Friday, October 31, 2008

Aketza aiming high

Aketza Peña is, as previously reported, putting all his energy and focus into cyclo-cross this winter. Speaking to DEIA, he revealed his ambitions: "I haven't got any special objectives. I'll take it day by day, race by race. We'll see what happens. Though, I'd love to do well in the Campeonato de Euskadi and in the Spanish Championships. In addition, it would be a dream to ride in Igorre (Ibán's birth-place and the home of a World Cup cyclo-cross race). That's a top-level event and so close to home. The race in Asteasu is also attractive." All in all he'll take part in some 30 races, among them the Spiuk de Euskadi, the Copa Cántabra, the Copa de España,and of course the Campeonato de España. Asked about potentially taking part in the World Championships, Aketza pleaded for patience: "I need to gain experience first. There is quality opposition every Sunday. I haven't thought of the possibility of taking part in the Worlds but, if that was to happen, it would be a big bonus. Though, it's too early to talk about it". Aketza will likely come up against another former Euskaltel rider this year, Beñat Albizuri.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Galdeano educating

First things first: my apologies for failing to update the blog yesterday. I was simply too disgusted to write anything after watching Arsenal last night. I was so gutted all I wanted to do was to dig a hole and jump into it. That hole ended up being my bed, but, anyway, nothing was written. I'll put that right now.

Igor González de Galdeano will, from tomorrow off 'till the 8th of Novembre, take part in an education program for coaches. The Curso nacional de entrenadores, as it's called, will take place in Granada and will also see Euskaltel riders Mikel Astarloza and Andoni Lafuente take part. Galdeano has taken on the role of sports director for the coming season, and this program will make him able to do just that.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Salvador jumps ships

Euskaltel and Orbea doctor Eduardo Salvador González was today unveiled as Caisse d'Epargne's new team doctor. Salvador cut short his stay with the team this year, and is now taking on a job with one of Euskaltel's biggest rivals. Why he chose to leave his post at Euskaltel I don't know, maybe he was just looking for a new challenge.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Quote of the day

Miguel Madariaga puts the record straight (2004): "Euskaltel-Euskadi is much more than a sports team, it's an identity".

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Samu: "2009 Tour will be tough"

Like almost every other rider, Samu has given a rather dull assessment of the 2009 Tour de France parcours. The words "hard" and "difficult" are usually the most frequently used when riders are to describe the Tour, and Samu is no exception. Here's what he had to say: "ASO want to create passion and to put on a show, because the leader's jersey can change shoulders from day to day. It looks like a very hard Tour to me, and the last week will be for the stage-race specialists because of the tough Alps and the Mont Ventoux." He further stated that he hadn't planned next season yet, because it had been impossible due to all his post-Olympic engagements. Right now he just wanted to "rest and disconnect".

Friday, October 24, 2008

Euskaltel ready for Fiesta

No, not a party, the Fiesta de la Bici. Well, it's sort of a party. Hundreds of kids get to ride alongside their heroes in a 41,2-kilometre road race or in a 12,2-kilometre mountain bike race. The smallest kids will get to ride 7 kilometres. Most of the Euskaltel, Orbea and Naturgas Energía riders will be present, as well as Alberto Contador. Samu will also draw crowds to the event in Derio. The celebration will take place this coming Sunday.

No Giro in 2009 for Euskaltel

According to trustworthy Basque daily el Diario Vasco, the team will not compete in next year's Giro d'Italia. The reduction in riders from 26 to 22 will also mean a reduction in races. The Giro, along with the Tour Down Under, the Tour de Pologne, and of course the cancelled Deutschland Tour, will not not see Euskaltel at the start-line. Thank God is all I'm going to say. It was, really, about time the Giro got off the team's calendar.

