Sunday, February 28, 2010

Koldo crashes out; Rubén 9th

It was a bad day for Euskaltel in the Clásica de Almería today. It didn't start out too bad, but when it came down to the anticipated sprint finish, Koldo crashed out just when the fun was about to start. Bad luck I guess. Rubén did pretty well though to grab a good 9th place, but other than that the list of result was unpleasant reading. No other rider came in with the main pack, with Iñaki and Javier being the closest ones at 21 seconds. Daniel, Jorge and Miguel all came in a further 20 seconds back, while Igor continued his worryingly bad start to the year with a 79th place, a minute and a half down.

Orbea once again impressed and punched above their weight. Xabier Zabalo made it into the break of the day along with three others, while Mikel Landa once again did well to claim 17th place. Jon Izagirre and Ricardo Garcia also made it in with the main pack, while Xabier came home 75th, 51 seconds back. Noel Martín, Andoni Blazquez and Beñat Urain came in with the last group, a full 8:34 back.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

David Etxebarria returns as well

Joseba Beloki is not the only ex-Euskaltel rider returning to the peloton as a sports director this year. David Etxebarria, who also got caught up in the Operacion Puerto scandal, will do the same, but for another team; Koplad-Uni2. The powerful puncheur and the three-time Tour podium getter will go head to head with their respective teams in the Trofeo Euskaldun season-opener in Zumaia today.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Orbea ready for Almería

Orbea will send a pretty strong 8-man team to the Clásica de Almería on Sunday. Alex Díaz will lead a team made up of Beñat Urain, Andoni Blázquez, Ricardo García, Xabier Zabalo, Mikel Landa, Ion Izagirre, Noel Martín and Aritz Etxebarria. Look out for Mikel Landa and Ion Izagirre in particular, they seem to be on good form these days.

Koldo to lead Almería charge

Koldo will lead the team for Sunday's one-day race, the Clásica Internacional de Almería. The race usually comes down to a sprint, so hopefully he'll be up there to grab the team's first win of the year. Igor, Rubén, Iñaki, Jorge, Javier, Miguel and Daniel will line up alongside him, while Alvaro González de Galdeano will lead the squad.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Beloki returns to the peloton

Former Euskaltel rider and Tour de France legend Joseba Beloki will return to the peloton this year. Not in the shape of a rider though, he'll be a sports director with the legendary Basque outfit Cafés Baqué. The talent factory that is the Baqué team will be Beloki's first as a sports director. He'll direct the team alongside another man whose connections with Euskaltel run deep, Rubén Gorospe, little brother of former Euskaltel director Júlian. Ibán, along with a host of past and present Euskaltel riders, have ridden for the team.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Are you the next Ibán? Nr. 2: Romain Sicard

Next in line is under-23 World Champ Romain Sicard. Can this young fellow emulate Ibán, or go even further?

  • Basque? Yes
  • Awesome climber? Remains to be seen how he fares in the pro ranks, but if his years in the youth ranks are anything to go by he'll be awesome for sure
  • Erratic? Doesn't seem like an erratic rider at all. His win in the Tour de l'Avenir has so far proven the opposite.
  • Good in long time trials? He's actually pretty good against the clock. And on the boards.
  • Explosive? Nope
  • Classy? For sure
  • Rock star looks? Not at all
  • GT material? Most definetely
  • Fragile personality? Nope, seems calm and down to earth
  • Cool sideburns and earrings? Nope
  • Verdict: No, he most definetely is not a new Ibán. Romain is a much more complete rider, and doesn't possess the explosiveness of Ibán. He might well go on to be even better than Ibán, especially as a stage-racer. Looks like a healthy and nice kid, but not a rock star.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Romain wins mountains jersey; Aitor H 8th overall

It was a good day out for the team today in the Tour de Haut Var's concluding stage. Romain once again went on the attack, looking to claim the mountains jersey. On the 'Hors Categorie' Col du Mons he jumped away, and crested the summit with a small group of riders, containing the likes of Moncoutié. The points accumulated on the top were more than enough to make sure he won the jersey. Great stuff! It was, just like yesterday, an uphill finish. And again like yesterday, Aitor did very well to claim 11th place on the stage, and thus he finalized the race ranked 8th. Iván did okay to come in 22nd on the stage, 42 seconds back, while Romain came in 30th, 1:08 down. Gorka ended up a further 20 seconds back, while Jonathan, Aitor Galdós and Alán came in 81st through 83rd, all of them more than 15 minutes back. These results mean the GC looks like this:

