Friday, June 29, 2007

Markel disappointing in NC TT

Markel Irizar, Euskaltel`s only representative in the National Championship time trial, did not ride as well as hoped today. It was hoped and believed that Markel could maybe get a top 5 spot if everything worked, but sadly, nothing worked for him today. Markel finished the race in 23rd place, a full 5:52 adrift. Markel himself wasn`t exactly pleased after the race to put it like that. "I wasn`t good", he told, "before the start I wanted to make a good race and to be close to the best ones. But the time I clocked wasn`t any good. It was a very hard time trial, with many ascents and descents, not to mention the wind... It was too long for me, and I suffered badly, especially as my legs weren`t up for it. I`m not content with my performance, but all I can do now is to relax and focus on Sunday`s road race, where I hope to do better".

No NC for Iban confirmed

Saunier Duval published a list of 13 riders who`ll ride the Spanish National Championship road race on Sunday, and Iban did not figure. Neither does heavy-hitters like Gil or Marchante. I seriously don`t know why Iban won`t take part, and I think it`s a shame really. The course suits him, it`s a prestigious race, and, most importantly, it would have given him a chance to compete. Competition would certainly benefit Iban at this moment I think, as he hasn`t been competing since the Giro, and the Tour is due to start in a week. Such a hard race would also give him a clue as to where he stands compared to other Tour contenders, so that his form won`t be an unknown coming into the Tour. But, well, I guess once again that Iban and his Saunier chiefs know what they`re doing.

No NC for Iban after all?

According to Es Cislismo today, Iban won`t ride the Spanish National Championship road race on Sunday. Iban has been on the start list for some time now, so where they have got this info from, I don`t know. I guess I`ll know more by tomorrow, so stay tuned.

Iban to sign chart tomorrow?

11 Saunier Duval riders have signed the anti-doping agreement at the time being. Iban is not one of them, yet, but 4 of the 11 are on the Tour team; Cobo, Rinero, Cañada and Millar. The other 7 are: Simoni, Riccó, Wielinga, Alarcon, Zarate, Gómez Gómez and Trentin. An article on the trustworthy says that the Saunier Duval management will discuss this controversial document all riders must sign if they are to participate in the Tour tomorrow, and if all Saunier riders will have sign it. Some of the riders, with José Ángel Gómez Marchante in particular, have voiced their disapproval of the agreement, so what the outcome of tomorrow`s meeting will be is still up in the air. Though, I`m quite sure all the Tour riders at least will have signed it by tomorrow, including Iban. I`ll check the list of riders who`ve signed the chart all evening and until Iban signs it to look for updates, so be sure to tune in to Iban Mayo Blog for the latest on this case.

Iban to lead Saunier as Marchante drops out

Iban will likely now lead the Saunier Duval team in the Tour, as Gómez Marchante won`t take to the start. Marchante is suffering from an "intestine disease", as Saunier`s homepage reported, and that will likely lead to Iban getting a lot of support in the mountains. Marchante was supposed to be Saunier`s man for the GC, but now most of the focus will be on Iban winning a stage in stead. David Cañada Gracia will replace Marchante.

Euskaltel ready for the Tour

The UCI has now officially confirmed that the Euskaltel team that will take part in the Tour has signed the anti-doping chart. On their list of riders who have signed the commitment, all 9 Tour riders, together with reserve Juanjo Oroz, figure. That`s good news for sure, and I`m expecting more Euskaltel riders to sign shortly.

Tour team sign anti-doping chart

All 9 Euskaltel riders who will ride the Tour, together with reserve Juanjo Oroz, have signed the UCI`s new anti-doping agreement, thereby enabling them to take to the start in London next Saturday. Though, the documents signed by the 10 riders haven`t been sent to the UCI yet. But, they will...

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Iban in the Pyrenees

In preparation for the fast-approaching Tour de France, Iban visited some of the climbs that will make up the queen-stage of this year`s race. Stage 16 from Orthez - Gourette to the Col d’Aubisque is viewed as the stage for the overall contenders and the climbers to show what they`ve got, and crosses the border to the Basque Country along the way. The stage takes in the mythical Col de la Pierre St-Martin and the Porte de Larrau, a 12,5 km monster of a climb Iban has bever done before. Therefore Iban, along with fellow Igorre-born Gorka Amuriza, now riding for Continental team Grupos Nicolas Mateos, decided to take on the two climbs, accompanied by Basque newspaper DEIA. Iban and Gorka did both climbs in bad weather, with Iban arriving at the summit of the St-Martin totally frozen and shivering. Though, he won`t regret visiting the climbs when the Tour peloton takes it on on the 25th of July.