Euskaltel ready

Euskaltel Euskadi will start next season with 22 riders. That's a fact, as the team's official website decleared yesterday. That effectively means that no more riders will be forced to head for the exit doors, but sadly it means that no one, except for Urtasun and Nieve of course, will be welcomed in to the fold. I'd been hoping that Gaztañaga, Castroviejo, Herrero, perhaps Izagirre and Intxausti, could make the move to join the team, but apparently they won't. I really can't see why guys like Castroviejo and Gorka Izagirre aren't joining, but I guess Galdeano & co. know what they're doing.

Iñigo inks new deal

Iñigo has finally put pen to paper on a new deal with the team. The negotiations had been dragging on for quite a while, but there were never any real fears that he'd leave the team. His new contract is only for a year though, but hopefully he'll stay beyond that as well.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Holding out for Guerrero

Jon Bru and Dioni Galparsoro have still not given up hope on finding a team for the 2009 season. Both riders came over from Kaiku two years ago, but now they're both left on the street after their deals with the team expired. They're holding out for Óscar Guerrero, their famous amiable sports director at Kaiku, to put together a team in time for next year. "He treated me well", Dioni said. "I know he's trying to put together a team, and if he's successful I'll be happy. But I haven't talked about it with him yet. I've been occupied by other things, and I have a representative who'll let me know if something happens." "Óscar is trying to put together something", Jon said, "but I don't know a lot about it. I'm hoping though. I spoke to my old team, Pecol, which is now called Liberty, but they had no place for me in the team." Guerrero has done the impossible earlier, so I'm hoping he can pull it off once again.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Quote of the day

Jesus Losa (Euskaltel's infamous team doctor up until 2004): "Ibán Mayo is not a pure climber". Good one, Jesus, good one.

Lander lands Etxe-Ondo job

Lander Aperribay has announced he's retired from the sport all together after his two-year stay with the team wasn't extended this year. The 26-year-old showed glimpses of what he was worth during his stay, but generally struggled to make a name for himself in the bigger races. He's now working in the commercial department of Euskaltel's top-end clothing apparel-supplier Etxe-Ondo, while also holding spinning-classes at two different gyms. Even though his stay at Euskaltel was rather short, he holds no grudges towards the team. "For me it was a fulfilment of a dream (to ride in Euskaltel's colours)," he said. "There were good and bad times, but generally it was good. My handicap was my age. I've always been behind schedule and that was a disadvantage. Being 26 or 22 in your second year as a pro is not the same thing. If you're 22 you're more relaxed. At 26 it's time to perform. I improved every year, but I had to improve faster if I was to stand a chance." He also dismissed talks of a comeback: "I don't want to start riding again. I've done my best. I've always wanted to improve, but the results simply didn't. I'll start working at Etxe-Ondo as of January the 1st. I'll ride my bike when I want to and when it doesn't rain. I'll be able to do all the things I couldn't do the last 15 years. Though, cycling was my hobby and it will always stay that way". Well said.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Beñat not happy

Beñat Albizuri did not get his stay with Euskaltel extended this year and is forced to look for another job. He isn't happy; rather the contrary. Speaking to GARA he said: "I'm grateful for the opportunity they (Euskaltel) gave me to become a professional rider. But once I joined the team they never valued my contribution. I've been a brave rider, I've done my best for the team, I've gotten into many breaks, I've helped Koldo out in the sprints. But still they haven't appreciated my work. Not every cyclist can win, but from the first to the last day I've done the dirty work, and I think I've done it well." Self-pitty isn't always beautiful, is it? But then again I kind of agree with him, a bit at least. I for one rated Beñat. I think he did well leading out Koldo, and he was good at getting into breaks. But then he was never going to win many races either, so I wasn't overly surprised when he didn't get an extension to his existing contract. As for the future, he's now looking to hit the big-time in cyclo-cross. "I've always wanted to do it (competing in the discipline). I'm a rider with good technique and spark, and people told me many years ago that I could do well in 'cross. Now I have the time and the opportunity, so I'll do my best. I started training this week, and I hope to get into good shape soon. I'm very motivated, and I know that now it's up to me. There won't be a team to stop me. My representative is looking for a team, but it's hard."

