Monday, December 31, 2007

Factfiles added

The rider factfiles on the right-hand menu has now been updated. Egoi, Josu and Javier have all got their own now, while the departing riders' profiles have been removed. The new profiles, along with the old ones, will get new pics, the official 2008 pics, as soon as they are posted on Euskaltel's website.

Egoi Martínez

  • Full name: Egoi Martínez de Esteban
  • Date of birth: 15.05.1978
  • Place of birth: Etxarri-Aranatz, Navarra
  • Turned professional: 2002
  • Joined Euskaltel: 2002 and 2008
  • Previous teams: Discovery Channel (2006-2007)
  • Palmarès: 1st place: Tour de l'Avenir overall 2003, stage 11 of the Vuelta a España 2006, the Mountains Competition of the Vuelta a España 2006. 2nd place: Stage 5 of the Tour de Languedoc-Roussillon 2004, stage 1 of the Vuelta a Castilla y León (ITT) 2007, Klasika Primavera 2009, stage 5 Dauphiné 2012, stage 15 Tour de France 2008. 3rd place: Stage 11 of the Tour de France 2004, stage 1 of the Dauphiné Libéré 2006, stage 1 of the Vuelta a Castilla y León 2006, stage 12 Tour de France 2012. 9th: Overall of the Vuelta a España 2008.

Josu Agirre

  • Full name: Josu Agirre Aseginolaza
  • Date of birth: 23.05.1981
  • Place of birth: Tolosa, Gipuzkoa
  • Turned professional: 2006
  • Joined Euskaltel: 2008
  • Previous teams: Orbea-Oreka SDA (2006-2007)
  • Palmarès: 1st place: stage 1 of the Vuelta Ciclista a la Comunidad de Madrid (ITT) 2006

Javier Aramendía

  • Full name: Francisco Javier Aramendía Llorente
  • Date of birth: 05.12.1986
  • Place of birth: Funes, Navarra
  • Turned professional: 2007
  • Joined Euskaltel: 2008
  • Previous teams: Orbea-Oreka SDA
  • Palmarès: none

Friday, December 28, 2007

See you on Sunday

So, I'm going away for a few days for some post-Christmas family-visits. I won't be back until Sunday, so now updates until then I'm afraid. Though, I don't think there would be much to write about anyway these days. But if you want to be sure that you don't miss any important news on Euskaltel at least, tune in to See you all on Sunday!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Euskaltel's calendar revised

Fundacion Euskadi head Miguel Madariaga today told Basque newspaper DEIA that Euskaltel will not take part in the Tour of California in February as they had planned. As a consequence, Samu and Egoi will not get the possibility of honing their time trialling skills in the San Diego wind-tunnel. Why they chose not to do California I don't know, but I guess it's got something to do with logistics. The team's participation in the Giro d'Italia, the first of the three Grand Tours, was also cast into doubt. The team will preferably not take to the start in Palermo, but in case they can't find a better alternative, they'll do it. The team, which would be led by, mainly, Iñigo, Dioni and Koldo, have not performed well in Italy the last few years, but I still hope they'll do it. And with riders like the three aforementioned, you've always got a chance of success.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Aramendia reveals 2008 plans

Euskaltel new-boy Javier Aramendia, who's making the jump to the Pro Tour from feeder-team Orbea, revealed his racing-schedule for the first part of 2008 to DEIA today. The "New Miguel Indurain", as he's called, will get a baptism of fire, starting in the first Pro Tour race of the year in January, the Tour Down Under. He will then take to the start in six Spanish races, namely the Challenge Mallorca, Vuelta a Andalucía, Clásica de Almería, Vuelta a Murcia, Vuelta a Castilla y León and the Gran Premio de Llodio. He will then face his biggest goal of the season; the three Northern Classics. Javier will line up in the Ronde van Vlaanderen, in Gent-Wevelgem and in the infamous Paris-Roubaix. Javier is relishing the possibility of doing the "Hell of the North", saying "I'm passionate about that race". Well I'm not, really, but I've always longed to see an Euskaltel rider capable of getting results in those races. Aupa Javier!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Iban's 2008 calendar; not a good one