Iban fit for fight

Iban is quickly approaching Tour de France fitness. Speaking to DEIA yesterday, Iban said that he`s lost a lot of weight after the Giro. If he is to reach his ideal weight, he`ll have to lose one more kilo, something he says he will probably do during the first week of the Tour.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Iban`s Tour team confirmed

As was predicted earlier, Saunier Duval`s Tour team will look like this: Iban, David Millar, José Ángel Gómez Marchante, Iker Camaño, David De La Fuente, Juanjo Cobo, Rubén Lobato, Francisco Ventoso and Christophe Rinero. David Cañada, "Litu" Gómez and Jesús Del Nero are the reserves. "Joxean" Fernández and Sabino Angoitia, one of Iban`s best friends, will lead the nine chosen ones, in search of the team`s first ever Tour de France win.

12 riders for NC road race

Euskaltel will take 12 riders to the Spanish National Championship road race on Sunday. Beñat Albizuri, Lander Aperribay, Jon Bru, Iban Iriondo, Iñaki Isasi, Markel Irizar, Andoni Lafuente, Iban Mayoz, Alan Pérez, Amets Txurruka, Unai Uribarri and Juanjo Oroz will do their best to fight for the win on the hilly 189 km trek. It seems that Euskaltel will have to pin their hopes on Iñaki, Jon and Ametz in my eyes, as they have the capabilities and the form to win this sort of race. Why only 12 out of 30 Euskaltel riders will take part is a mysteri to me. Most other Spanish teams are bringing all their Spanish riders, something the heads of Euskaltel should consider as well.

No NC ITT for Iban

Iban won`t take part in Friday`s Spanish National Championship time trial. Iban has opted to just focus on Sunday`s road race, where he will line up as one of the favourites.

Markel Euskaltel`s representative in ITT

Markel Irizar will be Euskaltel`s sole representative in the Spanish National Championship time trial this coming Friday. Markel has delivered great results in TTs so far this year, and by looking on the startlist, I reckon he might get a top 10 spot, something which would have been great for him. The top favourites are, well, Caisse d`Epargne, with Plaza, León Sánchez and Gutierrez all taking part. The profile is rather hilly in fact, something that will hopefully suit Markel. Why Markel is the only rider from Euskaltel taking part, I don`t know, but what I do know is that more of them should participate. Those who won`t ride the Tour should have taken this chance to improve their TTing. But, anyway, Markel will represent Euskaltel in a brilliant way I`m sure...

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Isasi and Azanza complete Tour team

Jorge Azanza and Iñaki Isasi will both take to the start in the Tour de France this year. The Fundacion Ciclista Euskadi just confirmed this, and thus the team will consist of these 9 riders: Haimar Zubeldia, Igor Antón, Amets Txurruka, Rubén Pérez, Gorka Verdugo, Mikel Astarloza, Iñigo Landaluze, and the aforementioned Jorge and Iñaki. More on Euskaltel`s Tour prospects later...

Monday, June 25, 2007

Relive Iban`s Giro glory

Didn`t get to see Iban`s Giro win? Or you want to see it again? No prob, you can watch most of Iban`s terrific Giro stage-win in Termo di Camaiore now on Just click on the link below, sit back, and enjoy. The full video lasts something like an hour and 5 minutes, and includes the last km live, "processo alla tappa", Iban`s celebrations, and of course the after-stage show. Though, everything`s in Italian, but, it`s anyway definetely worth to watch. Click:

OK Euskaltel in Eindhoven

Euskaltel had an OK ride in today`s team time trial in Eindhoven. Euskaltel ended 21st out of the 23 teams that took part, so that`s at least better than last year. Euskaltel beat T-Mobile and Bouygues Telecom, and were only half a second behind Gerolsteiner, so I am actually quite pleased. Unai Etxebarria, Alan Pérez, Iñaki Isasi, Unai Uribarri and Markel Irizar crossed the line together, while Samu Sánchez, Joseba Zubeldia and Iban Iriondo came in some minutes back. Aupa Euskaltel!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Tour de Suisse finally over

The Tour de Suisse concluded today with a 33,7 km ITT. I don`t think too many Euskaltel riders will be sad it`s over, as the results wasn`t much to brag about. Ibán Mayoz rode an OK time trial, coming home 48th. The three others came in far back. Results:

  • 48th, Ibán Mayoz, 3:42
  • 78th, Juanjo Oroz, 4:46
  • 116th, Iván Velasco, 6:03
  • 127th, Jon Bru, 6:33

Final overall ranking:

  • 59th, Ibán Mayoz, 49:38
  • 77th, Jon Bru, 1:04:04
  • 84th, Iván Velasco, 1:09:46
  • 90th, Juanjo Oroz, 1:14:12

Euskaltel ended dead last on the team ranking, so I guess that says it all...

Iban Mayoz 20th in Switzerland

Iban Mayoz was the only rider to come in with the 56-man strong leading group on the stage 8 of the Tour de Suisse. The three remaining riders, Jon Bru, Juanjo Oroz and Iván Velasco, all came in with the gruppetto more than 12 minutes back. Besides from that there`s not much to report. Soon this race is over....

