Sunday, November 30, 2008

Galdós 2nd in Memorial Isabel Clavero

Aitor Galdós took another second place in an off-season race. This time in the Memorial Isabel Clavero. Aitor, who by the way has the most efficient pedal stroke in the team I learned today, only got beaten by Héctor Guerra. Just so you know.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Mikel best Basque

Mikel yesterday received the "Best Basque rider in the Tour de France"-award by the Sociedad Urkamendi. The award goes to the rider who did best on GC, which this year turned out to be Mikel with his slightly disappointing 16th place. Former Euskaltel rider Haimar Zubeldia has won the prize four times in his career, while this was Mikel's first time. Team-mates Gorka and Egoi were among the celebrities attending the celebration.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Euskaltel still in Pro Tour

Euskaltel yesterday got their Pro Tour license renewed by the UCI. I guess that's good news, don't you think?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Duo to Logroño

Alán and Juanjo will take part in the I Jornadas sobre Ciclismo Profesional hosted by the Logroñes Cycling Club tomorrow evening. Just so you know.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Pro Tour license up for consideration

Euskaltel have once again applied for a Pro Tour license for the next two years. Good news. The UCI today released a statement which read: "A decision is still pending on applications submitted by the teams Euskaltel-Euskadi (ESP) and BBox Bouygues Telecom (FRA). These applications will be considered at a later date." No need to panic as of yet then.

Training camp day 2

This happened at day two of Euskaltel's training camp in Derio:

  • The riders left the hotel at 10:00 AM to pay a visit to bike-manufacturer Orbea's facilities.
  • Afterwards the whole team went to Meñaka to celebrate Miguel Madariaga's birthday over lunch.
  • After the celebration came to a close, they all headed back to Derio for a short work-out. The majority of the riders opted for the rollers, while some headed for the gym. During the session on the rollers, biomechanic Juan García López got to work with a few of the guys on their positioning.

Trio to promote tourism

Samu, Koldo and Ruben will all get on the plane to Valladolid for the weekend to be present at the XII Feria Internacional del Turismo de Interior. The three riders were invited by the Basque Government's Tourism department, and the riders will be signing autographs at Euskadi's own stand. Samu will be there on Friday, while Koldo and Rubén will be there on Saturday.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The staff

There's been quite a few changes to Euskaltel's backroom staff so far in the off-season, so a lot of you must be confused right now. But I'll try to change that right now:

  • General manager: Miguel Madariaga
  • Technical secretary: Igor González de Galdeano
  • Sports directors: Igor González de Galdeano, Gorka Gerrikagoitia, Josu Larrazabal (Alex Díaz)
  • Sport psychologist: Sergio Torres
  • Physical trainers: Josu Larrazabal, Alex Díaz
  • Doctors: Raquel Ortolano, Guillermo Cuesta, Sergio Quilez
  • Biomechanic: Juan García López
  • Osteopath: Nicolas Pescheux
  • Spokesman: Jesus Aizkorbe
  • Mechanics: Tomás Amezaga, Luis Lamas, Eneko Larrea, Jose Cruz Mujica, Joxe Nazabal, Luis Otazu
  • Masseurs: Andoni Arce, Miguel Caravaca, Jon Carbayeda Gabino Ereñozaga, Miguel Izaguirre, Joseba Lekue, Borja Rodríguez

Training camp day 1

This happened at day one of Euskaltel's training camp in Derio:
  • The weather was bad, so the riders opted for a quick spin on the rollers instead after having some breakfast.
  • Apparel-supplier Astore presented Euskaltel's new clothing range for leisure wear.
  • The traditional traning camp press-conference was held at 13:00. José Antonio Ardanza, Euskaltel's president, was awarded the Fundacion Euskadi Ciclista's top honour. All 23 riders were present.
  • Later in the day, Euskaltel's new sport psychologist, Sergio Torres, got to present himself.
  • The riders received advice on nutrition from dietician.

Third DS joins

Josu Larrazabal will join Euskaltel in 2009 to become the team's third directeur sportif. "Josu Larrazabal, who's already collaborated with Orbea, will join Euskaltel to become our third Sports Director", Galdeano said. "He'll be in charge of the physical training of the team, and will in addition direct the team in some smaller races. Gorka Gerrikagoitia and I will take care of the remainder of the races."

