Monday, April 30, 2007

Astarloza and Bru replaces Pérez and Mayoz for Romandie

I`ve once again gotten my Euskaltel line-up for a race wrong. This time the race is the Tour de Romandie, and instead of Rubén Pérez and Iban Mayoz, Mikel Astarloza and Jon Bru will ride. These seven riders will join Mikel and Jon for the hilly Pro Tour stage-race starting tomorrow: Igor Antón, Aitor Galdos, Haimar Zubeldia, Iñgio Landaluze, Amets Txurruka and Gorka Verdugo.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Weekend sum-up

Well, it`s certainly been a good few days for Euskaltel, huh? Unai Etxebarria showed what a quality rider he is by staying away for much of Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Unai is really a class-act, and showed that today in such a big race as the Liège. He`s been in the business for some years now, but he`s just getting stronger and stronger it seems. Samu also had a good day on the bike, coming home 13th. Though Samu perhaps hasn`t been as high up on the rankings in these three classics as he may have wanted, he`s still looking tremendously strong. Mikel Astarloza and Gorka Verdugo also rode strongly today, by claiming 38th and 39th respectively, no more than 1:21 back.

In Rioja the whole Euskaltel team was superb. Three riders inside the top-13 overall, together with second, fifth, eigth and tenth places on stages, is awesome. Dioni Galparsoro seems to be back to his best, claiming 4th overall. Dioni has been so unlucky with injuries and stuff the last years, so it`s fantastic to see him back to his best again. He really deserves it. Another pleasant surprise was the 6th place overall to Euskaltel new-comer Amets Txurruka. Amets has been rather anonymous so far this season, but this result will no doubt kick-start an exciting season for him. Amets is one of the more talented Spanish riders around, and it`ll be interesting to see what he can do come the Tour in July. Igor Antón once again showed his form is absolutely superb. Though, unfortunately for him and Euskaltel, he fell from a potential stage- and overall win on the last descent of stage 2. What`s more, he came 2nd in the mountains competition, so he`ll no doubt leave Rioja feeling a little angry. But, the most important thing is that he`s looking more than good ahead of his first Tour in July. Just to under-line Euskaltel`s strong showing in Rioja, they placed 2nd in the team rankings, behind an all-conquering Caisse d`Epargne outfit. So, congratulations to Euskaltel on a superb weekend of racing!

Euskaltel for Naranco and Asturias

Euskaltel will take the same 8 riders to the Subida al Naranco on the 1st of May and to the Vuelta a Asturias from the 3rd to the 7th of May. These 8 riders will be: Dioni Galparsoro, Beñat Albizuri, Iñaki Isasi, Jon Bru, Unai Uribarri, Andoni Lafuente, Iban Iriondo and Andoni Aranaga. The team will no doubt be led by Dioni Galparsoro, who recently showed his form is excellent by taking 4th place overall in the Vuelta a la Rioja.

No races for Iban ahead of the Giro

Iban won`t take part in any races leading up to his maiden Giro d`Italia in May if is to be believed. Iban doesn`t figure on Saunier Duval`s startlists for either the Tour de Romandie, the Subida al Naranco or the Vuelta a Asturias. But, I`ve been mistake before when it comes to startlists before, so I wouldn`t totally rule out the possibility of Iban racing ahead of the Giro just yet...

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Back tomorrow evening

I`m sorry, but I won`t be able to update the blog until tomorrow evening. I`m going away to visit some relatives, but, be sure, I`ll be back writing Sunday night. See you then...

Friday, April 27, 2007

Koldo 12th in Rioja opener

The opener of the three-day Vuelta Ciclista a la Rioja didn`t quite produce the results Euskaltel wanted. As the day was all flat, hopes were high that Koldo Fernández would add another win to his palmarès. That didn`t materialize though, as Koldo could only muster a 12th place, closely followed by Dioni Galparsoro in 14th. I haven`t got any race-report on the stage, but from what it looks like, Euskaltel didn`t have a rider in the main break of the day. It all came down to a bunch-sprint, with Alberto Loddo taking top honours after a mad dash to the line. All Euskaltel riders, except Andoni Lafuente who finished 18 seconds down, came in with the pack. More on the first stage to come.