No, of course I haven't found his schedule somewhere on the net. This is my theory. In an ideal world, he'd do the Vuelta al País Vasco, the Ardennes Classics and the Tour. Something like that I think. The Giro was a success big time this year, but I doubt he'd do it again. Though, we don't live in an ideal world I'm afraid. My realistic theory: He'll be cleared sometime in late February by CAS. He'll be able to race again, but not really. The Spanish races will allow him to start. They love him. France, Belgium, Holland, Italy and those central-European countries don't, as the UCI told them not to. They'll be afraid to allow him to race as the consequences can be huge. The UCI don't like people who don't agree with them. There'll be no Tour, no Giro, no Ardennes Classics. He'll do the País Vasco perhaps, and then all the national races, like Asturias, Rioja, Alcobendas. It'll be a total mess, as Saunier will do everything to get him into the Tour and other big races. But they won't succeed, I'm convinced of that. He'll do a very small program. He'll get some wins, if he manages to motivate himself for those small races. I'm afraid he won't be able to that though, as Iban's a man for the big-stage, a man for the big occasions. But what do I know? I might be mistaken. I probably am. But it doesn't look good, does it?

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas

I remember writing this same post last year as well. Last year's post read: "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." Well, it's not the 23rd of December, but except for that my message is similar: enjoy the Holidays! I've been doing this blog for a while now, soon it'll be 15 months since the very first post, titled "Iban to Saunier Duval?", appeared on Iban Mayo Blog. I have no plans of stopping just yet, so, once again, stay tuned for everything Iban and Euskaltel. Merry Christmas!

"Matxin" hits out at McQuaid

Saunier Duval head Joxean "Matxin" Fernández finally showed his anger with the way the UCI is treating Iban. He was especially critical of UCI chief Pat McQuaid, just like me, calling him "the worst thing for cycling". Here's what he said in full: "Pat McQuaid is the worst thing for cycling at the moment. He is destroying cycling, and nobody knows why. I gave him my support many times before, but not now." "Matxin" was also furious with the way his team keep getting bad publicity due to the UCI. Iban and Piepoli both tested "non-negative" in the Giro but, as they both had medical exemptions, there was no need for the UCI to go public with it. Things like that are not supposed to be made official, they're supposed to stay within the organisations when the riders in question have shown their "innocence". All they do is to destroy the reputation of the team and the riders alike, so for me, go to h*** UCI. Destroying the reputation of cycling is not what you're payed to do.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

CAS to rule on Iban's future

The "Caso Mayo" is now finally in CAS' hands. The UCI issued a statement on their website, titled "Analysis of Iban Mayo’s B sample: the UCI's position".
It reads:

"Iban Mayo tested positive for EPO on 24 July 2007 during the Tour de France after analysis of an A sample by the Châtenay-Malabry National Anti-Doping Laboratory in Paris.
Following the announcement of this result, the Spanish rider requested an analysis of the B sample. The result of this analysis, conducted by the laboratory in Ghent due to holidays at the Châtenay-Malabry laboratory, could not be qualified as positive or negative.
The Spanish Federation then decided to terminate its disciplinary proceedings against Iban Mayo.

Considering the lack of a conclusive result one way or the other, the UCI requested the Châtenay-Malabry Laboratory to conduct a further analysis of the B sample.
This further test confirms the result of the analysis of the A sample, namely the presence of EPO.

The UCI has thus requested the Spanish Federation to reopen disciplinary proceedings against Iban Mayo for this clear breach of the anti-doping regulations.

The UCI has set a deadline for the Spanish Federation to take a position on this subject. In the event of its refusal to do so, the UCI will refer the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS)."

Some days ago the Spanish Cycling Federation said "no can do", so the UCI has now officially gone to CAS to win this battle, reports Cyclingnews. They're doomed to lose it, but they've decided to give it a try anyway.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Where did you all go?

Iban has got all the support in the world from his fans it seems. His fanbase is huge, much bigger than he probably knows himself. Though, where did the support from his employer go? Wouldn't it be natural that his team, Saunier Duval-Scott, gave him their backing in his dispute with the UCI? I certainly think so, and "Matxin" and all those guys have really let me down on this one. Most teams, if not all, would help their rider if he's being subjected to unfair and disgraceful treatment from the governing body of cycling. I haven't heard a word from them. Well, that's not totally true, I have heard "Matxin" saying something about how he feels bad for Iban and all that, but come on, you guys can do better than that! I guess they're afraid of falling out with the UCI if they support him, and rightly so, but that's not a sufficient excuse. Gianetti, Iban's your employee, he's not being treated the way he should, he's got certain rights as a human being, so get the finger out and do something. An employer is responsible for his/hers employees. That's all that counts; take action.