Igor targets Tour

Igor will, as predicted on this site, aim for the Tour de France next season. As Samu will take a pass on the event to focus on winning the two most important Vueltas, that of the País Vasco and España, the team's other two GC riders Igor and Mikel will focus on the Grand Boucle. "Yes, he'll got the Tour", Galdeano said of Igor at Euskaltel's camp in Derio. "Since Samu will be focusing on winning the País Vasco and the Vuelta a España, Antón will ride the Tour. He'll be there mainly to win a stage, but we're not ruling out going for the GC either." As for Astarloza, he said: "With Astarloza we hope to obtain a triumph before going to the Tour. We can't pin everything on the that race". Good news indeed.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Euskaltel stars present in Baqué celebration

Several Euskaltel stars were present yesterday in Durango to celebrate Café Baqué's 30 years of existence. Haimar, Koldo, Iñigo, Amets and Aitor Galdós represented the team alongside stars of the past like Marino Lejarreta, Miguel Induraín, Julián Gorospe, Rubén Gorospe, Joseba Beloki just to name a few. Our very own Aitor ran out winner of the elimination race.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Samu and Mikel head for San Diego

Samu and Mikel will next Saturday jump on the plane to San Diego for aerodynamic and equipment testing in the city's wind tunnel. The riders will be staying overseas for at least three days and fine-tune their time trial positions and testing out new gear from Orbea. Orbea's product engineer Iñaki Argote will run the tests and will be responsible for analyzing collected data. Gorka Gerrikagoitia, Euskaltel's DS, and Justin Slarks, the person in charge of Orbea USA, will also be travelling.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Euskaltel stars to promote BTT

Samu, Markel, Aitor Galdós and the new Euskaltel recruits Sergio de Lis and Mikel Nieve will, along with Naturgas Energía representatives Martzel Elorriaga y Samuel del Valle, on Sunday at 11.00 AM take part in a 7-kilometre walk to promote the Basque Government's BTT Centres. The BTT Centres take aim at promoting tourism in the region and the use of bicycles in daily life. The 45-minute walk will start outside the Centro BTT Debabarrena in Elgoibar, and the walkers will be able to get the stars' autographs as well as some food afterwards. Sounds lovely.

Euskaltel and Skoda roll on

Euskaltel have decided to prolong their cooperation with their car-supplier Skoda. The Czech manufacturer came on board last season and, apparently, both parties were pleased to extend the deal. On the coming Saturday in Sán Sebastián there will be a big celebration of sorts where the deal will be confirmed, Samu's unique Olympic-themed bike will be on show and a tribute will be payed to the Olympic Champ. The heads of Euskaltel, Orbea and Skoda, along with Samu, Haimar and Mikel to name a few, will be present.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Samu: "It was awesome"

Samu was a happy and grateful man after being given the chance to ride a GP motorcycle on the track in Jérez. Speaking afterwards, the great man said: "It was a fantastic experience and everyone were phenomenal towards me. I'd always wanted to ride a motorcycle like this, and I have to say it was awesome. I've always admired the pilots and, after this experience, I admire them even more. I struggled a little bit in the beginning, but I improved time went by. The truth is that I've had teachers of the highest standard".

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Haimar's diary

Haimar has, finally, posted a new entry to his diary on his own website. Here's what the departing legend had to say this time around, titled: "Here we go again".

First of all, my apologies for not updating my website for a while. After finishing my season in the Deutschland Tour, a race in which I did well and which made the end of the year a good one, I went home and dedicated myself 100 % to my family. Since Ane was born, I've never had as much time as now to be together with them. We spent nine days relaxing and reloading the batteries at the Canary Islands. Altogether I was off the bike for four weeks, more or less the same I've done the previous years.

But I've already embarked on this new project with renewed illusion. Everything's new to me: new team, new bike, new people... I still haven't met any of my new team-mates, but we've had some contact over the phone. The first camp with the team will be at the end of this month, and then I'll be able to get to know my new team-mates. I already know many of them, but from now on they'll be team-mates not companions. The team will on paper be one of the very best, although we have to prove we're the best on the road. Alberto (Contador), with his youth, and Lance, with his palmarès, will be the two main leaders. Levi (Leipheimer) and Klöden though are also able to win the biggest races, and the signing of Popovych further reinforces the team. I hope to do well in the Grand Tours and be able to help them win them. But I'm not forgetting the other riders on the team as they will, surely, do very well.

But before all this, I'll shine in the colours of Euskaltel-Euskadi for the last time this weekend. Once again I'd like to reiterate my gratefulness and wish everyone on the team the very best for the future. I'll take part in Café Baqué's criterium this Saturday in Durango. The Baqué team has existed for 25 years in the amateur category, and that's quite something. I never raced in Baqué's colours, but when I was at Olarra, Baqué was one of the strongest teams around and they still are. On Saturday we'll pay tribute to them, and I hope they keep the team going for another number of years.