Odriozola: "I'd love to return"

In a surprising turn of events, newly-departed sports director Jon Odriozola has stated he'd love to one day come back to the team. Jon and Euskaltel parted ways after two years due to contractual disagreements. Both parties wanted to extend the cooperation, but it wasn't to be. "First I want to say that it's been two very positive years for me. I've learned a lot, I've reached my personal goals, the team have done well, and the team have obtained the personality and identity I wanted it to. As a Basque I'd love to stay on with the team, a team I completely identify myself with. It's been an honour. It's the ultimate dream for every Basque sports director to be able to direct his local team. I'd love to return one day. But sadly we couldn't reach an agreement. I'd like to keep the bussinesside of the negotiations secret". Odriozola also had praise for the fans: "I feel we have the best fans in the world. I've experienced the love of our fans, and that love can't be measure in money or anything else. It's been an enormous satisfaction. But I've ended up on the loosing side. I've left my team and got no job. It's been hard", he admitted. "Cycling is not a job. It's a passion, it's my life." Asked whether he would one day like to come back, he said: "Everything can happen in this world." I don't know what to make of this whole situation. Both Euskaltel and Jon wanted to extend the stay, but somehow it didn't work out. Reminds me of the Garate situation...

Antton thankful

Antton Luengo, the promising climber who put an end to his career at the tender age of 27 this summer, spoke to GARA yesterday about his Euskaltel experience. In the short interview he cuts a likeable figure and speaks of his gratefulness towards the team. "I'm very thankful. I've been with the team all my life and I've got no complaints. They were very understanding and helpful when it comes to my father's desease last winter. He had only five months left and I wanted to be alongside him. The team gave me the possibility to do that, and that's something I'm very grateful for. If you're a month off the bike it's hard to come back. I was off it for five months, without racing or training, so it was no point in continuing. I asked the team to terminate the contract because it was no use, I didn't reach the form I desired. There were moments when I thought I could come back, but I didn't make it. To be an Euskaltel rider was my lifelong dream. I've been with Euskaltel since I was a little boy, back in 1991. It seemed hard to me at the time to become a professional with the team, so the good aspects of cycling, not the bad, will stay with me". He didn't say what he's up to now, but no matter what it is I wish him the very best. He never got to fulfil his potential in cycling, so hopefully he can manage to do that in his new profession.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Samu happy to stay

Despite what the picture might indicate, he is. Prior to today's race he officially signed his new contract with the team, and afterwards spoke of his contentment: "The negotiations went well, so I'm pleased and satisfied. This has always been my team and, if I'm to be honest, I can't imagine myself in another team's jersey. It's an enormous pleasure for me to be able to stay on with this team. I feel valued, and the confidence Miguel (Madariaga) and Igor (González de Galdeano) have in me makes me happy. Confidence is vital. Now I'm already thinking of the new season and new objectives."

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Samu succumbs in Lombardia

Samu did his very best to end the season on a high today, but it just wasn't enough. Cunego went on to win the Giro di Lombardia, as has become his habit, with Samu eventually coming in 27th. But he wasn't as far off as it may sound. With Cunego having gone clear on the penultimate climb together with Failli and Horner, Samu sensed the danger and, with an outrageous decent, caught the trio in front. Cunego then went for broke right afterwards, and Samu was, for one reason or another, left to do the chasing mostly by himself. It proved to be too much for Samu who faded and came in alongside Evans and Rodríguez, among others. Iván crossed the line in 42nd place, Alán in 50th and Iñigo in 51st. The rest of the guys abandoned along the way, and are now, surely, looking forward to taking some time off the bike. Some well deserved time off the bike that is.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Gaztañaga looking for a team