Friday, June 22, 2007

Iban back in action

Iban will return to competitive racing in the Spanish National Championship road-race on Sunday the 1st of July. This will be Iban`s only competitive outing ahead of the Tour, which kickc off on July the 7th. More on Iban`s chances in the NC, his rivals, the course etc. later...

The let down continues...

Euskaltel had another lacklustre day in the Tour de Suisse today. On the "queen-stage", the best placed Euskaltel rider was Ibán Mayoz in 50th place, 9:07 adrift. Juanjo Oroz was a disappointing 86th at more than 24 minutes, while Jon Bru and Iván Velasco both came in with the gruppetto 39:46 back. It`s really been a bad showing for Euskaltel in Suisse, but as there are only two stages left, the end is, thank God, near.

Tour de Suisse stage 6

Euskaltel continued their "non-protagonism" in the Tour de Suisse on stage 6. None made the break on the shortened stage, and none were fighting for the win. Iván Velasco came in first of the Euskaltel riders in 44th place, 3:16 down. Jon Bru and Juanjo Oroz came in 50th and 51st respectively, 4:22 and 4:53 down. Ibán Mayoz came in with the gruppetto over 20 minutes down. It`s not been a successful Tour de Suisse for Euskaltel this year, so far, at least. I hope to see some of them on the attack in the days to come.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Euskaltel for Eindhoven TTT

Euskaltel will, like every Pro Tour team, take part in the annual Eindhoven team time-trial this coming Sunday. Euskaltel lost this race solidly last year, so the goal this time around must be to avoid last place. Surprisingly, Samu Sánchez will take part for the very first time. The rest of the 8-man team will be made up of Iñaki Isasi, Unai Etxebarria, Markel Irizar, Iban Iriondo, Alán Pérez, Unai Uribarri and Joseba Zubeldia.

Juan José Oroz

  • Full name: Juan José Oroz Ugalde
  • Date of birth: 11.07.1980
  • Place of birth: Pamplona, Navarra
  • Turned professional: 2005
  • Joined Euskaltel: May 2007
  • Previous teams: Kaiku (2006), Orbea-Oreka SDA (2007)
  • Palmarés: 2nd: stage 4 of the Vuelta a Asturias 2007, stage 2 of the Vuelta a Andalucía 2009.

Beñat out as Suisse misery continues

Another Euskaltel rider abandoned the Tour de Suisse today. Beñat Albizuri threw in the towel, meaning there are only four Euskaltel riders left in the race. Though, those four are doing an excellent job. Today, Juanjo Oroz broke clear from the pack with 8 km remaining; a brave and impressive move from the new Euskaltel rider. Though, the pace in the pack was on, so he was caught with only a couple of km to go. But, still, a sign of strength from Juan José. The race eventually ended in a mass-sprint, with Robbie McEwen taking snacthing the win ahead of Bennati and Zabel. The remaining Euskaltel riders all finished safely inside the peloton.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Finally Osa?

Former Euskaltel rider Aitor Osa has, as you might know by now, been cleared of any involvment in the infamous Operacion Puerto. That means that he`s now free to join any team he wants, and I think Euskaltel should jump at the chance of signing such a classy rider. Aitor rode for Euskaltel back in the good, old days, from `94 to `96. Since then he`s been with Banesto/Illes Balears and Liberty Seguros. The now 33-year-old climber has racked up several brilliant results through the years, like the overall win in the Vuelta al País Vasco and the climber`s jersey in the Vuelta a España. He would be a great addition to any team, and is just what Euskaltel need right now. Euskaltel sorely need another stage-racer, and Aitor certainly fits the bill.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Antton and Andoni out of Suisse

Euskaltel`s Tour de Suisse misery continued today as Andoni Aranaga and Antton Luengo both called it quits today. Andoni has been riding through pain for two days now, as he crashed badly on the first stage, so I no doubt understand his decision. But why Antton abandoned, I don`t know. I`ll tell you once I find out, though. The stage itself didn`t go too well for Euskaltel either, as Jon Bru was the best placed rider in a distant 43rd position. There`s not much more to tell really, so I`ll just bring you the results:

  • 43rd, Jon Bru, 7:11
  • 69th, Iván Velasco, 11:41
  • 83rd, Ibán Velasco, 15:34
  • 115th, Juanjo Oroz, 20:27
  • 152nd, Beñat Albizuri, 24:25