Trentino conclusion

The Giro del Trentino came to an end today. The last stage didn`t produce any outstanding results for Euskaltel, but several riders can look back on a good Giro, not least Iván Velasco and Aketza Peña. They both showed their form is coming along just at the right time in light of the up-coming Giro d`Italia, starting on the 12th of May. Iván in the end got an honourable 21st place overall, and that`s not bad at all, especially considering that this is his first season in a Pro Tour team. Aketza also got to show himself on a couple of stages, and no doubt looked good. Joseba Zubeldia and Antton Luengo weren`t way off the pace either, so all in all it`s been a successful Giro del Trentino I reckon. Here`s how the riders did today:
  • 22nd, Iván Velasco, 0:00
  • 57th, Aketza Peña, 0:00
  • 99th, Antton Luengo, 0:00
  • 114th, Joseba Zubeldia, 5:31
  • 116th, Unai Uribarria, 5:31
  • 117th, Lander Aperribay, 5:31

Overall placings:

  • 21st, Iván Velasco, 2:44
  • 34th, Aketza Peña, 12:20
  • 53rd, Joseba Zubeldia, 27:39
  • 60th, Antton Luengo, 32:48
  • 101st, Lander Aperribay, 55:06
  • 119th, Unai Uribarri, 1:01:07

Euskaltel placed 12th on the team rankings.

Poll results: Iban the most talented climber in the peloton?

The poll I recently ran, "Iban the most talented climber in the peloton?", turned out to be a close race. In the end, "No" received 54 % of the votes, and therefore "won". Though, that 46 % of the voters reckon Iban is the most talented climber around surely tells us something about his talent and recognition all around the world. Aupa Iban!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Those were the days...

Even though I`m sure Iban did the right thing in switching from Euskaltel to Saunier Duval, I still miss seeing him in the familiar orange of Euskaltel. You know, Euskaltel with and without Iban really isn`t the same thing. He kind of belongs to Euskaltel I feel, and I still hope to see him back riding for Euskaltel, whenever that may be. I really hope he`ll "come back home", but while we`re waiting, here`s some pics of the Iban we used to know:

Velasco and Peña once again impressive

Aketza Peña and Iván Velasco once again showed their form is excellent ahead of the Giro d`Italia. Iván and Aketza both came in with a rather thin leading group on today`s quite mountainious stage of the Giro del Trentino. Iván came in a very respectable 11th, ahead of quality riders like Michele Scarponi, José Serpa and Vincenzo Nibali, while Aketza was 25th. Overall, Iván is 22nd, 2:44 down, while Aketza is 34th, 12:20 back. Here`s how the Euskaltel riders placed today:
  • 11th, Iván Velasco, 0:00
  • 25th, Aketza Peña, 0:00
  • 63rd, Antton Luengo, 9:47
  • 64th, Lander Aperribay, 9:47
  • 66th, Joseba Zubeldia, 9:47
  • 75th, Unai Uribarri, 15:43

Beñat Albizuri abandoned, though I don`t know why.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Velasco and Peña riding strongly in Trentino

Iván Velasco was today, like on yesterday`s stage, Euskaltel`s best placed rider in the Giro del Trentino. Iván seems to be in really good shape at the moment. Yesterday he was 12th, on today`s hilly stage he was 24th. He now lies 23rd overall. Just like yesterday, Euskaltel did all they could to get into breaks. First out was Antton Luengo, but he wasn`t successful. Then Aketza Peña tried, and together with 6 others, they got a gap of almost 3 minutes. Slowly the gap and number of members in the break decreased. In the end only one rider was left, and that was of course Aketza. Aketza almost pulled it off, but was sadly caught with only 4 km remaining. Even though he`ll be disappointed with coming so close, Aketza can look back on a great performance, no doubt. Aketza got second place on both 2nd category climbs today, as well as placing second in an intermediate-sprint. With his good showing in the Giro d`Oro as well, he seems to be approaching something like top form ahead of the Giro d`Italia. Here`s how the seven Euskaltel riders placed today:
  • 24th, Iván Velasco, 2:20
  • 37th, Aketza Peña, 6:25
  • 46th, Joseba Zubeldia, 10:29
  • 49th, Antton Luengo, 10:29
  • 119th, Unai Uribarri, 27:16
  • 123rd, Beñat Albizuri, 27:16
  • 124th, Lander Aperribay, 27:16

Verdugo impressive; Samu disappointing

Euskaltel enjoyed a somewhat strange day today in the Fleche Wallonne. On the positive side, Gorka Verdugo had an excellent day in the spotlight when looking strong in the break, while Mikel Astarloza also impressed. Though, Euskaltel`s hope for the win, Samu Sánchez, failed to live up to the high standards he`s set himself, coming home 27th. But, he was only 42 seconds adrift of winner Rebellin, so he shouldn`t be ruled out of contention for Liège-Bastogne-Liège this coming Sunday just yet.