  • 8th, Aitor Hernández, 0:22
  • 22nd, Iván Velasco, 0:52
  • 33rd, Gorka Izagirre, 1:48
  • 54th, Romain Sicard, 10:23
  • 73rd, Aitor Galdós, 15:57
  • 74th, Jonathan Castroviejo, 16:04
  • 75th, Alán Pérez, 16:08

Romain on the attack in Haut Var

Romain was one of the main protagonists on today's first stage of the Tour de Haut Var. The youngster made it into the break of the day and fought to grab hold of the mountains jersey. He fell just short though, trailing Leonardo Duque by 7 points going into the final stage. The break was of course reeled in, and the stage was set for an uphill sprint to the finish-line. Nocentini prevailed, unsurprisingly, with Aitor Hernández showing good form to claim 12th, just 6 seconds back. Iván, Alán and Aitor Galdós all came in 13 seconds back, while Gorka and Jonathan ended up in 62nd and 73rd place respectively, both 23 seconds down. Romain ended up a full 9:18 in arrears, but can nonetheless be happy with his day out. Sergio sadly had to cut his participation in the race short due to stomach problems.

Samu happy with Algarve performance

After today's concluding Volta ao Algarve stage, Samu expressed his delight at his performance. "I'm very pleased with my peformance in this race, as it shows I've been training well", he said. "I've been feeling as good as I hoped I would, so that as well is a positive. I've been working a lot harder at this time of year than I've ever done before as I'm targeting the Vuelta al País Vasco. Now, I hope to improve even more leading up to the Paris-Nice, a race I've done well in before. Speaking of Contador, he's been the best without a shadow of doubt, so he's the rightfull winner. His team (Astana) have also proved to be the best, so I'd like to take this opportunity to congratulate them."

Samu 7th on stage, 5th overall

The Volta ao Algarve came to a close today with a 17,2 kilometre time trial. As usual no great results from the guys in orange, though Samu did well to grab 7th, 35 seconds back on stage-winner Luis León Sánchez. That result means he ended up a good 5th overall, just 57 seconds down on the invincible Contador. The rest of the guys didn't really show up, except for JJ who did okay to finish 38th on the stage and 20th overall. Full stage results:
  • 7th, Samuel Sánchez, 0:35
  • 38th, Juan José Oroz, 1:31
  • 66st, Koldo Fernández, 2:07
  • 90th, Mikel Nieve, 2:31
  • 96th, Gorka Verdugo, 2:40
  • 99th, Igor Antón, 2:44
  • 119th, Egoi Martínez, 3:26

General classification results:

  • 5th, Samuel Sánchez, 0:57
  • 20th, Juan José Oroz, 2:34
  • 41st, Mikel Nieve, 4:00
  • 49th, Igor Antón, 5:26
  • 55th, Egoi Martínez, 7:51
  • 61st, Gorka Verdugo, 9:45
  • 92nd, Koldo Fernández, 20:06

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Egoi close (as usual)

Breakaways are not Euskaltel's cup of tea. I can't remember the last time an Euskaltel rider came out on top from a break. It was the same story today. RadioShack rider Sébastien Rosseler broke away early on today's fourth stage in Algarve, and a quartet, including Egoi, went in pursuit later on. They almost caught him, Rosseler came in 20 seconds ahead of them, and the four of them were left to fight it out for the remaining podium places. No prizes for guessing who came in last. This might seem overly critical, after all he came in 5th, which is pretty good. But it's just so annoying to no rider in the team seem able to win from a break. Why is that? Is it down to finishing-speed, or lack thereof? Yes. Is it also down to a lack of tactical nous? Most probably, but I'm no expert, so I wont say that's definetely the case. Anyway... The rest of the guys came in with the pack, with Samu retaining his 4th place overall ahead of tomorrow's concluding time trial.

Beñat goes global

Beñat has finally got himself a homepage! Log into to keep up to date with everything Beñat. Check it out!

Disappointing day in Algarve

Today's third stage of the Volta ao Algarve, which ended with a summit-finish, did not go to plan for the team. Beñat had to abandon as he was laid low by gastroenteritis, like Daniel Sesma the other day, and Samu lost a full 31 seconds to stage-winner and overall leader Contador. He came home in 7th place, and advanced to 4th overall, so actually it's not bad at all, it's pretty good in fact, this being the first race of the year for him and all that. But still he had expected more. And I certainly expected more from the other riders as well. Only JJ performed reasonably well, coming home in 30th place, 1:05 back. Mikel was a disappointing 35th, 1:11 in arrears, Igor was 64th, 2:02 down, while Egoi and Gorka ended up 4:20 and 4:23 back respectively, way off the pace. Koldo was a full 17:24 down, but that's understandable given he's all but a climber. It's hard to tell if some of the results are down to gastroenteritis or something, so perhaps I shouldn't be too hard on them.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Samu 3rd in Algarve