Monday, June 18, 2007

Jon Bru riding strongly in Switzerland

Euskaltel had yet another rather dismal day in the Tour de Suisse. Today`s third stage saw no Euskaltel rider in the break, nor in the fight for the best stage-placings. Though, Jon Bru did well to come in with the second group, just 21 seconds adrift. Jon`s group contained big-name riders as Carlos Sastre, José Ivan Gutierrez, Stijn Devolder, Vladimir Gusev and Giuseppe Guerini, so it was no mean feat from Jon. He`ll for sure look to get in some important breaks as the race unfolds. Aside from Jon`s strong ride, there`s little to report. I`m just going to give you the results I think:
  • 37th, Jon Bru, 0:21
  • 72nd, Iván Velasco, 3:10
  • 96th, Juanjo Oroz, 7:32
  • 104th, Ibán Mayoz, s.t
  • 157th, Andoni Aranaga, 29:03
  • 159th, Beñat Albizuri, s.t
  • 160th, Antton Luengo, 29:55

Though, I want to remind you that Andoni is riding through terrible pain in Switzerland at the moment, as he crashed badly yesterday. So too did Juanjo, but the fall has not hampered his racing. But, riding through the pain is what it`s all about at Euskaltel at the moment. Aupa Andoni!

Poll results: Iban in the Tour

Iban will enjoy a good Tour de France this year if you readers are right. The poll "Iban in the Tour" had five options, and out of the five, "Top-10 and stage" got the most votes with 37 %. Closely followed "Stage-win" with 35 %, and "Top-10 overall" and "More than one stage-win" got 7 and 5 % of the votes respectively. Though, 16 % of you out there think Iban`s Tour will be a "Total failure", as I had put it. It`s perhaps no big surprise that some of you have lost faith in him when it comes to the Tour, but, I promise you, he`ll deliver this year. Aupa Iban!

Aitor sick

Aitor Galdos, who was supposed to lead Euskaltel in the Tour de Suisse in search of good stage results, had to abandon yesterday because of sickness. Aitor vomited several times leading up to yesterday`s stage, and even though he did his best to complete the stage, he had no chance, and threw in the towel. Aitor was also suffering from fever and had to ride on an empty stomach, as all the food he ate came straight back out again. As Jon Odriozola pointed out, Euskaltel`s sports director in Switzerland, it was a "pity" that he had to abandon, as he was looking to impress the chiefs enough to secure a Tour de France berth.

Haimar: "I`m feeling good"

DEIA spoke to a pleased Haimar Zubeldia yesterday. Here`s excerpts from the interview I translated myself, as I figured you folks would find it an interesting read:
  • DEIA: How has this week in the Dauphiné been for you?
  • Haimar: It`s been a good week. I`ve been feeling good, though mainly in the mountains. But, in the stage to Valloire, which included the ascents of the Croix du Fer and the Télégraphe, I wasn`t as good as I had hoped.
  • DEIA: Does that worry you?
  • Haimar: No, not at all. I`ve still got three weeks left until the Tour, and I`ve got a big improvement margin. I`ve been quite good in the mountains, though, I was far behind the best in the ITT. We made an important test in the crono in the Dauphiné, and we have to consider the fact that we were way behind the best ones and that we had expected better results. All that I`ve improved in the mountains I`ve lost in the race against the clock. We`we tried to work on it, and we even went to a wind-tunnel. But, unfortunately, the work hasn`t paid off yet. I`m still not feeling good in the ITTs. In the crono in the Dauphiné which Vinokourov won, I finished happy and I felt good. But then I saw my time and I realised that my time wasn`t something to brag about. I don`t know how I`ll do in the Tour, but I`ll work really hard in the weeks that are left.
  • DEIA: Do you think that the mountains will be more deciding that the ITTs in a Tour de France we`re expecting to be hard this year?
  • Haimar: Both are important. If you hope to do well on GC in the Tour, you can`t afford the luxury of relaxing and loosing a lot of time in the time trials. It`s necessary to be consistent. But, yes, one bad day in the mountains and it can all be over for you.
  • DEIA: You`ve raced less than other season before the Tour this year. Was it planned?
  • Haimar: Yes, we`ve been taking it a bit more easy this year, hoping to find the form little by little. We`ve done so because, even though the Tour de France is important, the season doesn`t end there. We know that as a team we must also be going strong in September, for the Vuelta a España.
  • DEIA: What are you hopes and ambitions for the Tour?
  • Haimar: Like every year, it`s important for the team to have one rider in the top 10 and to win a stage.
  • DEIA: Just with you?
  • Haimar: No, not at all. I can be among the ten best ones, but we`ve also got Landaluze, Astarloza and Antón to look for stage wins. Those three were all riding strongly in the Dauphiné, and I`m sure that the rest of the riders who are going to the Tour will be just as strong, even though they`ve got less experience.
  • DEIA: It`s the first time for you in the Tour without Iban Mayo by your side. Are you feeling more pressure than other years because of that?
  • Haimar: When we had Iban, I didn`t feel that much pressure as Iban got most of it. But that doesn`t bother me.
  • DEIA: Everyone is saying that Vinokourov is the man to beat in the Tour this year. Is he your favourite as well?
  • Haimar: After what I saw of him in the Dauphiné, yes. He tested his form a couple of times and got away with to wins. And, when he wanted to take it a bit more easy, he just dropped back when he was sure his companions were OK.