Gorka was one of 4 riders that made the break of the day, going after roughly 40 km. The quartet had a lead of almost 7 minutes at one stage, but from then on, the advantage decreased steadily. The peloton, led by Gerolsteiner and Caisse d`Epargne, had it all under control. Though, Gorka tried desperately to keep the peloton at distance, breaking away with fellow breakaway-companion Bichot. Gorka looked impressingly strong, and when Bichot finally had to throw in the towel, he went solo. Gorka got something like a minute on the peloton, but with roughly 40 km remaining, the pack caught him. Nevertheless, Gorka was brilliant today, and showed what a quality rider he is. When the peloton hit the reknown and race-deciding Mur de Huy, Samu was seen close to the front, but as the climb got steeper and steeper, Samu drifted backwards. Eventually he finished 27th, while Mikel got a 47th place to show for his efforts. Here`s how the Euskaltel riders placed:

  • 27th, Samu Sánchez, 0:42
  • 47th, Mikel Astarloza, 1:07
  • 88th, Jon Bru, 6:15
  • 118th, Gorka Verdugo, 11:18

Rubén Pérez, Iñigo Landaluze, Unai Etxebarria and Aitor Galdos all abandoned.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Velasco and Euskaltel impressive in Trentino

Iván Velasco continues to impress in Euskaltel colours. The 27-year-old today came in with the leading group on the first stage of the Giro del Trentino, placing 12th on the same time as winner Damiano Cunego. Not only Iván impressed today. Though the list of results may not indicate it, Euskaltel had a good race today. The whole team, and especially Antton Luengo and Unai Uribarri, were active all day long, initiating several promosing, though eventually unsuccessful, breaks. In the end only Iván was able to come in with the first group, consisting of 39 riders, but Euskaltel can surely look back on a positive day nonetheless. Here`s how the seven riders placed today:
  • 12th, Iván Velasco, 0:00
  • 45th, Joseba Zubeldia, 1:28
  • 73rd, Aketza Peña, 5:31
  • 106th, Antton Luengo, 12:08
  • 107th, Lander Aperribay, 12:08
  • 115th, Beñat Albizuri, 12:08
  • 133rd, Unai Uribarri, 12:13

New line-up for Rioja

The Euskaltel line-up for the up-coming Vuelta a la Rioja I posted some days ago turned out to be wrong, once again. The eight men that will line up, and I swear I`ve got it right this time, will be: Dioni Galparsoro, Igor Antón, Iñaki Isasi, Koldo Fernández, Amest Txurruka, Andoni Aranaga and Andoni Lafuente. This seven-man roster will be led by Xavier Carbayeda.

No Iban for Romandie

Iban will not, according to, take to the start of the Tour de Romandie starting on Tuesday the 1st of May. I had hoped he would, as it would be good preperation for the Giro I reckon. Though, he`ll probably ride some other race(s). More on that later.

Strong Euskaltel team for Romandie

Euskaltel will start the 7-stage Pro Tour stage-race Tour de Romandie running from the 1st to the 7th of May with the following 8 riders according to : Igor Antón, Aitor Galdos, Rubén Pérez, Haimar Zubeldia, Iñgio Landaluze, Amets Txurruka, Gorka Verdugo and Iban Mayoz. The line-up looks really strong, at paper at least, and should ensure that Euskaltel can fight for stage wins as well as high overall placings.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Iban planting a tree

There`s absolutely nothing to report on either Iban or Euskaltel today, so I figured I`d post a picture of Iban planting a tree for the foundation ReCyling the World, a foundation that is something like Saunier Duval`s charity of the year. The picture shows Iban, together with Iker Camaño, planting a tree earlier this year. Interesting, huh?

