have of course the deal with Professional Continental team Orbea. Here, promising young riders will be nurtured carefully before making the jump to the very elite; the Pro Tour. This deal has worked wonders for Euskaltel, and they have therefore agreed deals with another six amateur sub-23 teams. From now on, Sopelana, Debabarrena, Caja Rural, Alfus Tedes, Bidelan and Azpiru will have close contact with Euskaltel, and their most talented riders will hopefully join Orbea prior to joining Euskaltel. This move just goes to show how much Euskaltel mean to Basque cycling. They are giving everyone with a talent a chance to succeed, and are therefore a unique team in the world of cycling. Euskaltel`s youth policy is among the very best in the world. The work done by the people in charge of Fundacion Euskadi is just brilliant.

Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano interview

Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano, one of the Euskaltel heads, has given an interview to well-known Basque daily El Correo Digital. This interview I definetely think is worth a read, as he discusses much of next year`s calendar and when many of the riders will be trying to reach top-form. Click on the link:

Dioni Galparsoro interview

Like many other Euskaltel riders nowadays, the very likeable Dioni Galparsoro has given an interview to Spanish sport`s daily El Mundo Deportivo. Here, he talks about his objectives for next season, his year to forget, Euskaltel`s future prospects and so on. Click on the link, and enjoy:

Samu wins again....

Samuel Sanchez has won yet another criterium, this time the Memorial Maria Isabel Clavero. The race was held in Las Rozas, where Samu, of course, won the final sprint, snatching the win in front of Peio Arreitunandia of Barloworld, and Xavier Florencio of Bouygues. His season is simply unbelievable....

Friday, November 24, 2006

Odriozola-Galdeano interview

In the El Mundo Deportivo you could read a small interview with Euskaltel directors Jon Odriozola and Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano some days ago. They mainly talk about their ambitions for next season, and for all of you that haven`t read it, here`s the link: Enjoy!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Euskaltel get-together in Derio

From Sunday the 26th to Thursday the 30th of November, all Euskaltel-Euskadi riders and staff will meet up at the Hotel Laia de Derio, reports. Derio is a medium-sized village in the Basque province of Viscaya, and here, the Euskaltel riders will train together, plan their calendars for the next campaign, hold press-conferences, get to know eachother and everything else that comes along with such a pre-season meeting. If you want to know the complete and detailed scedule for each single day, just click in to Euskaltel`s homepage, and you`ll find it.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Basque cyclists on the market

According to Noticias de Gipuzkoa, several Basque cyclists are without a team for next season. Among the 16, 3 of them were released by Euskaltel this season. One of them is Josu Silloniz, the sprinter I reported had put an end to his career some days ago. Though, the Basque daily says nothing about retirement, but instead says that he`s injured. I guess the newspaper know this better than me, but I`ll let you know once I find out. Here´s the list of Basque professionals without a team for next year:

  • Joseba Albizu, Euskaltel-Euskadi
  • Gorka González, Euskaltel-Euskadi
  • Josu Silloniz, Euskaltel-Euskadi
  • Josean Garrido, Quick Step
  • Iñigo Chaurreau, Ag2r
  • Iker Leonet Iza, Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears
  • David Latasa, Comunitat Valenciana
  • Antonio Berasategi, Kaiku
  • Rubén Oarbeaskoa, Kaiku
  • Javier Ruiz de Larrinaga, Kaiku
  • Gorka Amuriza, Orbea
  • David Sojo, Spiuk-Extremadura
  • Joseba Agirrezabala, Grupo Nicolás Mateos
  • Mikel Elgezabal, Atom
  • David Pérez, Atom
  • Unai Yus Paredes, Rota dos Moveis

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Flores joins Fuerteventura-Canarias

Iker Flores Galarza has decided to join the new Professional Continental team Fuerteventura-Canarias. Though, it seems that this team may just exist in the heads of someone, as many of their so-called sponsors have no idea that they`re putting money into cycling. The team has also still to be recognised by the Spanish Cycling Federation. Though, anyway, Iker has joined this team, and after 6 good years with Euskaltel, I wish him the best of luck for the future.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Fans pay tribute to Samuel Sanchez