I`m of the opinion that Haimar can rediscover his form of 2003, when he and Iban rocked the Alps and the Pyrenees. I thing something like a 7th place should be within his reach. Aupa Haimar!

Euskaltel bad in Suisse

Euskaltel had a day to forget in the Tour de Suisse today. On a mainly flat stage second stage, which ended in a predicted bunch-sprint, only 3 Euskaltel riders came in with the main pack. But, even worse, Tour-hopeful and designated sprinter Aitor Galdos had to drop out today . I don`t know why, but I`m afraid that means he won`t make the Tour team, as the Tour de Suisse was probably his last chance to impress Messrs Galdeano and Madariaga. Anyway, here`s how the remaining seven placed:
  • 20th, Ibán Mayoz, 0:00
  • 70th, Jon Bru, s.t
  • 74th, Iván Velasco, s.t
  • 152nd, Beñat Albizuri, 4:00
  • 153rd, Antton Luengo, 4:00
  • 163rd, Juanjo Oroz, 6:18
  • 165th, Andoni Aranaga, 20:05

A mass pile-up occured inside the last km, and whether that`s the reason so many riders came in many minutes back, I don`t know. I don`t know if Euskaltel riders hit the deck or got injured either, but more on that later.

Mikel finishes Dauphiné 7th overall

The Dauphiné Libéré came to an end today, with Mikel Astarloza securing his 7th place overall. The stage itself did not result in any brilliant stage-placings, as Mikel was the best placed rider in 20th, closely followed by Haimar in 23rd and Igor in 28th. The stage did not turn out to be what I had hoped, as my expectations for the three aforementioned riders were high. And it seemed they had high expectations themselves. As Euskaltel didn`t have a man in the break, even though Rubén Pérez tried early on, they had to chase all day. They did so to great effect, as Gorka Verdugo and Iñigo almost singel-handedly neutralized the break with full control just at the start of the last, big climb. On the early slopes of the 1st cat. climb, Mikel and Haimar were at the very front. Though, they soon dropped backwards. Igor was no where to be seen, as he went right out the back of the leading group once the going got tough. But, still, they all rode heroically and got honourable placings. As I said, Mikel got an amazing 7th overall, something which is a good sign three weeks prior to the Tour. Haimar finished in 19th, something which also bodes well for his Tour plans. Igor finished back in 37th, and that in turn means Euskaltel got a nice 3rd in the team rankings. First, complete stage results:
  • 20th, Mikel Astarloza, 1:39
  • 23rd, Haimar Zubeldia, 1:39
  • 28th, Igor Antón, 2:11
  • 68th, Iñigo Landaluze, 11:10
  • 81st, Gorka Verdugo, 11:10
  • 112th, Rubén Pérez, 23:45
  • 113th, Unai Uribarri, s.t
  • 114th, Jorge Azanza, s.t

On GC, they placed:

  • 7th, Mikel Astarloza, 5:00
  • 19th, Haimar Zubeldia, 8:10
  • 37th, Igor Antón, 24:58
  • 55th, Gorka Verdugo, 37:04
  • 58th, Iñigo Landaluze, 39:21
  • 74th, Rubén Pérez, 54:43
  • 102nd, Unai Uribarri, 1:24:52
  • 109th, Jorge Azanza, 1:32:03

As Jorge finished 109th out of 114th, I`m afraid he can say adios to the Tour team now. But, luckily for him, he`s still young, so the time for this talented 24-year-old will no doubt come...

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Mikel 6th in Dauphiné; 7th overall

Mikel Astarloza continues to show what a quality rider he is. Today, after infiltrating in the break of the day, and being virtuall leader for the most of the stage, he finished 6th, meaning he`s now 7th overall going into the last stage. A break of 11 got clear quite early in the stage, and though the break split up in several pieces, most of them arrived aheah of the "pack". On this occasion, the "pack" was Moreau. I sadly didn`t get to see the stage, but from what I`ve heard, Mikel attacked several times up the Télégraphe, but due to his good overall placing going in to the stage (18th), Astana put the pressure on back in the peloton and upped the pace. Sadly, Mikel spent his forces badly, and couldn`t keep up when Iglinsky, Di Grégorio, Fédrigo and Botcharov attacked. But he still fought on admirably to get 6th today, something which in turns mean he`s now a brilliant 7th overall. On the down side for Euskaltel today was the performances of Igor and Haimar. Haimar dropped from 10th to 18th overall, coming home more than 6 minutes adrift. Igor was closer to the leaders, but still lost 4:13 to Iglinsky, who won solo. There`s one more stage to go in this year`s Dauphiné, and I expect to see Euskaltel on the attack once more. They`ve had a terrific Dauphiné so far, and they surely deserve a stage-win for their efforts. Aupa Euskaltel!
  • 6th, Mikel Astarloza, 2:16
  • 20th, Igor Antón, 4:13
  • 27th, Haimar Zubeldia, 6:30
  • 59th, Rubén Pérez, 16:55
  • 64th, Iñigo Landaluze, s.t
  • 66th, Gorka Verdugo, s.t
  • 70th, Unai Uribarri, 20:57
  • 84th, Jorge Azanza, 27:09