Unai Etxebarria

  • Full name: Unai Etxebarria Arana
  • Date of birth: 21.11.1972
  • Place of birth: Caracas, Venezuela
  • Turned professional: 1996
  • Joined Euskaltel: 1996
  • Previous teams: none
  • Palmarès: 1st place: Stage 7 and 12 of the Volta a Portugal 1998, Gp Primavera 2000, stage 1 of the Setmana Catalana 2000, stage 3 of the Dauphiné Libéré 2001, stage 4 of the Vuelta a España 2003, GP Llodio 2004, Trofeo Calvia 2004, Trofeo Calvia 2007. 2nd place: Clasica de Alcobendas 1998, stage 5 of the Volta ao Algarve 2000, Fleche Wallonne 2002, GP Primavera 2002, stage 2 of the Vuelta al País Vasco 2002. 3rd place: Stage 15 of the Vuelta a España 1998, stage 4 (ITT) of the Midi Libre 2000, Stage 1 of the Clasica Internacional de Alcobendas 2001.

Jon Bru

  • Full name: Jon Bru Pascal
  • Date of birth: 18.10.1977
  • Place of birth: Vera de Bidasoa, Navarra
  • Turned professional: 2002
  • Joined Euskaltel: 2007
  • Previous teams: L.A. - Pecol (2001-2004), Kaiku (2005-2006)
  • Palmarès: 1st place: Stage 2 and 4 of the Volta ao Santarem 2006. 2nd place: Stage 5 of the Tour de Pologne 2003, Subida al Naranco 2005, stage 1 of the Euskal Bizikleta 2005, GP de Fourmies 2006, Clasica a los Puertos 2006. 3rd place: Stage 1 of the Tour de Pologne 2003, stage 1 and 3 of the GP Rota do Marques 2003, stage 1 of the Volta ao Algarve 2003, stage 2 of the Hessen Rundfahrt 2005.

Samuel Sánchez

  • Full name: Samuel Sánchez Gonzalez
  • Date of birth: 05.02.1978
  • Place of birth: Oviedo, Asturias
  • Turned professional: 2000
  • Joined Euskaltel: 2000
  • Previous teams: none
  • Palmarès: 1st place: Stage 15 Vuelta a España 2005, Escalada a Montjuich 2005, Meisterschaft von Zurich 2006, stage 13 Vuelta a España 2006, stage 2 and 3 Vuelta al País Vasco 2006, stage 3 Vuelta a Asturias 2006, stage 6 (ITT) Vuelta al País Vasco 2007, stage 7 Volta a Catalunya 2007, stage 15 Vuelta a España 2007, stage 19 Vuelta a España 2007, stage 20 (ITT) Vuelta a España 2007, stage 2a (ITT) Vuelta a Asturias 2008, Olympic Games Road Race 2008, Gran Premio de Llodio 2009, stage 4 Vuelta al País Vasco 2010, Clásica Primavera Amorebieta 2010, stage 2 Vuelta a Burgos 2010, stage 5 Vuelta a Burgos 2010, overall Vuelta a Burgos 2010, GP Miguel Indurain 2011, stage 4 Vuelta al País Vasco 2011, stage 12 Tour de France 2011, King of the Mountains Tour de France 2011, stage 1 Vuelta a Burgos 2011, stage 6 Volta a Catalunya 2012, stage 3 Vuelta al País Vasco 2012, stage 6 Vuelta al País Vasco 2012 (ITT), overall Vuelta al País Vasco 2012, stage 7 Critérium du Dauphiné. 2nd place: Tro-Bro Leon 2000, stage 2 Volta ao Algarve 2002, Tour de Haut Var 2003, GP Primavera 2003, stage 5a Vuelta al País Vasco 2003, stage 2 and 4 Vuelta al País Vasco 2004, stage 6 Paris-Nice 2004, Vuelta a Asturias overall 2005, stage 15 Vuelta a España 2005, stage 1 Vuelta a Asturias 2005, Giro di Lombardia 2006, Fleche Wallonne 2006, stage 20 (ITT) Vuelta a España 2006, stage 4 Vuelta al País Vasco 2006, stage 5 Vuelta al País Vasco 2007, Pro Tour 2006, stage 3 Vuelta a Castilla y León 2008, stage 17 Tour de France 2008, stage 20 (ITT) Vuelta a España 2009, Vuelta a España overall 2009, stage 5 Vuelta al País Vasco 2010, stage 8 Tour de France 2010, stage 5 Vuelta a Andalucía 2011, stage 5 Paris-Nice 2011, stage 7 Paris-Nice 2011, stage 1 Vuelta al País Vasco 2011, stage 14 Tour de France 2011, stage 19 Tour de France 2011, stage 4 Vuelta Burgos 2011, overall Volta a Catalunya 2012, stage 4 Vuelta al País Vasco 2012, stage 5 Vuelta al País Vasco 2012, Il Lombardia 2012, stage 5 Vuelta al País Vasco 2013, stage 18 Giro d'Italia (ITT) 2013. 3rd place: Stage 6 Paris-Nice 2002, Vuelta al País Vasco overall 2003, Euskal Bizikleta overall 2004, Ruta del Sol overall 2004, stage 1 Euskal Bizikleta 2004, stage 3 Ruta del Sol 2004, stage 17 Vuelta a España 2006, stage 3 Paris-Nice 2006, stage 2 Euskal Bizikleta 2006, Vuelta al País Vasco overall 2007, stage 10 Vuelta a España 2007, Vuelta a España overall 2007, Giro di Lombardia 2007, stage 2 Volta ao Algarve 2010, stage 4 Paris-Nice 2010, stage 1 Critérium International 2010, stage 14 Tour de France 2010, stage 2 Vuelta a Burgos 2011, stage 4 Vuelta a Andalucía 2012. 4th place: Tour de France overall 2010. 6th place: Olympic Games Time Trial 2008. 6th place: Tour de France overall 2008, 2011.