Spain's got Iban's back

As expected, the Spanish Cycling Federation today confirmed they're on Iban's side in his fight with the UCI. A spokesman for the national federation said: "We're waiting for a war with the UCI. We don't want to go to CAS, but we are prepared to defend our rider". General secretary Eugenio Bermudez objected to the third test of the B-sample in Paris recently, saying "They wanted that second test because they are more interested in a result that works for them". Further, Bermudez defended the cyclists rights in cases like these: "What do we have to do to satisfy people? Change the laws? Destroy each cyclist's career? There are laws for everyone – cyclists, politicians, the UCI – and if Mayo had tested positive on that same day he would have been sanctioned. But the UCI are reading the rules in their own way, which just doesn't work for us." Enough said. Let the war begin.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Poll results: Test to come back positive?

The majority got it right this time; Iban's third B-sample did indeed come back positive. 62 % of the voters predicted this, something which doesn't come as a real surprise given it was tested in Paris.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Down Under line-up

Euskaltel will send a strong team to the first Pro Tour race of the 2008 season. Mikel, Jon, Aitor Galdos, Andoni, Amets and Iván will make up the squad. Mikel will probably the team's man for the GC, having won the race back in 2003. With Amets we've got someone for the climbs, and Aitor will no doubt be rearing to prove his speed in the sprint-finishes. The others are all good bets for breaks, so they should be able to leave their mark on the race.

"I doubt I'll ride next year"

Iban is not optimistic about his chances of pinning on a race-number and return to racing next year. Speaking to DEIA after the news of his positive E-sample broke, Iban said: "I have my doubts that I can race next year. It doesn't look likely because of the UCI. This has been going on for such a long time now, and little by little the hope of returning fades away, at least like a professional. I don't know what to do; it feels like a nightmare. I'm tired, and the problem is; I don't see any end to all this." He definetely seemed demoralized, but nonetheless said he's training like he's always done.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

E-sample positive, as expected

As expected, the Chatenay-Malabry lab in Paris today found Iban's E-sample positive again. Not that they had much choice, though... Anyway, the RFEC will still not do anything to suspend Iban, so that's good news. Further good news is that the lab in Gent, which found Iban's sample negative, has in fact closed the case, meaning the UCI had no right (again!) to re-test it. The case will probably now go to CAS, where Iban can be pretty sure he'll end up on the winning side. Though, this is going to drag on for a a while, so no decision is expected in the foreseeable future. Aupa Iban!

Mayoz joins Karpin

Gladly, Ibán Mayoz has secured himself a ride for next year. Mayoz has landed a deal with ambitious Pro Conti team Karpin-Galicia. It was thought that Mayoz would return to former employer Relax but, as co-sponsor GAM pulled out, that didn't materialize. The 26-year-old Mayoz has got five years of experience as a pro, two of them with Euskaltel, and will be a valuable rider for the Russo-Spanish team.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Antton, it's now or never

My personal favourite Antton Luengo is facing a "make or break"-season next year. The 26-year-old climbing prodigy showed flashes of brilliance in the mountains in 2006, but failed to build on those encouraging rides this season. After seeing Antton rock the mountains in the Deutschland Tour and Subida Urkiola, my hopes were big for the youngster this season. He started out exceptionally well though, it has to be said. He finished a very strong second on the opener of the Vuelta a Andalucía, but since then, he kind of disappeared a bit. He didn't record any results of note for the remainder of the campaign, so he has to start performing regularly if he is to remain with the team in the long-term I'm afraid. There's no doubting the talent, but without results to show for it, it doesn't help. Though, I believe he'll take a step up this year and prove what a great rider he is. Aupa Antton!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Euskaltel do charity

Several Euskaltel riders will participate in charity events the coming days. On Wednesday, the majority of the riders and the technical staff will go to the Hospital de Basurto, a local hospital, with Christmaspresents for the kids forced to spend the holidays at the hospital. On Friday several of the riders will participate in the Navidad de Unicef, or UNICEF's Christmas at the Megapark de Barakaldo. This is all good stuff and a brilliant initiative from the people at the head of the organisation. No wonder Euskaltel is so popular with the Basque locals.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Samu won't leave now

There are rumours surfacing that Samu might be leaving Euskaltel before the upcoming season gets underway in the cycling media these days. Well, here's what I've got to say to that: That won't happen. He might leave at the end of the season, but surely not now. He's got a contract, he's planned his 2008 season and anyway I reckon it's way too late in the off-season to suddenly change teams now. Trust me, he'll be around come the new campaign. Don't you worry...