Euskaltel off the pace in Suisse opener

Euskaltel was as usual way off the pace in a prologue. This time the prologue kick-started the Tour de Suisse, a prestigious Pro Tour stage-race. Best of the Euskaltel riders was Andoni Aranaga, who came in a respectable 55th, while Juanjo Oroz in 74th place was also an okay result. Not much more to say really, I only want to say that miracles do happen sometimes, so keep the faith. Perhaps one day an Euskaltel rider will win an ITT/prologue. Or not... Anyway, complete stage results:

  • 55th, Andoni Aranaga, 0:19

  • 74th, Juanjo Oroz, 0:21

  • 116th, Iban Mayoz, 0:27

  • 124th, Beñat Albizuri, 0:28

  • 148th, Iván Velasco, 0:32

  • 151st, Aitor Galdos, 0:32

  • 156th, Jon Bru, 0:33

  • 164th, Antton Luengo, 0:38

Friday, June 15, 2007

Rubén 11th in Dauphiné

Rubén Pérez was once again in the thick of the action in the Dauphiné Libéré. On today`s 5th stage, a 195 km trek destined for a successful break, Rubén placed 11th, after being part of a huge break that got away early. The 20+ group split in two with some 30 km to go and, unfortunately, Rubén ended up in the wrong part. But, still, 11th is good. After all, this is a Pro Tour race. With his 17th, 12th and 11th places so far in the Dauphiné, Rubén has no doubt justified his place on the Tour team. He seems to be in awesome form at the moment.

When it comes to the rest of the squad today, Haimar, Mikel, Gorka Verdugo and Iñigo came in with the main peloton 3:27 adrift. Though, a notable absentee was Igor Antón. Igor came home a massive 18:09 back. Why? I don`t know, but something tells me he`s saving his energy for tomorrow`s queen-stage. Watch out for him then... Complete results:
  • 11th, Rubén Pérez, 1:08
  • 38th, Haimar Zubeldia, 3:27
  • 39th, Mikel Astarloza, s.t
  • 56th, Iñigo Landaluze, s.t
  • 63rd, Gorka Verdugo, s.t
  • 98th, Jorge Azanza, 10:31
  • 116th, Igor Antón, 18:09
  • 123rd, Unai Uribarri, s.t

Saunier Duval angry

Saunier Duval is not happy with two of their riders being suspected of doping. The Saunier Duval management has stated their disgust regarding newspapers making big headlines of alleged doping when it comes to Piepoli and our own Iban. Iban has, as you all know, been cleared without any problems whatsoever, but Piepoli is still under "investigation". Saunier Duval released an official statement regarding the matter, and here it is in full version:

With regards the indiscreet remarks which have appeared in recent hours in some media sources, and after having received confirmation from the UCI, SAUNIER DUVAL-PRODIR bitterly denies the rumour that two of its riders were involved in a case of doping during the recent Giro d´Italia.In the case of Iban Mayo, his situation has already been cleared up and his case will shortly be closed. As for Piepoli, his non-negative result relates to Salbutamol, a substance found in medicines commonly used by those suffering from respiratory problems, in most cases provoked by allergies. In order to be able to use these medicines during the competitions, Piepoli, along with other professional cyclists, holds a certificate approved by the Medical Commission of the UCI. The concentration above the permitted limit found in his urine is still being analysed in a Barcelona laboratory, where the causes of this result should be established, taking into account a series of parameters among which his weight of 54 kilograms will be considered.We are confidently awaiting the official results of these analyses but, at the present moment, any conclusion would be groundless. We remind the public that prior cases of non-negatives have already been found and that, following subsequent analyses and the review of reports and medical permits, the vast majority of these cases result in the rider in question being cleared of all blame. However, in these previous cases, the names of the athletes involved had never been revealed to the public at such a premature stage. For this reason, we firmly condemn and show our profound disagreement with the unfortunate leaking of these recent stories, and reserve the right to take relevant action against those who have been able to harm, through simple rumours, the image of our riders and sponsors.

I comletely agree with them, as certain newspapers are trying to make controversy and scandals all over the place, without any evidence to back them up. Because of unfounded allegations, Iban and Piepoli`s image, as well as Saunier Duval`s, has been tainted. But, I hope people don`t regard Iban as a cheater, as he most surely isn`t. You`re all allowed to have your own opinion, but he should be trusted I think.