Unai Uribarri

  • Full name: Unai Uribarri Artabe
  • Date of birth: 28.02.1984
  • Place of birth: Mañaria, Bizkaia
  • Turned professional: 2006
  • Joined Euskaltel: 2006
  • Previous teams: none
  • Palmarès: none

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Euskaltel line-up for Rioja

Euskaltel will take part in the 2.1 ranked Spanish stage-race Vuelta Ciclista a la Rioja this year, running from the 27th to the 29th of April. Eigth Euskaltel riders wil take to the start, and these eight are: Dioni Galparsoro, Igor Antón, Lander Aperribay, Iñaki Isasi, Iban Iriondo, Andoni Lafuente, Amets Txurruka and Aitor Hernández. More info on the Vuelta a la Rioja later...

Samu 15th in Amstel

Samu Sánchez placed an impressive 15th in today`s one-day Pro Tour classic Amstel Gold Race. Samu led home the second group at 1:14 from victor Schumacher, and this is surely a good sign for the two remaining Ardennes classics. Samu had claimed in the days leading up to the race that he didn`t expect to be in the mix, as he caugth a fever after the conclusion of the Vuelta al País Vasco. In that aspect, a 15th is sensational. Though, the rest of the team didn`t perform as good as the line-up would suggest. The next best Euskaltel rider was Gorka Verdugo in a quite good 44th place. I looks like everyone but Rubén Pérez finished today`s demanding race, so at least that`s a positive thing today. Here`s how all Euskaltel riders placed today:
  • 15th, Samu Sánchez, 1:14
  • 44th, Gorka Verdugo, 2:19
  • 62nd, Aitor Galdos, 4:47
  • 72nd, Mikel Astarloza, 4:47
  • 82nd, Unai Etxebarria, 5:45
  • 83rd, Jon Bru, 6:12
  • 85th, Iñigo Landaluze, 8:01

In the team rankings, Euskaltel ended up a lowly 15th.

Aketza Peña 17th in Giro d`Oro

Aketza Peña grabbed a 17th place in today`s Italian one-day race Giro d`Oro. Aketza placed best of the Euskaltel riders, but as Aketza was more than 13 minutes down on winner Kairelis, none of the Euskaltel riders were even close to fight for the win today. I`m sorry, but at the time of writing I haven`t got more info on this race than the list of results, so the results is all I can give you:
  • 17th, Aketza Peña, 13:24
  • 41st, Joseba Zubeldia, 14:06
  • 42nd, Lander Aperribay, 14:06
  • 44th, Iván Velasco, 14:06
  • 50th, Antton Luengo, 14:06

As the rest of the Euskaltel riders who started today don`t feature on the list, that being Beñat Albizuri and Unai Uribarri, I presume they both abandoned.

Iban ready for the Giro?