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Sign the Iban Mayo petition!

We all know Iban has got an enormous fan base world wide. Yesterday was another proof of that. Iban's fan club is giving every human being on earth the possibility to sign the "Justice for Iban Mayo" petition, which will be sent to the UCI. I've signed it myself, and I urge all you Iban fans or sympathizers to follow suit. The petition reads: "Sign this petition to protest against the way professional cyclists are treated. I do like cycling and enjoy it immensely so I beg Vuelta,giro Tour and particularly UCI to be consequent with their interests and not to prosecute cyclists as if they were criminals. Such treatment has been inflicted to many cyclist among whom we may mention Iban Mayo. He has demonstrated that he is innocent in several realized analysis and still the UCI wants to condemn him, it is not understandable and not even legal. We don't want any more doping cases but we neither want to see innocent riders incriminated by the media and their own sport organisation. We want to protect and defend this sport not to destroy it. Yours sincerely." It's a tremendous initiative, so do your bit and sign if you agree. Click:

Mayoz finds a home, sort of...

Iban Mayoz, Euskaltel rider of the past two seasons, has kind of found himself a new team. The thing is, if Relax can come up with the money requested by the UCI, he has. Though, at the moment, that doesn't look good as backer GAM recently pulled out. The most likely scenario is that Relax will cease to exist within a few days, something that would leave many talented riders without a ride next season. But as long as there is life there is hope, so hopefully we'll see Mayoz back in the peloton come next year.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Samu outlines Tour ambitions

Samu today confirmed he will take part in next year's Tour de France. He told Cyclingnews about his hopes for the race: "I want to get there in the best possible condition in order to fight for the general classification, but also to win a stage. I don't have a lot of experience in the race (he took part in 2002 and 2003, but abandoned on both occasions) ,but it doesn't matter, as it's very difficult to plan a race that is gained day by day." Samu further revealed that he'll line up at the Vuelta a Murcia, running from March 4-8, where he hopes to hone his climbing and time trialling skills even more. Prior to that, he will have visited the wind-tunnel in California, just like he did last year.

Astarloa too old for Euskaltel

Former World Champion Igor Astarloa, now of Milram, revealed to DEIA that he would love to join Euskaltel, but that he was told he was too old. The Classics specialist has had a bad year with the German/Italian formation due to injuries and illness, and was told by the Milram heads that he could look for another team if he wanted to. Igor spoke to Madariaga, but was told he didn't fit into the program because of his age. Euskaltel would focus on youth, not 31-year-olds. Igor was left a little baffled, as Madariaga had inquired about his availability just a year prior. Though, he still has hope of one day representing his home team, saying: "Maybe if I perform really well this year they'll be interested". I sure hope he does, as I would love to see Igor pull on the famous orange jersey. He would be such an inspiration for the younger riders, and is still more than capable of pulling of major wins. Igor will ride for Milram again next year, but perhaps in 2009 he'll team up with the best Basques at Euskaltel.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Samu may leave come 2009

Samu may leave Euskaltel come the end of next season. The 29-year-old all-rounder did not accept Euskaltel's first contract offer to extend beyond 2008, citing economical reasons. Samu then came with his own contract suggestion, to which Euskaltel are yet to reply. Madariaga has admitted there is a chance Samu will leave come the end of the upcoming campaign, and has said to DEIA that they'll answer Samu at January the 10th the latest; the day of the team's presentation. The difference between the two parties are only economical ones, as both would like to extend the cooperation. Well, Madariaga, Galdeano and all you other Euskaltel heads, I don't care how much money he wants, give it to him, break the bank. He's fundamentel to the success of the squad at present and in the future.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The UCI makes me sleep