Millar trusts Iban

Saunier Duval TT specialist, and former admitted doper, David Millar has stated that he believes that both Iban and Leonardo Pieopli are clean. Speaking on the last few day`s doping controversy, he said: "They are both non-negative. Leo has a certificate for asthma, while Iban has a testosterone history. It`s necessary to give them the benefit of the doubt. You can never be 100 % sure, and it`s always necessary to have doubts. But in my view, they deserve my trust. If I`m wrong, that would be a pity. That would ruin our friendship".

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Iban cleared

Iban has now officially been cleared of any wrong doing in relation to the "non-negative" doping test. Though I was quite confident of the outcome, you`re always bound to be nervous, so it`s no doubt a relief as well. I`m not suspicious of Iban at all, as he proved that he`s got naturally high testosterone levels years ago. This isn`t the first time this has happened to Iban either, it`s happened several times. Anyway, I`m just glad for him as well. Must have been awful for him. Well, here`s the statement the UCI released earlier today:

The UCI has noted press reports about three purportedly abnormal analysis results linked to the last Giro d'Italia. While regretting the premature publication of this news item, the UCI wishes to clarify the following points.
No breach of the UCI antidoping rules was committed by the Spanish rider Iban Mayo of the Saunier Duval team. A further examination conducted by IRMS has enabled any possibility of testosterone administration to be ruled out. This further analysis was requested by the UCI following the notification by the Rome laboratory of a T/E value in excess of the norm laid down in the rules; that finding made further examinations necessary. The history of this particular case shows the vital need to await the closure of the relevant investigations before reaching conclusions.
In the other cases, the analyses requested by the UCI are still in progress

Igor 3rd and Haimar 6th on Ventoux

It was a highly pleasing day in the Dauphiné Libéré today for Euskaltel. On the fourth stage, ending ontop the legendary Mont Ventoux, Igor Antón got a brilliant 3rd place, while Haimar was also showing excellent form with a 6th place. And if that wasn`t good enough, another Euskaltel rider came in with the main contenders. Mikel Astarloza rode heroically, attacking several times, and came in 18th eventually. As a result, Euskaltel won the team ranking for the day, and lies 3rd overall in that competition. All three riders seem to be approaching Tour form, and Igor looks to be on fire. He left the poursuivants with 3 km to go to try top catch up with Moreau and Szmyd, who had gotten clear some 10 km earlier. He didn`t make it, but made up a considerable amount of time. He crossed the line in amazing 3rd position. Brilliant riding from Euskaltel. Complete stage results:

  • 3rd, Igor Antón, 1:21

  • 6th, Haimar Zubeldia, 1:56

  • 18th, Mikel Astarloza, 2:46

  • 59th, Iñigo Landaluze, 10:25

  • 61st, Gorka Verdugo, 10:25

  • 96th, Rubén Pérez, 16:43

  • 97th, Unai Uribarri, 16:43

  • 112th, Jorge Azanza, 17:19

On GC, Haimar is an excellent 8th, while Mikel is 16th. Aupa Euskaltel!

No Iban positive

Well, this whole situation about Iban and this positive test is just a complete mess. Has Iban even been tested? Has he returned a positive sample? According to "Matxin" Fernández, sports director at Saunier, the answer to these questions are both "no".

The news of three positives in the Giro broke yesterday. The Gazzetta dello Sport claimed one Spaniard and two Italians had returned positive tests. Though, why Iban is supposed to be this Spaniard no one knows. It seems that this is just a rumour. According to the Gazzetta, the Spaniard in question was caught with elevated testosterone levels. The name of the rider has not been made official, but as Iban has a certificate for high levels of testosterone, and has encountered similar problems earlier, people started to think Iban was the one. Though, this is in fact impossible, as the test that returned positive with testosterone was taken after the Monte Zoncolan stage. Iban did not do any kinds of tests after that stage. The only riders to be tested that day was Simoni and Piepoli. Iban was only tested after his stage win on the 19th stage. Further, Saunier Duval has not received any kind of notification on Iban testing positive, so everything seems to be just bullshit. So, all Iban fans, I think we can relax. When "Matxin" was asked why people mentioned Iban in this case, he said: "Because everyone knows Iban has got a certificate (for natural high testosterone levels). And, no one has said anything to us about Iban. We`ve spoken to the UCI, and they`ve said there`s no problem". I guess that sums it all up quite well...


I don`t know what`s going on right now, I`m just really lost for words... According to several sources, Iban has tested positive for "elevated testosterone levels". He allegedly tested positive during the Giro recently, but the test will likely not result in any ban or anything, as Iban has, though I must admit I`ve never heard of it before, documented to the UCI that he`s got natural high testosterone levels earlier. The UCI will comment further on the case when all the tests have been examined further. I guess as he`s already documented high levels of testosterone, this is all just a formality. But, if it`s not just a formality, I don`t know what I`m going to do.... But, I still believe this will sort itself out. Aupa Iban!