Mikel Gaztañaga has not been offered a new contract with Agritubel and is therefore looking for a team for next year. Messrs. Galdeano and Madariaga, this is it. He's 28, he's fast, he's Basque, he can win races. This is what the team needs. Pablo Urtasun is a very important reinforcement no doubt. Together with Koldo, Iñaki and Aitor Galdos, he'll be terrific. Throw Gaztañaga in there and the team is suddenly a force to be reckoned with in the sprints. They will, for the first time, be able to make their own train in the sprints. Please pounce on this opportunity Euskaltel. Of course the money is a big factor. I'm afraid they simply can't afford him, as keeping Samu surely cost them a lot of money. But, if there's any money left, give it to Mikel. He's worth it.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Alán 13th in Piemonte

The Giro del Piemonte eventually came down to the anticipated mass-sprint. The team didn't bring Koldo, Aitor Galdos or Iñaki, and therefore didn't have any real candidates for the top spots. Alán did well though to claim 13th. Not bad. Iñigo and Javier also did well by attacking from 20 kilometres out. None of them had luck on their side, unfortunately, as they were both reeled back in. Samu had to pull out due to annoyances in his right knee. Needn't worry though, the team's website says he's in perfectas condiciones for Sunday's big showdown. Sounds good.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Samu stays

According to the man himself, Samu will stay with the team at least until the end of 2010. Nothing has been signed as of yet, but then his signature is all that's missing he says. The guys in charge at Euskaltel were successful in bringing in additional money from the sponsors, additional money Samu was promised if he were to win the Olympics, something he of course did. Great news as Samu is vital to the team, especially so now as Haimar's left for what he thinks is the greenest grass over at Astana. Man he'll regret that decision one day... Anyway, Samu stays. That's what's important right now.

Jon's career on hold

If Jon hasn't found a new employer come the end of the month, he'll leave the bike in the garage for good. That's the fact. Jon hasn't been offered an extension to his contract, so as of now he's without a team. I'd be sad to see him retire, as he's never really been able to fulfil his undoubted potential. But considering the current climate in professional cycling, I think it'll be hard for him to get a contract with a pro team.

Javier prolongs

Javier Aramendía recently decided to extend his stay with the team. The neo-pro has signed an extension to his existing contract, meaning he'll stay with the team until at least the end of the 2010 season. Javier has, despite only being 21, showed glimpses of what he's capable of this season, most notably in the Tour Down Under. I've always rated Javier, so this is good news for all Euskaltel fans. Javier had this to say after putting pen to paper on an improved deal: "I'm very pleased with our agreement. Miguel (Madariaga) has told me he believes in me, and that support is an important incentive to keep working hard. I feel comfortable in this team, so naturally I'm very happy with the prolongation".

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Poll results: Iban to race at all this year?

Well of course he isn't, and this poll has been dragging on for way too long. Thought it was high time to change question. And, by the way, 72% of you got it right. Iban didn't enter one single competition this year. And he probably never will either....

Line-ups revealed

Two races to go and a rather lacklustre 2008 season will come to a close for Euskaltel. First up is the Italian one-day semi-classic Giro del Piemonte on Thursday, followed by one of professional cycling's biggest races; the Giro di Lombardia. Euskaltel will field the same 8 riders in both races and Samu will of course lead the charge. He'll be accompanied by Iñigo, Javier, Aitor H, Markel, Iván, Josu and Alán. Would be great to end the season on a high as, except for Samu's Olympic heroics, there hasn't been too much to celebrate. Aupa!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Samu 6th in Tour?

We all know Samu finished 7th in this year's Tour. But the chances are that he'll now be elevated to 6th place due to Köhl's positive tests for CERA. Of course, it comes as no surprise that Köhl tested positive. Everyone with a bit of insight into professional cycling knew Köhl wasn't clean when he suddenly climbed with the very best of what the pro peloton had to offer in July. He is a talented climber though, make no mistake about it, but his showing was, as with many other climbers in the race, far too good be believed. Haimar experienced something similar in 2006 when he went from 9th to 8th after Landis was exposed. I don't think Samu would care all that much, but I thought it was worth writing about it. And, if the cheats continue to get caught at this rate, lord knows where Samu will eventually end up overall.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