I'll soon let you all know how the training camp unfolded. Until then...

Dioni finds new home in Murcia

To my delight, Dioni Galparsoro has managed to find a team for next year. Contentpolis-Murcia, or Murcia-AMPO as the Pro Conti team is likely to be called next year, decided to offer Dioni a contract, a contract he of course signed after his deal with Euskaltel wasn't extended this year. I'm happy to see he was able to land a deal with another team and, in the current clima of professional cycling, that's well done to him.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Samu 2nd in ACP criterium

The Criterium de la Asociación de Ciclistas Profesionales was held yesterday in Boadilla, Spain. Euskaltel were represented through Samu, Mikel, Koldo and Rubén, and Samu eventually finished 2nd behind retiring track great Joan Llaneras. Riders like Sastre, Contador and Valverde also participated, so Samu's 2nd place shows he's not resting on his laurels just yet.

Samu heads for San Diego

Samu will travel to San Diego to undergo wind-tunnel testing after next week's team get-together in Derio. Samu will, in his own words, "correct my position on the time trial bike" in the same facility used recently by Lance and Contador. Samu has taken big steps in the discipline over the last few years but, typical of champions like Samu, is still not entirely pleased.

Samu set to skip Tour

Despite placing 7th or 6th, who knows, at this year's Tour de France, Samu is prepared to take a pass at the 2009 edition of the race, he told Spanish newspaper La Opinion this weekend. "In principle, I won't do the Tour next year", he said. "I'm instead going to focus on the Vuelta a España, the Vuelta al País Vasco and the Wordls. It bothers me that I won't be going to the Tour, but I'm trying to do what's best for me and for the team. Last year I was in the top 6, and I believe if it wasn't for my bad day at the Tourmalet I could have fought for a place on the podium. Four years ago I wouldn't believe that if someone had told me." Speaking of the Vuelta, he said: "I've already been third overall in the Vuelta, so my goal is now to win the whole thing. Hopefully I'll be at the start of the Worlds with just as good form as I had in Beijing this year. But the Worlds, in Mendrisio, will be very hard". I know many of you will probably disagree, but I like the fact that he'll skip the Tour. I don't believe the Tour really suits Samu's way of riding, so I think he's doing the right thing.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Aketza is back

In the peloton that is, not in Euskaltel. Aketza yesterday revealed he landed a deal at the newly-formed Portuguese team Cartaxo-Capital. He didn't reveal the length of his contract, but he did express his satisfaction: "To get a contract with a team is a big triumph for me as the situation I was in was a really difficult one", he said. Well done, Aketza.

Samu, Mikel and Amets stand up

Three Euskaltel riders, Amets, Mikel and Samu, represented Euskaltel at the Basque Government's Tourist Department's stand at the Feria de Montaña y Destinos Turísticos in Madrid on Friday. The three famous riders signed posters to the visitors for a total of 3 and half hours. Yet again, don't know how interesting this information is, but in the off-season it's harder to come by interesting news than in the Tour if you know what I mean.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Ibán present at celebration

Ibán has, for the first time in quite a while, showed himself publically. Yesterday he took part in his amateur team Café Baqué's 30-year celebration alongside the likes of Aitor Galdós, Mikel Zarrabeitia and good friend David Etxebarria. Café Baqué is widely recognised as one of the world's all-time best amateur teams, turning a more-than-healthy number of young hopefuls into stars on the big stage. Ibán spent two highly successful years with the team after leaving Banesto's youth team at the end of 1996. During his two-year spell at Baqué, who was back then led by Sabino Angoitia, Ibán's right hand and DS at Saunier Duval, he accumulated no less than 13 wins. No wonder he still has feelings for the team then.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Golfing for the kids

Mikel recently took part in the VI Semana del Deporte Adaptado de Gipuzkoa where he golfed for a day together with 25 others, many of them disadvantaged children. Not the most interesting thing I've ever written, but I thought it'd be wise to let you all know that the Euskaltel riders we all adore are doing good things for the community while they're not on the bike. Euskaltel are, and always have been, very active in the local communities in the Basque country. That's what makes the team so special.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Samu to live the dream

Samu has always been a big fan of motorracing. On Monday, he'll be living the dream. Together with ex-rider Herri Torróntegui, a former winner of World Cup events, and Efrén Vázquez, of the team Blusens BQR, he'll ride on the famous track in Jerez. Samu will get the chance to test the car in several disciplines, and I wouldn't be surprised if he were to show talent on the track as well. "Samu is an exemplary sportsman who deserves all kind of recognition", Vázquez's manager said. Well spoken.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Gil looking for a job