With a knee-injury and not much time to go until the Giro starts, I wonder if Iban will be in peak condition come the 12th of May. As we all know, his left knee has hampered his Giro preperations considerably, forcing him to abandon the Paris-Nice and the Vuelta al País Vasco, as well as ruling him out of the Ardennes classics. These races were supposed to fine-tune his form and serve as perfect preperation for the Giro; his first big goal for the 2007 season. Now, if you look at his calendar, Iban`s not supposed to do any more races until the Giro starts. How will that affect Iban`s form? Badly, I`m afraid, but I guess Iban will now change his calendar sligthly so that he`ll be ready for the Giro. I have no idea what Iban will do next, but personally I would have liked him to take part in the 6-day Pro Tour stage-race Tour of Romandy, running from the 1st to the 6th of May this year. Even if he would just chill and take it easy in the grupetto, I think that some competition ahead of the 3-week Giro d`Italia would do him good. This year`s Romandy features some seriously hilly stages, as well as a stage with a mountain-top finish. Or perhaps the Vuelta Asturias, from the 3rd to the 7th of May. Though, I guess Iban knows what do to. For all I know, Iban may turn up at the Giro super-fresh and with the legs to follow at his unpredictable best. It`ll be interesting to see, as the Giro seems tailor-made for a rider of Iban`s characteristics this year. Aupa Iban!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Jorge Azanza

  • Full name: Jorge Azanza Soto
  • Date of birth: 26.06.1982
  • Place of birth: Altsasu, Navarra
  • Turned professional: 2005
  • Joined Euskaltel: 2007
  • Previous teams: Kaiku (2005-2006)
  • Palmarès:

Dioni Galparsoro

  • Full name: Dionisio Galparsoro Martínez
  • Date of birth: 13.08.1978
  • Place of birth: Ataun, Gipuzkoa
  • Turned professional: 2003
  • Joined Euskaltel: 2003, 2007
  • Previous teams: Kaiku (2005-2006)
  • Palmarès: 1st place: Stage 3 of the Hessen Rundfahrt 2005, stage 4 of the Vuelta Asturias 2005. 3rd place: Stage 1 and stage 4 of the Vuelta a Castilla y León 2004. 4th overall in the Vuelta a la Rioja 2007.

Iban or Ibán?

OK, I know this is really embarassing, but how do you spell Iban`s name? Is it a straigth forward Iban, or is it Ibán? You see the difference? Some say Iban, some say Ibán. Though, a vast majority spell it as I do; Iban. I guess is`s only a minor difference, and not important whatsoever, but I would like to get it rigth. As you know, I`m Norwegian, and I don`t speak Spanish at all, so I was hoping for some help from you guys. If anyone of you have any idea, would you please leave a comment? I would really appreciate it.

Amets Txurruka

  • Full name: Amets Txurruka Ansola
  • Date of birth: 10.11.1982
  • Place of birth: Markina, Bizkaia
  • Turned professional: 2006
  • Joined Euskaltel: 2007
  • Previous teams: Barloworld (2006)
  • Palmarès: 1st place: Most combative rider in the Tour de France 2007. 2nd place: stage 13 of the Tour de France 2009. 3rd place: Young rider`s competition in the Tour de France 2007. 6th place overall in the Vuelta a la Rioja 2007.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Lander Aperribay

  • Full name: Lander Aperribay Aranda
  • Date of birth: 15.06.1982
  • Place of birth: Donostia (San Sebastián), Gipuzkoa
  • Turned professional: 2007
  • Joined Euskaltel: 2007
  • Previous teams: none
  • Palmarès: none

Andoni Lafuente

  • Full name: Andoni Lafuente Olaguibel
  • Date of birth: 06.05.1985
  • Place of birth: Gernika, Bizkaia
  • Turned professional: 2007
  • Joined Euskaltel: 2007
  • Previous teams: none
  • Palmarès: none

Iban skips the Ardennes

Iban will not ride any of the three Ardennes classics this year. Iban was scheduled to do the two last ones, the Fleche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, but won`t ride them due to his bad knee. Joxean "Matxin" Fernandez, sports director at Saunier Duval, wants Iban to stay home, train and relax and let his knee heel properly. "Matxin" hopes this will do Iban good, so that he can shine in the Giro d`Italia in May.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Azanza operated successfully

Jorge Azanza, suffering from a broken collarbone, underwent a successful operation yesterday. Jorge hopes to be back racing in early June, and if everything goes to plan, he`ll ride the Tour in July.