No success in Tours

Euskaltel failed to light up today's one-day classic Paris-Tours. It was predictable though, as Koldo, the team's bet for the win, had to pull out two days in advance due to tendonitis. None got into the break, and no one went on the attack. But it wasn't that bad. I was actually pleasantly surprised to see Samu covered by all his team-mates at the head of the pack for large portions of the race. The team seemed focused and determined, but the lack of climbs in the route put paid to the team's dreams. Iván impressed by staying close to Samu 'til 5 kilometres were left to race, but Samu never really got the opportunity to get away. He rolled in with the main group in 28th place, while the rest of the guys came in further back. Not a bad display, but not a very good one either. Two races to go now for the team, and both of them should suit Samu to perfection.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Koldo pulls out, Samu steps in

Koldo has been forced to pull out of tomorrow's Paris-Tours due to tendinitis in his left knee. That's a big blow to Euskaltel's hopes of getting something out of the race. Samu has been forced to step in, and will no doubt be visible on the climbs towards the end of the race. The rest of the team is made up of Iñigo, Javier, Alán, Iván, Markel, Aitor H and Josu. Samu's stated his in good shape, so I'll keep my fingers crossed for our Olympic champion. My God it feels good to say our Olympic champion...

Friday, October 10, 2008

Iñaki prolongs

Iñaki has decided to extend his stay with the team, Basque newspapers are reporting this morning. The length of his new deal wasn't mentioned, but I don't think a two-year deal is unrealistic, after all he's still just 31. Great to see him stay. He's one of the most experienced riders on the team and he's still quite fast mind you.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Urtasun signs on

Pablo Urtasun has today put pen to paper on a one-year deal with the team. The punchy rider, who's got 4 wins to his name, will ride the 2009 season in the orange colours of the team, and will act as Koldo's confidant and last lead-out man in the sprints. "This is a big step in my sporting life (joining Euskaltel)", he said moments after penning the deal. "I've been in Portugal for two years now, but now I return to ride for my local team. I talked to Madariaga and Galdeano about my position in the team and what my main objectives would be, and I'm really pleased. I'll be helping Koldo out in the sprints. I've acted as a lead-out man in other teams, and I can't wait to get going. All that remains now is for me to repay Madariaga's confidence in me". Madariaga himself had this to say: "We've signed a type of rider that will be to great help for Koldo. He's fast and he knows how and where to position himself in a sprint. Koldo is getting better and better, and the arrival of Urtasun will make him even better. Pablo has won four races as a pro, and that's really important as it means he knows how to win a race. We think that this signing will remarkably reinforce the team facing the 2009 season." I totally agree, great signing. I've been expecting him to join the team for some time now and, at 28, he's got the years on his side.

Looking for a sprinter

Igor González de Galdeano is, according to and other reliable sources, looking for a rider to act as lead-out man for Koldo. Mikel Nieve is the only new recruit to the team so far, but another one might be on his way if Galdeano finds his man. There are not many Basque sprinters around, so Mikel Gaztañaga springs to mind immediately of course. I've always thought of him as a good rider, and he would, together with Koldo and Aitor Galdos, form an enviable trio.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008


As most of you know by now, the AFLD is currently retesting inconclusive tests stemming from the Tour this summer. Currently Ricco', Piepoli and Schumacher have been caught with their pants down. Prudhomme says that several tests are ongoing, and that he expects at least one or two of them to come back positive. Comments like that makes everyone wonder who those guys might be. I'm no exception. F Schleck springs to mind naturally, we all know he's been up to some dodgy things the last few years. Ah, yes, of course, I totally forgot, he paid 7000 euros for advice on his training, not doping. That's the way it is I guess, everyone pays that kind of money to just talk with a guy. Never mind he's a gyneocologist. Sorry Fränck, I'm not buying it. I'm not buying it at all... But okay, Schleck aside. Of course, I really hope they get Valverde, Evans and those guys, but I don't think they will. I don't think any Euskaltel riders will be caught either, but you never know. There's no denying that doping has been rife at Euskaltel, just like at any other team the last decade, so I can't say I'm completely relaxed. Though, there are more and more clean riders on Euskaltel these days, so at least there's a light in the end of the tunnel. I hear Valjavec of Ag2r has returned some suspicious doping tests, and these tests are allegedly being retested as I speak, but I'm not convinced. Every cycling-related webiste on the net come up with their own names, so it's hard to know who to trust. Yesterday I read that three CSC riders are having their blood tested for CERA, but, then again, they're purely rumours. I'd love to hear your views on this whole thing.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Samu wins criterium