I was looking through UCI's homepage a few days ago for any news on Iban. Of course it was a longshot, but I decided to give it a try. It was a waste of time naturally, as the UCI likes to keep things silent and under the carpet. What I found though, to my surprise, was that Iban is still on the UCI's riders ranking list. Iban placed 87th, having accumulated 19 points. He would no doubt placed higher if it wasn't for the false positive, but enough about that. I had just assumed the UCI would have removed him from their lists. It would be against the rules, sure, but that wouldn't stop them, that's standard procedure almost. Okay, I'll try to tune down my sarcasm towards the UCI, I know it gets a little out of hand sometimes. My apologies. Anyway, what happened to that B-sample, or should I say E-sample? The UCI must surely be the slowest organisation on earth. Zzzz, zzz

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Alán recuperating

Alán Pérez is recuperating from his sore right ankle these days. The injury was sustained towards the latter stages of the season, but he's still suffering from it. He was supposed to participate in the III Criterium de Corralejo on the Fuerteventura islands, in which Haimar posted 2nd, but sadly had to back out at the last minute due to his ankle. He'll hopefully be back soon, ready and set for another long season for the young hopeful.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Haimar 2nd in cyclosportive

Several Euskaltel riders are honing their form for the upcoming season on the Fuerteventura islands. Markel, Haimar and Iñigo, together with several other Basques trying to escape the rain and cold weather back home, among them former Euskaltel riders Mikel Pradera and David López Garcia, are getting in the necessary miles down there these days. On Friday the all took part in a local cyclosportive race, named the Dunas de Corralejo-Kilómetros contra el Cáncer. Haimar grabbed second spot, and let's hope that's a sign of what's to come from him next year. How the others fared I don't know, but as it's a cyclosportive, it doesn't really matter anyway to be honest. The important thing is that they're getting into decent shape, and especially so for Haimar who'll be targeting many of the early-season races.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Orbea go young

Euskaltel's feeder team, Orbea Oreka SDA, will be a much revamped formation next year. The team, with Álvaro González de Galdeano, Igor's older brother, at the helm, will focus almost solely on youth. The only riders to stay with the team from the 2007 season will be David Martín, Iván Melero and Igor Romero. The rest of the riders that made up this campaign's squad have all been showed the door to make room for no less than 9 riders, yeah you didn't misread it, under the tender age of 23. Those 9 include ex-Euskaltel rider Unai Uribarri, who'll be the team's most experienced rider. Joining him will be the vastly talented Eladio Sánchez, previously of Liberty Seguros, and the following 7 young hotshots: Daniel Sesma, Aitor Olano, Eriz Ruiz de Erentxun, Jonathan Castroviejo, Mikel Nieve, Sergio de Lis and Miguel Mínguez. I admit I don't know a whole lot about all these youngsters, which maybe isn't that strange considering that most of them are 19 and 20-year-olds. Though, I have been following two of them, namely Jonathan Castroviejo and Aitor Olano. The two caught my attention early on last season through strong performances and results in the Spanish youth categories, and I already then hoped they would come to Orbea's attention. They're hugely talented, just like the rest of the bunch, and hopefully they'll one day be a part of the Euskaltel line-up. At least time is on their side.

Saturday, December 08, 2007


This is the placard Iban's fan club put on show in the cyclo-cross race held in Igorre a week or so ago. The placards were highly visible all day long, and attracted a lot of attention. Mission accomplished!

Friday, December 07, 2007

Igor "attracted" by 2008 Vuelta parcours

First of all, I'm sorry for my absence the last few days. You see, the thing is, my keyboard hasn't been working properly of late. Well, it hasn't worked at all to be honest, so it's been close to impossible to write anything. Anyway, back to what really matters these days; the Vuelta 2008.

Miguel Madariaga, Igor González de Galdeano, Xabier Carbayeda, Mikel Astarloza and Igor Antón were all present at the unveiling of the Vuelta a España route in the Parque IFEMA in Madrid on Wednesday. Unipublic, the organiser, unveiled a mountainious parcours and, as Igor will probably captain the team next year, this was a good thing. "There are several mountain-stages", he told "If I'm in good form I can perform well I think. There are five summit-finishes, and other mountainious stages as well. The truth is that it's an attractive route for me, as well as the spectators". Mikel, who's more known for his skills against the clock than his climbing, wasn't just as pleased, but emphasized that the strongest man will prevail. "Next year's Vuelta will be different from this year's. There's only one flat time trial, and a lot of hard stages in the mountains. It starts with a team time trial, just like in the Giro this year, and that's always a good spectacle. All in all it's a Vuelta favourable for the climbers, but we'll take it as it comes. Anyway, the best one always wins in the end".