Disappointing TT

Today`s ITT in the Dauphiné Libéré did not produce the results I was hoping for. I had hoped to see Haimar and Mikel among, say, the 25 best. Haimar wasn`t too far off in 33rd, but Mikel was a worrying 42nd, while Gorka Verdugo rode well to finish 46th. Sure, there`s still time to go before the Tour, but I had hoped to see them finish higher up the rankings. Though, I`m sure tomorrow`s stage to the Mont Ventoux will tell us more about their state of form. Complete results:

  • 33rd, Haimar Zubeldia, 3:18

  • 42nd, Mikel Astarloza, 3:38

  • 46th, Gorka Verdugo, 3:43

  • 71st, Rubén Pérez, 4:52

  • 89th, Unai Uribarri, 5:25

  • 106th, Iñigo Landaluze, 5:58

  • 130th, Jorge Azanza, 7:30

  • 132nd, Igor Antón, 7:42

Tour de Suisse team

Euskaltel will field the following 8 riders for the Pro Tour stage-race Tour de Suisse starting on Saturday: Juan José Oroz, Iban Mayoz, Jon Bru, Aitor Galdos, Antton Luengo, Iván Velasco, Beñat Albizuri and Andoni Aranaga. Especially Aitor and Juanjo will be looking to impress, as they`re both candidates for the Tour de France team. More on the Tour de Suisse later.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Rubén 12th on stage 2 of Dauphiné

Rubén Pérez was once again Euskaltel`s best placed rider in the Dauphiné today. Yesterday, he came in 17th in a mass-sprint, while he was 12th today, coming home 33 seconds behind breakaway winner Moreau and runner-up Redondo. On this slightly hilly day of racing, the peloton was made up of only 93 riders. All Euskaltel riders came in with this group of riders, except for Jorge Azanza, who`s still finding his feet after returning from injury, and Unai Uribarri. Jorge came in a distant 139th, 14:42 down, while Unai was 106th at 8:56. Tomorrow will surely seperate the contenders from the pretenders and also-rans, as each rider will face a 42 km ITT. As usual when it comes to ITTs, I haven`t got too big expectations. But, I do hope and think Mikel and Haimar will ride well, and I`m looking forward to see Igor riding it. Has he improved his TTing? We`ll see...

Amets makes it seven

Amets Txurruka will ride the Tour de France this year. The young climbing prodigy will make his debut in the biggest race on the planet in his first season with Euskaltel, and that means there are now only two places left on the 9-man team. The six others that will ride the Tour are Haimar, Mikel Astarloza, Iñigo Landaluze, Igor Antón, Rubén Pérez and Gorka Verdugo. The two vacant places will go to Iñaki Isasi, Aitor Galdos, Jorge Azanza or Juanjo Oroz. Jorge is now riding the Dauphiné, and will have to prove his worth if he is to be included. The same goes for the three others who will be riding the Tour de Suisse, starting on Sunday. My bet is on Aitor and Iñaki to make it.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Rubén 17th in Dauphiné

Rubén Pérez, who will make his debut in the Tour de France this year, came in 17th on the first regular stage of the Dauphiné Libéré. The stage was tailor-made for the sprinters, so it all came down to a mad dash to the line. Heinrich Haussler of Gerolsteiner took the win, with Rubén coming home 17th. Rubén was very active inside the last kilometres, trying to find the perfect position, and eventually got the wheel of Paco Wrolich. Though, Rubén faded a bit towards the end and gave up. But, still, no bad achievement! The rest of the team finished comfortably inside the pack.

Amets OK

Amets Txurruka, who crashed badly in the first stage of the Euskal Bizikleta and abandoned the next day, has not sustained any serious injuries. Amets hurt his hip badly, and couldn`t get up the stairs in his home the next day. But, luckily, he`s feeling much better already, and will probably train tomorrow. His fall and subsequent "injury" will have no effect on his Tour plans, if he is selected for the team that is.

Matxin: "I want Iban to enjoy himself"

Speaking to DEIA yesterday, Joxean "Matxin" Fernández, sports director at Saunier, had this to say about Iban and the Tour: "We wanted Iban to ride the Tour de Suisse initially, but he would rather go back home to do specific training in the mountains and to lose some weight, so that he could arrive in France in good shape. He will arrive with belief and confidence we think, but he wants to do the Tour without any concrete objectives and without any pressure. We`ll not demand anything of him. Marchante will be the leader, while all I hope of Iban is that he`ll enjoy himself".

Picture perfect

There`s not much to report on Iban these days, as he`s at home resting and training. Iban will compete again at the Spanish Championships. Though, here are some photos you might not have seen before. And, by the way, on the second picture, you can see the now-famous Sopela on the left side holding up Iban. Iban`s fan club at the first pic.


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