Thursday, February 07, 2008

Gorka the Great

Cycling has evolved a lot since the days of the great Eddy Merckx, Bahamontes, Coppi et cetera. Like all sports, cycling has become more of a team sport rather than a one-man show. I'm not saying Merckx and co. didn't get help from their team-mates, 'cause, believe me, they did, but I guess it's fair to say that a strong team with strong and unselfish riders is more important than ever these days in pro cycling. The domestiques, as they're called, are the forgotten, un-sung heroes who sacrifice their own ambitions and dreams for the team and it's captain. They're the captains key to success. They rarely get the praise they deserve in the media, but they're very much appreciated among the team's fans. Charly Wegelius of Liquigas has always stood out to me as something close to the ultimate domestique. Wegelius is an amazingly talented climber/puncheur who's always been loyal and dedicated towards his team, but who's rarely stood on top of the podium all by himself. Every team would want a Wegelius in their line-up, and, luckily, Euskaltel have one; Gorka Verdugo. The 29-year-old from Navarra really rose to prominence last season through some stellar performances, especially, of course, in the Tour de France. Even though his palmarès might not indicate it, this guy's talent is not to be sniffed at. Winning the prestigious Pamplona-Bayonne amateur race in succession in 2002 and 2003 is quite something. After these remarkable performances he was snapped up by Euskaltel in 2004, and has stayed there ever since. Slowly he's become a more and more integral part of the team; his participation in the last two Tours shows that. He's guaranteed a start in the Tour again in July if he avoids injury and illness, and will look to build on the very good impression he left on the race in 2007. He did exactly what the team needed him to do, and was instrumental in making the Tour 2007 one of the best in many years for Euskaltel. He's a solid all-rounder; he's a decent climber, has good recovery, is good on the flat. I really rate Gorka. I hope there are other Euskaltel fans out there who rate him as well, as he deserves it. He's not glamorous, but in sport that's not always what it's all about. Gorka is a team player. An important player in the strong team Euskaltel have become. For Gorka, that's what really matters; el equipo.


Arnout said...

Great story, agreed completely!
When I see that riders at the head of the peloton I am always asking myself why they work that hard. But that's the good thing about cycling, the teamplaying!

Bolsen3 said...

Many people don't realize that, cycling is a team-sport!

Magnus said...

Gorka's the man!


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