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Iban figures in Saunier's plans

"Matxin" Fernández has planned the 2008 season with Iban in his mind. Iban will, if he's allowed to race that is, do the Tour just like this year, but whether he'll do the Giro as well he didn't say. "We will prepare for the Tour with Iban, but I'm not sure if ASO will be very pleased with that", he told El Correo.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Matxin frustrated by "Caso Mayo"

Joxean "Matxin" Fernández, head of the new-names Saunier Duval-Scott, is still without a clue as to what's going to happen with Iban. "Matxin" is lost for words when it comes to the UCI's terrible handling of the case, and told DEIA: "Why isn't he decleared negative? I just don't get it". He hopes to have Iban with him in 2008, as he's sorely needed on the team, but isn't very optimistic about his eventual return to racing. "I believe he can return, as he can take his case to CAS. But anyway, he wil probably never be able to run the Giro, the Tour or the Vuelta, or any other Pro Tour events for that matter, as he would be stopped by the organisers. It's horrible, and we need a decision soon". "Matxin" says it all, really. Iban may, and probably will, return, but return to what? A racing-calendar without any races in it? Well done UCI, well done...

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Aitor Galdos targets early-season races

After a slightly disappointing first season with the team, sprinter Aitor Galdos hopes to return to winning ways next campaign. The 28-year-old admitted to Gara that this season was below par, saying"I know 2007 was a really bad year. I did not reach the goals I had set, and did not respond to the team's faith in me." Though, he was confident that next year will be much better, saying "I know I can win races next year, as I've solved many of the problems I struggled with this year." That sounds good, and he will turn to the early-season races such as the Tour Down Under, the Challenge Illes Balears, the Vuelta a Andalucía, the Tirreno-Adriatico and Milano-San Remo, to break his winless streak dating back to the summer of 2006. He also said he would love a shot at two of the Ardennes Classics, namely Amstel Gold and Fleche Wallonne.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Iban to miss team camp

Iban will not be present at Saunier Duval's first team get-together of the year, starting today in Noja, Cantabria. Iban would not violate the Ethical Code by actually being there, as he's not under investigation, but has decided not do so anyway as it probably wouldn't do his relationship to the UCI any good. He told DEIA that he wouldn't be there, but that he's training on his own back home. "I'm training, I ride my bike and I go to the gym", he said.

Friday, November 30, 2007

"First to 21 wins"

The latest issue of Procycling, probably the best cycling mag out there, includes some lines about Iban and his multiple B-tests. The brilliant Jeff Jones, who writes the sarcastic and at times hilariously funny "Keeping up with the jones" news analysis, was obviously on Iban's side in this case. To quote Mr Jones, here it is: "Continuing on with the positive theme, it's absolutely fantastic to see rigorous scientific methods being employed in Iban Mayo's case. Positive A sample, negative B sample. Drop the case? No, just re-test the B sample until it comes back positive. Best of three. No wait, best of five. First to 21 wins". He got it spot on, huh?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Iban's fan club to show support

Iban's fan club, the Iban Mayo Lagunartea, will show it's support for Iban on Sunday. A race of the cyclo-cross World Cup will be held in Igorre, where he was born, on Sunday, and Iban's fans will take advantage of the occasion to showcase their support for Iban and his fight for justice. The fan club will bring a "Iban Mayo Justizia"'-placard, which I don't think needs translation, to the event, and will let their opinion show. It's a great initiative and, even though most people are aware of the injustice and unfair treatment he's being subjected to, will further put forward Iban's case to the public.

More plans for 2008

Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano further revealed the team's plans for the upcoming season in today's Gara. In short, here's what he had to say:

  • The team will ride the Giro
  • Mikel and Haimar to lead in the Tour de France
  • Mikel and Igor will lead the team's charge in the Vuelta al País Vasco
  • Igor will probably not do the Tour; he'll focus on País Vasco and the Vuelta
  • Haimar will as usual aim for the Tour, but will also aim for some early-season stage-races
  • 10 riders, among them Haimar, Rubén, Iván Velasco, Amets and Aitor, will aim to start the season on a strong note
  • Samu's racing-calendar will be planned more in detail when he gets to know whether or not he'll do the Olympics