Astarloza and Vila interview

Mikel Astarloza and Basque Lampre-Fondital rider Patxi Vila gave an interview to the Diario Vasco yesterday. In this interesting interview, the two talk about every aspect of the just finished Vuelta al País Vasco. A very interesting read:

Euskaltel for Giro d`Oro and Trentino

Euskaltel will take part in the Italian races Giro d`Oro, on April the 22nd, and the Giro de Trentino, running from the 24th to the 27th of April. Antton Luengo, Aketza Peña, Joseba Zubeldia, Beñat Albizuri, Ivan Velasco, Unai Uribarri and Lander Aperribay will be directed by Jon Odriozola in both races.

Galdos replaces Azanza

Aitor Galdos will replace the injured Jorge Azanza for Amstel, Fleche and Liège. Aitor will together with Jon Bru, Rubén Pérez, Gorka Verdugo, Iñigo Landaluze, Mikel Astarloza and Unai Etxebarria try to help Samu Sánchez in his quest for classics glory.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Poll results: Should Euskaltel take on any riders implicated in "Puerto" if they cleared their names?

The poll I recently ran gave me the answers I expected for a change. 71 % of the voters meant Euskaltel should give "Puerto"-implicated riders a new chance if they cleared their names, while the remaining 29 % voted "No". You all know my view on it; if good and talented Basque cyclists should clear their names sufficiently enough, I`d be happy to see them ride for Euskaltel, no doubt. By that I mean that it`s not sufficient to just say that "no action was taken against me, so I`m free". Sufficiently enough would be that their names were never on the list, full stop.

Vizcaya to sponsor Euskaltel

La Diputación de Vizcaya has agreed to "sponsor" the Fundación Ciclista Euskadi with one million euros a year for 2007 and 2008. Vizcaya is one of four provinces that make up the Spanish part of the Basque country, and the support will no doubt come handy for Euskaltel.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Euskaltel for Amstel

Euskaltel will dispute Sunday`s Amstel Gold Race with an eight-man roster. Though, as Jorge Azanza is out injured, the last rider to take part is still unknown. My bet would be on Aitor Hernández, who`s riding strongly at the moment. Well, anyway, here`s the 7 riders guaranteed for Sunday: Iñigo Landaluze, Mikel Astarloza, Gorka Verdugo, Samu Sánchez, Unai Etxebarria, Jon Bru and Rubén Pérez. Samu Sánchez will of course be Euskaltel`s sole leader.

Euskaltel injury-update

Euskaltel have at the moment three riders on their injury list. Those three are Alán Pérez, Iban Mayoz and Jorge Azanza. Here`s how they`re doing:
  • Jorge Azanza: Jorge fell and broke his left collarbone inside the last km in the Vuelta al País Vasco`s final ITT-stage. Jorge will be operated tomorrow, and will need two rest for a month at least. Jorge will thus miss the up-coming spring classics. Jorge has said he hopes to be back competing in May/June.
  • Alán Pérez: Alán fell in Sunday`s "Hell of the North", the Paris-Roubaix. Alán will be out of competition for something like 6 to 7 weeks.
  • Iban Mayoz: Iban broke his finger in the crash-marred Gent-Wevelgem. When Iban will return is though not known at this stage.

Irizar the one who summersaulted

Just so you all know, the unknown Euskaltel rider who spectacularly summersaulted in Arenberg on Sunday was Markel Irizar. In some interviews afterwards, he said he was the one. He also said that it ruined his race. Well, the most important thing is that he`s alrigth I guess.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Odriozola interview

Euskaltel sports director Jon Odriozola has given an interview to Basque daily el Diario Vasco. Click and read his thoughts on the Vuelta al Pais Vasco and the start to his Euskaltel career:

Sunday, April 15, 2007

No Iban for Amstel

Somewhat surprisingly, Iban`s name is not on the list of participants for Sunday`s Amstel Gold Race, according to Iban has said numerous times before that he would ride the three Ardennes classics this year, but perhaps his knee makes it useless. Further news on Iban`s schedule later...

Azanza breaks collarbone

Up-and-coming Euskaltel new-boy Jorge Azanza broke his collarbone yesterday. Jorge had one km left of the ITT when his rear-wheel slid under him. Jorge was taken to hospital straigth away, where a fracture was confirmed. I guess that explains why Jorge was nowhere to be seen on the list of results. I feel sorry for Jorge right now, and I wish him a speedy recovery.