On Saturday, the fans of Samu Sanchez had organised a big tribute to the exceptional Euskaltel rider. In Güeñes, a small place in Samu`s home province Asturias, Samu`s brilliant season was celebrated in the Casa Consisitorial del municipio. The mayor spoke highly of Samu, and after the official act, food was served. Fellow Euskaltel rider Aketza Peña Iza was present, along with Fundación Euskadi head Miguel Madariaga and mechanic Tomás Amezaga. Samu has had his best season ever, and has been among the very best on Pro Tour level; the highest level for a professional cyclist. Added to his palmarès this season were two stage wins in the Vuelta al Pais Vasco, a stage in Vuelta a Asturias, a stage in the Vuelta a España and the Championship of Zurich, along with a second in the Fleche Wallonne, Giro de Lombardia, a fourth in the World Championship road-race and a second place on the final UCI Pro Tour classifications. (from

Sunday, November 19, 2006

New car-supplier for Euskaltel

The Chech Republic car-supplier Skoda, widely known for their Tour de France sponsorship, have reached a two-year agreement with Euskaltel. Skoda will supply Euskaltel with 11 vehicles, and replaces Renault as Euskaltel`s car supplier, Diariovasco reports. Euskaltel riders Igor Antón, Andoni Aranaga, Iban Iriondo, Ivan Velasco, Dioni Galparsoro, along with directors Galdeano, Odriozola, Madariaga and Carbayeda, were present when this was made official yesterday.

Euskaltel jersey 2007

According to El Correo Digital and Diariovasco, the Euskaltel shirt will go through some minor changes prior to next season. Relax, it will still be orange and all that, but the "Euskaltel"-word will begin with a small "é" instead of just "E". And at the end of the word, there will be a butterfly. As soon as I`ll get a picture of it, I`ll post it.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Yon Bru interview

Former Kaiku rider, and now Euskaltel rider, Yon Bru Pascal has given an interview on If you visit the page, you`ll be able to read about his years with Kaiku, L.A. Pecol, his move to Euskaltel, his hope and ambitions for next season, Euskaltel and much more. It`s a great interview on a great page; read it!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Josu Silloniz retired?

As I wrote earlier in my article "Where did they all go?", I said that I didn`t know where Josu Silloniz, amongst others, would ride next season. Now it seems Josu won´t be riding at all next year, if you are to believe This blog is usually very reliable, so I guess it`s true. Josu was a very good sprinter some years ago, but has struggled a bit in recent seasons, not being able to exploit the potential he showed in earlier years. If I get any conformation whatsoever, I`ll let you know.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Julian Gorospe interview

Former Euskaltel-Euskadi director Julian Gorospe made an interview with Spanish sports daily El Mundo Deportivo two days ago, which can be read at their homepage. Just click on the link: Here you can read his view on Euskaltel, next season, new signings, Iban, his departure etc. Well worth a few minutes of your day; Julian will be sorely missed at Euskaltel I think.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Orbea ready for 2007

Joseba Zumeta

Continental team Orbea, Euskaltel`s feeder-team, have almost completed their roster for next season. Their budget will be in the region of 650 000 Euros, partly funded by the Fundacion Euskadi. Alvaro Gonzalez de Galdeano will be their new directeur sportif , and, by now, Orbea have signed five new riders; Javier Aramendia from Caja Rural, who will join Euskaltel in 2007, David Martín and Asier Fernández from Cafés Baqué, Igor Romero from Debabarrena and Juan José Oroz from Kaiku. A total of six riders who were present at the start of last season, have left. Alan Perez joined Euskaltel from Orbea in mid-June, and Euskaltel recently signed Iván Velasco. Further, Gustavo Domínguez will join new-team Karpin-Galicia, while Dailos Diaz joins Fuerteventura-Canarias. Vidal Celis and Gorka Amuriza were not offered new contracts. Riders continuing with Orbea will be Josu Agirre, Xabat Otxotorena, Iñigo Lazkano, Iker Mezo, Julen Zubero, Joseba Zumeta, Iván Melero, Brad Armstrong and Aaron Villegas. That will make for a total of 14 riders officialy under contract with Orbea for 2007.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Euskaltel`s season

The positives:

  • A step up from last year
  • Very good Tour
  • Brilliant Vuelta
  • First classic-win
  • Amazing in Vuelta al Pais Vasco and San Sebastian
  • Euskaltel renewed it`s sponsorship
  • Promising signings
  • Promising results in sprints and TTs

The negatives:

  • Bad UCI team ranking
  • Should be stronger all year round
  • Not consistent enough
  • Lost many good riders
  • The loss of Julian Gorospe
  • Lost their leader; Iban Mayo


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