Either Igor or Samu to do Tour

Samu and Igor won't both do the Tour next year. If Samu does the Tour, then Igor will do the Vuelta. Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano said to the press yesterday that if Samu's going to do the Olympics, he'll do the Tour, and then Igor will probably do the Vuelta instead. It's unlikely that they'll both ride the Grand Tour in July. Though, if Igor is to take part in the Vuelta, he'll lead the team, no doubt, according to Euskaltel's technical secretary. I had hoped they'd both ride the Tour de France, as they would, together with Haimar, Mikel and Egoi, form an awe-inspiring quintet.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Euskaltel's plans for 2008

Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano has already given indications of how next year's racing-calendar will look like. The team will have approximately 25 racing-days less than this year. No races in Portugal will be done, while in France only the Pro Tour races will be on the team's schedule, except for the Tour and some Classics perhaps. The team will also give the Vuelta a la Rioja and the Giro del Trentino a miss next year, though the Giro di Piemonte will suprisingly be included in the team's 2008 plans. Galdeano confirmed that Samu is likely to do the Tour next year, and he also mentioned the riders in the frame for a spot on the Tour team. It looks to be the same team as last year, with Mikel, Haimar, Rubén, Amets, Iñigo, Igor, Gorka, Aitor and Jorge all on the short-list. The team will likely do the Giro as well, suddenly, as Markel and Dioni were definite starters for the Italian Grand Tour according to Igor. Euskaltel will, reluctantly, start the season in January in the Tour Down Under, and might also head to the States for the Tour of California in February as the team have received an invitation. Nothing has been decided, but it's an option. Obviously there'll be many changes come the new season, but one thing stays the same; the biggest goals. As always, the Vuelta al País Vasco and the other Basque races, together with the Tour and the Vuelta, will be the main objectives says Igor.

Samu to do Tour

Samu will, according to several sources, probably do the Tour instead of the Vuelta next year. Samu, who's been brilliant in the Vuelta the last few years, has his eyes firmly set on the Beijing Olymipcs in the summer of 2008. The course is tailor-made for him and, as the Tour ends just 10 days prior to it, he figured "why not do the Tour as well?". Samu did the Tour in 2002 and 2003 I think, but hasn't participated ever since. It would be a big boost to the whole squad if Samu was to take part, as he'll no doubt leave his mark on the race.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

"What's happened to Iban is bad for everybody"

Fundacion Euskadi head Miguel Madariaga commented on Iban's on-going doping-case in today's Diario Vasco. Even though he doesn't really say that much, it's clear he has sympathy for Iban and that there's no bad feelings concerning Iban's departure from the team. "No matter what some people might have said; I'm not happy with what has happened to Iban. It's bad for everybody. For cycling in general it's bad, though I think it's worst for Iban himself. It must be terrible not being able to do anything. A person like me, with cycling in the blood, cannot be happy with this situation. Mayo left Euskaltel and initiated a new stage in his career elsewhere. When he left, we wished him the best of luck".

Egoi: "The team has changed"

In today's El Correo there is an interview with the returning Egoi Martínez. The 29-year-old will be one of Euskaltel's main hopes for success come the new season, and was looking forward to assuming leadership responsabilities. He mainly talks of his stay with Discovery, put also had something to say about his new team. Read on: "It's been the hardest winter ever. As I'll be one of the captains I've had to put down a lot of work. I hope to return to the level I displayed in 2006. Here, like with Discovery, I'll have freedom in some races, but sometimes I'll work for the others as well. After all, there are many good riders in this team. The team has changed a lot; you can easily see that from outside as well. We talked about how the team has changed in Discovery. I've always got along well with Miguel Madariaga, and I like Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano's vision of the sport. He'a an intelligent director."

Lissavetzky: "I won't argue with the UCI"

Spanish Secretary for Sport, the controversial Jaime Lissavetzky, has said he's reluctant to fight with the UCI in the "Mayo case". "A balance between the fight against doping and the respect for the rights of cyclists needs to be found", he started, but then, disappointingly, went on to say "I don't want to enter into polemics with the UCI. When I heard that the B sample was not 'positive', I said that the rules had to be fulfilled, that is, Iban Mayo was cleared of doping. But then we come into some formal legal aspects used by the UCI as a reason for claiming a new analysis of the B sample, so I don't want to argue with the UCI". Well, this is disappointing, as I had hoped Lissevatzky knew the rules for these kind of cases. But then again, who can blame him? Has there ever been a case like this before?