Samu won the Criterium Internacional de Ciclismo de la Comunitat Valenciana on Sunday. 23 professional riders competed in the annual end-of-season race. Samu took the initiative early on by winning the points race and placing second in the elimination race, and eventually also landed the overall. After the race it was time for something special; Samu versus a Formula 2 car. Incredibly Samu only just lost out. It was a great spectacle though nonetheless.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Koldo to line up in Tours

Koldo will take the start in Sunday's French one-day classis Paris-Tours. Speculation has been rife regarding the matter, but the Diario Vasco today wrote that Euskaltel's leading sprinter will take part. I suspect that the rest of the team will look a lot like the Vendée line-up.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Koldo's view on Vendée win

"It was a hard race due to the rain and the cold, but we can go home with a glorious win. It's a great win mainly due to the work carried out by the team. It was necessary to control the race and to chase down Chavanel. Chavanel is a great rider, so Euskaltel Euskadi have done brilliantly (to chase him down). Once we caught Chavanel, Gueslin and Dumoulin tried to go clear... We reacted very fast, though, and we made sure no one got away. To win a race after such great team-work makes me very happy on the team's behalf. I felt well all day and hoped it would come down to a sprint. I'm in good form now, having just just recently come out of the Vuelta, so it was necessary to take advantage of my form and win this race. I've won five races this year, and now it's time to continue to work hard so that I can win even more races next year".

Koldo wins in Vendée

Koldo took his 5th win of the season in the Tour de Vendée today. The French one-day classic came down to the anticipated mass-sprint, a mass-sprint in which Koldo proved to be the strongest. No results are available as of now, so stay tuned for more info later this evening.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Galdeano to fill in

Euskaltel won't bring in another Sports Director to fill departing Jon Odriozola's place. In stead they'll take a man from their own ranks, namely General Secretary Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano. He will, together with Gorka Gerrikagoitia, be the main Sports Director next year, with Xavier Carbayeda, Alex Díaz and Josu Larrazabal all helping them out. Alex Díaz is currently directing the highly successful Naturgas Energia youth team, but whether he'll leave that post to help out at Euskaltel, or whether he'll stay on, I don't know.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Odriozola leaves

In a surprising turn of events, Jon Odriozola has decided to leave his post as Sports Director with the team. Jon was offered to stay on with the team some time before the Vuelta a España, a race in which he directed the team. Both parties wanted to prolong the stay, but sadly didn't manage to reach an agreement. According to Basque newspaper El Diario Vasco, Jon requested more responsibility, probably meaning to direct the team in the biggest races. Seeing as Jon directed the team in races such as the Vuelta, the Tour de Suisse, Tirreno-Adriatico and the Giro d'Italia, I can't really see the problem. Anyway, he's decided to leave the team, and is allegedly considering leaving the sport alltogether. Jon was highly thought off among the riders, but El Diario Vasco doesn't seem to hold Jon is such high regards. "Leaving the team in this way says a lot about his personality". I don't know what to make of it to be honest. Any thoughts on the matter?

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Loving Orca

I've always been in love with Orbea's bikes. Orbea are, of course, Euskaltel's bike supplier, and they've been providing cutting-edge bikes for the team for as long as I can remember. The design is nothing short of phenomenal. So too is the quality if Haimar, Mikel, Samu and Igor are to believed. Check out the four's opinion on this year's Orbea Orca here:


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