Talented Basque climber Koldo Gil, formerly of the disgraced Liberty Seguros outfit, is out of job at the moment. The rider, who was caught up in the whole Operacion Puerto scandal, did not get his contract extended with Continental team Liberty this year after suffering from a virus which led to bad performances all year. So you're Basque, you're a climber, and you're without a team. What do you do? Call Galdeano of course. "I spoke to Igor González de Galdeano to see if they had a place for me on the team", he said. "I know that it'll be difficult (to get a contract), seeing as they've already finalized their 2009 roster. Igor told me he'd think about it, but also said it would be complicated. If I don't get a contract, I'm still without a team". It seems Galdeano didn't need too long thinking it over though, as the well-informed Euskaltel-Euskadi Blog ( quickly reported that there was indeed no room for him next year. I'm really glad he didn't land a contract. Of course, he's a brilliant rider who's capable of winning the biggest races, but it seems, jugding by his performances and links to Fuentes, that he hasn't got his ethics quite sorted out if you know what I mean. I wasn't happy to read that Galdeano indeed tried to find a place for him on the team, but, then again, they were both on the same team in the past. Bad habits never die I guess.

This man is amazing

What did I tell you? Samu is indeed a very likeable guy who has got his feet firmly planted on Mother Earth. And he's a very generous person who knows what has brought him his success. Amazingly, he's now decided he's going to share the prize money he got for winning the Olympics with his four team-mates on the day; Contador, Valverde, Sastre and Freire. And he's going to share it equally. He's reported to have received 94.000 euro for his big win, and is now looking to repay his team-mates for their work, though in a bit more literal way than usual. Once again he amazes me. He really makes me proud.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Euskaltel omnipresent in Jornadas de Ciclismo Profesional

The Jornadas de Ciclismo Profesional will be hosted for the 13th time from the 20th to the 23rd of November in Cuenca. Some of the biggest stars of cycling in Spain are invited, and among them are four associated with Euskaltel. Samu will be the main attraction on the first day, as the theme of the opening day will be "Beijing 2008, the culmination of an Olympic dream". The second day will be all about the stars of the Tour de France this year, so Galdeano and Egoi are invited to join in on the act. And that's not all; on the third day Euskaltel's physical trainer, Mr. Josu Larrazabal, will be talking to the audience about powertraining. Alejandro Valverde, Luis León Sánchez and Paco Antequera are among the big-names not from Euskaltel who will attend the celebration

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Euskaltel awards 2008

  • Best rider: Koldo Fernández
  • Best climber: Samuel Sánchez
  • Best sprinter: Koldo Fernández
  • Best time triallist: Mikel Astarloza
  • Best stage-racer: Samuel Sánchez
  • Best Classics rider: Samuel Sánchez
  • Best all-rounder: Samuel Sánchez
  • Best new-comer: Egoi Martínez
  • Best domestique: Iván Velasco
  • Best young prospect: Javier Aramendía
  • Best stage-race prospect: Igor Antón
  • Best lead-out man: Alán Pérez
  • Best breakaway rider: Iñigo Landaluze
  • Best neo-pro: Josu Agirre
  • Best signing: Egoi Martínez
  • Best tactician: Jon Odriozola
  • Most consistent rider: Mikel Astarloza
  • Most inconsistent rider: Amets Txurruka
  • Most improved rider: Gorka Verdugo
  • Most unlucky rider: Igor Antón
  • Most underperforming rider: Aitor Galdos
  • Most underrated rider: Iván Velasco and Alán Pérez
  • Most aggressive rider: Samuel Sánchez
  • Most injury-prone rider: Igor Antón
  • Most popular rider: Samuel Sánchez
  • Best moment: Samu's Olympic win

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Getting ready to rumble

The Euskaltel riders will not get that long a vacation this year. The first training camp is scheduled for the 23rd to the 27th this month. Sounds really early to me, but they know what they're doing. The riders will spend the five days in Derio, Bizkaia, and will use them to figure out which riders will do which races next year, train a little, renew acquaintances, talk to the media and getting done with some medical examinations. Sounds good.

Celebrating Samu

Samu better like parties. If not, he's having a hard time these days. Friday the 21st, in 15 days that is, his fan club will throw their annual post-season dinner with Samu as the honorary guest. The celebration, which will take place in a restaurant in Samu's hometown Oviedo, is open to all fan club members, friends and supporters. If you feel like going, call 985 214384 before the 14th of November and book a place around the table.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Jorge under the knife

Jorge successfully removed the metal plate in his left collarbone this morning. Jorge broke his collarbone in last year's deciding time trial in the Vuelta al País Vasco, and has since been riding with a piece of metal in his body. As the picture indicate, Jorge was very pleased to have the screws removed. He's already at his home chlling out and recuperating.