Okay Euskaltel in Roubaix

Euskaltel did an okay race today in Paris-Roubaix. As we all know, flat and cobbled races aren`t Euskaltel`s cup of tea, but still 3 riders finished the race. Iban Iriondo was obviously man of the day for Euskaltel today. Iban joined the 30+ break that got away early on. Iban did an amazing job to keep up for a long time, before eventually falling backwards. Though, Iban was still the first Euskaltel rider to cross the finishing line in the velodrome in Roubaix. Iban came in 63rd, while Markel Irizar was 79th and Koldo Fernández 81st. The four remaining riders, Andoni Aranaga, Alan Pérez, Andoni Lafuente and Unai Uribarri all abandoned. At the time of writing though, none of the Euskaltel riders seem to have gotten injured, even though one of the riders underwent a rather spectacular fall in the paved section of the famed Arenberg. The rider crashed in someone lying in front of him, and kind of summersaulted over him. The unlucky Euskaltel rider landed on his neck, but was incredibly quickly up and riding again. Thank God, that looked really bad...

Antón 8th in Amorebieta

Euskaltel had a good day today in the Klasika Primavera. The hilly one-day event in and around Amorebieta saw several Euskaltel riders record good placings. Jaoquim Rodriguez of Spanish outfit Caisse d`Epargne won, while Igor Antón got a good 8th place only 8 seconds behind the victor. Aitor Galdos, Aitor Hernández, Mikel Astarloza and Unai Etxebarria also showed their form is good by claiming 15th, 20th, 23rd and 25th respectively. A more detailed report will probably follow soon, but meanwhile, here`s how all Euskaltel riders placed today:
  • 8th, Igor Antón, 0:08
  • 15th, Aitor Galdos, 1:18
  • 20th, Aitor Hernández, 1:22
  • 23rd, Mikel Astarloza, 1:22
  • 25th, Unai Etxebarria, 1:22
  • 52nd, Jon Bru, 1:42
  • 67th, Aketza Peña, 3:51
  • 68th, Iván Velasco, 3:51
  • 74th, Lander Aperribay, 4:40

Galdeano sums it up

Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano, head of Euskaltel, spoke to after Samu`s win yesterday. Here`s what he said: "Samuel`s victory in the ITT in Oiartzun was special to me. I haven`t had such feelings, the feelings that I had in the team-bus when waiting for Samu`s win to be confirmed, since I rode for ONCE. I relived those moments and it was incredible. To see the feelings of everyone in the bus, the soigneurs, the riders, everyone, was fantastic. The team has worked through the entire week. To win is never easy, but in this case I feel it was more deserved than ever. Samu was so strong today. After getting empty on Friday, Samu`s really impressed. The desire of the fans means a lot to us, and we`ve done everything so that the fans can be proud of their team. And I guarantee that they`ll continue to be proud of the team, as we`re building a sensational team. Finally I want to congratulate Saunier Duval. Juanjo Cobo was the deserved winner. The third place overall by Samu is very important to us".

Samu talks of THAT win

After his win in the ITT in the Vuelta al País Vasco yesterday, Samu Sánchez talked to Here`s what he had to say: "First I want to dedicate this win to the team. To Miguel, Igor, the directors, the soigneurs, my team-mates... I think this is a win for all of us. We`ve prepared for this race for a long time, we`ve made a good race, we`ve come with illusion and desire, and we`ve made an effort to win, something we achieved on the last day. This makes all the suffering worth it. We started out in Urretxu with the intension of winning the whole race, and we`ve shown that every day. The balance is positive, because the attitude, enthusiasm and effort that we`ve put in to it have been amazing. The win in Oiartzun puts a finishing touch to our performance. A stage, third in the overall, the mountains jersey with Aitor Hernández, the combativity prize to Mikel Astarloza, and mainly, the image of the team that we`ve shown, is marvellous for us". Speaking of the ITT, he said: "This is the first ITT I`ve won. Last year I got second in a ITT in the Vuelta a España behind Vinokourov, where I lost by six seconds. On this occasion, I won with two. The profile was complicated, with narrow roads, steep ascents and descents with difficult curves. It was an unusual route. I got better and better. I started out well, and on the last ascent I gave it my all. I wasn`t sure I had won until Cobo arrived, but when he did, it meant a lot to me. Now it`s time to recover and prepare for the Ardennes classics. I like Amstel, Fleche and Liège. They suit my characteristics, and I`m in good form. Last year I got second in Fleche behind Valverde. I`ve shown that I can fight for the win, so the objective is to arrive with hunger in search for the win".


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