Monday, November 26, 2007

Poll results: When is Iban's test coming back (again)?

Iban's test is probably coming back in December, and the majority got it right this time round. 30 % voted for "December", while 23 % voted for the originally-unserious-but-maybe-not-so-unlikely-after-all option of "Before London 2012". Interestingly, "Never of course" accumulated 14 %, clearly showing what many cycling fans think of the UCI these days.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

What's the rules?

The RFEC (the National Spanish Cycling Federation) has stated that they've shelved Iban's case, and that an eventual positive third B-sample test would do nothing to change their verdict. To them, Iban's cleared and free to race. But is that all? Haven't the UCI got anything to say if it comes back positive? Or is it enough that the RFEC clears him? I'm not sure, so I'm asking you, my readers, for some help here. What's the rules for these kind of cases? Is the RFEC's verdict all that counts in the end?

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Iban protest third test

Iban and his team of representatives and lawyers are not happy with the UCI's decision to perform a third B-sample test. Iban finds it ridiculous, and rightly so, that the third test will be carried out in the only lab that's come up with a positive result so far: " They will get the result they want there (in Chanenay-Malabry)," he said frustrated. "In Paris they'll be able to analyse it time and time again until they get the result they want. They'll do it 15 times over if that's what it takes". Iban's representatives have asked the UCI to explain how on earth this is legal, but has of course not received an answer as of yet. Iban has therefore said that neither he nor one of his representatives will be present in Paris for the testing. The Spanish papers are all on Iban's side in this fight, with many highly-regarded newspapers calling the UCI criminals and claiming Iban is being prosecuted and the subject of a witch-hunt. I couldn't agree more. Luckily his national cycling federation share our opinions, as a spokesman for the RFEC said that "we won't change our decision no matter the result of the third test. We cannot judge the same thing twice. We've shelved the case".

10 days...

The testing of Iban's B-sample will be carried out between the 4th of December and the 6th of December. The first week in December is the new date; assuming Iban or one of his representatives are present in Paris.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Test put on hold

The third testing of Iban's B-sample has, incredibly, been put on hold. The UCI decided to postpone the testing as they, suddenly, wanted Iban or a representative of him to be present. This totally contradicts all they've said earlier about the sample being tested no matter what, but I guess that's the way the UCI go about things. "The analysis of the B was scheduled to occur in Paris yesterday (Wednesday), but it was postponed to make absolutely sure that Mr. Mayo had the opportunity to attend or elect a representative to attend the opening and analysis on his behalf," she said. "I can't confirm the new date publicly until Mr. Mayo, RFEC [the Spanish Cycling Federation] etc. have acknowledged receipt of the information." Well, first of all Gripper, you've got to send a notification to them. It's kind of hard to "acknowledge a receipt of the information" if they don't have any information. Further she said: "The analysis of the B sample was conducted by the Gent lab. It was inconclusive. They sent the results to the Sydney lab for a second opinion. The sample itself was not sent to Sydney. Sydney confirmed the inconclusive result and suggested that the remainder of the B sample be analysed in the Paris lab to obtain a conclusive result". Well to most this might seem logical. But it's not. If a test is inconclusive, it's classified "negative", as EPO use would have given a clear and straightforward "positive". Anyway, I've said this all before, so I think I'm just going to leave it at that...

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Euskaltel to hold training-camp

Euskaltel will stage a training-camp for all 26 riders in Derio running from Monday to Thursday next week. The team will mainly train together and plan what races to do and what races not do for each individual rider in 2008. Medical examinations and meetings with the press will also take place. The last couple of years Euskaltel have held a training-camp in Alicante in January but, due to the inclusion of the Tour Down Under on the Pro Tour calendar, this won't happen in 2008.

Uribarri gets second chance

Out-of-contract Euskaltel rider Unai Uribarri was yesterday surprisingly signed by the team's feeder team, Orbea Oreka. The 23-year-old has spent two rather unsuccessful seasons with Euskaltel, but was gladly given a new chance of making it in the cycling world. With two years in the Pro Tour on his back, Unai will provide much-needed experience to an otherwise very young 2008 roster. The talent is there, it's just about getting it out. Aupa Unai!


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