Samu awarded

Samu has yet again received recognition for his superb performance in Beijing this year. This time he's won the Premio Delfos del deporte, awarded by the Asociación de Amigos del Deporte. It's not just like every other prize he's won though. To win this particular prize you've got to have more than outstanding results to show for. You've got to be a good guy so to say. Personal qualities is the main criteria to put it straight. "His olympic gold plus his personal values won him the award", the president of the jury, Misael Fernández said. The jury also emphasized his "friendliness and helpfulness" towards his companions on the road as a big factor in their decision. The award will be handed over to Samu on the coming Friday in the Nuevo Teatro de La Felguera.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

De Lis signs

Sergio De Lis has surprisingly signed a two-year deal with Euskaltel. When I say surprisingly it's not because I don't rate him 'cause, believe me, I do, but it's surprising because Madariaga, Galdeano et al. have been saying these last weeks that no more riders would join the team. As it turns out, the UCI regulations say that every Pro Tour team must at least have 23 riders on their books. It's a mistery to me why the Euskaltel heads weren't aware of the rule. But, anyway, they chose to hire promising 22-year-old Sergio De Lis from Orbea. Sergio is a gifted time triallist and can, in his own words, defend himself in the mountains. "It's a great joy to join Euskaltel", he enthused. "It's every Basque cyclist's dream. They (the Fundacion Euskadi) have supported me ever since I rode for Alfus Tedes. I continued to progress in Orbea, and now I'm here! It's an enormous satisfaction, and I'll continue to work hard. I can't let this opportunity slip away." Sergio has a background from the track, something which will no doubt come in handy in the time trials. He's numerous track wins to his name, and he's also won the under-23 Spanish Road Race Championship. I've watched him closely this year, and I've been impressed with his performances. Especially his showing in the Circuito Montañes, where he held the leader's jersey for two days, was awesome. Next year will of course all be about adjusting to Pro Tour-level racing, but I'm very optimistic that he'll one day turn into a winner on the road.

Monday, November 03, 2008


A look at the 2008 statistics shows Euskaltel grabbed 8 wins in total. Or 7, it depends on whether you count Samu's Olympic gold an Euskaltel or Spain win. Personally I look at it as a Spanish win first and foremost. Anyway, 8 wins is not really much. Samu took five of those in Spanish races, while Samu took the ITT in Asturias and Igor won the 2nd stage in the Tour de Suisse. It's not good, it really isn't. And of course the guys at the helm at the team know this. Euskaltel have in fact got quite a few good riders, so reaching double figures should be the target next year. The team got 13 second places this year with Koldo grabbing 4 of those. Though, if some of those 13, like Igor's double-miss in the Euskal Bizikleta, Markel's fantastic ride in the Paris-Nice prologue, Egoi's agonising loss in the Tour, Alán's 2nd in the Giro's stage 6 and, of course, the team's 2nd in the opening team time trial in the Vuelta, had been turned into wins, it would have made for much happier reading. Luck really wasn't on Euskaltel's side this year, but, then again, all those second places weren't down to luck. Most of all it was down to bad tactics and inexperience. The number of third places surprised me quite a bit. I thought we got at least 10 of those, but as it turns out we only got 5. Koldo got 2, one each in the Vuelta and the Giro, Aitor Galdos took one, Haimar grabbed 3rd overall in the Challenge Mallorca, and Igor placed 3rd overall in the Tour de Suisse. Though, we ended up with 11 fourth places. Koldo was once again dominant in this department, grabbing 6 of those. The award of most top 10 placings of course goes out to Koldo, who, including wins, ended up a staggering 24 times inside the top 10. Mikel, in what turned out to be an unlucky season for him, grabbed 2nd, placing 11 times among the ten first. If you're down for more number crunching, go to:

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Samu: "Armstrong return perfect for pal Alberto"

Speaking to El Correo yesterday, Samu spoke his mind on Armstrong's return to the peloton. "He's got the desire to race", he said. "It can be good for the sport as he's a showman. It's good for cycling. He'll draw large crowds. It's perfect. Alberto (Contador) tells me he's very calm. He's a close friend of mine, and he says he'll just wait and see what happens. It can be positive for Alberto, as it might take some pressure of him. Everyone will be watching Armstrong. Alberto needs tranquility, and Armstrong's return might give him that."


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