Despite crashing quite badly with only 25 kilometres left to go today, Samu capped off the team's brilliant work to grab 3rd on the stage, and move up to 5th on GC. Samu uncharacteristically overhit a bend on a descent and fell heavily on his left side. His recovery was impressive to say the least. The rest of the team spent the chunk of the day at the front, keeping a five-man break within reach of the pack. As a result the a lot of the guys ended up way back today, except for the impressive JJ and Igor, who both came in with the main pack. Mikel ended up 27 seconds adrift, Koldo 44 back, Egoi and Gorka 2:51 down and Beñat a massive 12:42 back. Today's results leave Samu in a promising 5ht place overall, only 14 seconds down on Greipel and best placed of the GC guys. The rest of the guys are, barring miracles, well out of contention, but will no doubt give it their all for the team leader. After the stage, Samu had this to say: "It's been a very hard stage. The cold and the rain, as well as distance (over 200 km), made it really tough. The team was sensational the last 50 km. Together with Caisse and Astana we reeled the break back in, something that looked highly unlikely for a long time. My third place today is not of great importance, it happened merely because I was well placed in the finale. As for the fall, I was going really fast downhill and misjudged a bend. My shoulder is pretty sore. We'll see how it is tomorrow, I hope it's nothing serious".

Samu 9th in Algarve opener

Samu grabbed a fine 9th place in the opening stage of the Volta ao Algarve today. The stage was expected to come down to a sprint, but confusion and a late surge by Benoît Vaugrenard derailed Euskaltel's, Katusha's, and Columbia's plans. Koldo, JJ, Mikel, Egoi and Gorka all came in with the main pack together with Samu, while Igor and Beñat both came in 48 seconds back. Igor is making a slow start to the season, let's hope he can show us something special when the road tilts upwards.

Sesma out of Haut Var

According to Igor González de Galdeano's Twitter feed, gastroenteritis has put Daniel out of the Haut Var team. He was supposed to take part in the French race, but Jonathan will now take his place. Igor also mentioned the stomach flu is sweeping through the team, but more on that later when it becomes clear who is affected.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Another Ibán video

The Dauphiné always brought out the best in Ibán. Just found a video on DailyMotion which shows Ibán taking 2nd on the 2006 Dauphiné-stage to Morzine. This ride, to be followed by THAT win on the Toussuire a few days later, signalled Ibán's return to the top after a couple of bad years. For one reason or another I can't paste a link to the page, but go to and search for 'Iban Mayo dauphiné 2006'. Enjoy!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Are you the next Ibán? Nr. 1: Beñat Intxausti

Many riders the last few years have been touted as the next Ibán. Few of them will ever get close to him, either being too bad on the climbs or too good in the time trials. But the search goes on, and here's candidate number 1: Beñat Intxausti.
  • Basque? Yes
  • Awesome climber? Good climber, but has some work to do to earn the tag 'awesome'
  • Erratic? Not really, but a bit too early to say
  • Good in long time trials? Nope
  • Explosive? Nope
  • Classy? Yes
  • Rock star looks? Nope
  • Natural talent? Yes
  • GT material? Yes
  • Fragile personality? Don't think so
  • Cool sideburns and earrings? Nope
  • Verdict: Not really close. Eventhough Beñat is a big fan of him, he's not erratic enough and he doesn't possess the same cool looks and climbing ability. At least not yet. Has the potential though, as he's similarly not comfortable on the flats and has the class and natural ability. Time will tell but, at the time being, this is not the new Ibán.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Usual suspects for Tour

Euskaltel's team for the Tour this year will not include a lot of surprises. Samu will of course lead the team, and alongside him he'll have the trusted Egoi, Amets, Gorka and Rubén, as well as four out of JJ, Iñaki, Alán, Iván and Aitor Hernández. Romain and Koldo are actually both listed as reserves, but it's highly unlikely they'll head to Rotterdam. So, what do you think of the team?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Having a laugh

Just stumbled over a relatively new video of Ibán on YouTube. Here he is, trying to do an interview but instead ends up almost laughing his head off together with the interviewer. Classic!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Strong team for Algarve

Euskaltel will send a surprisingly strong team to the Volta ao Algarve in Portugal, to be held from the 17th to the 21st this month. Samu, Igor, Beñat, Koldo, Egoi, Gorka, JJ and Mikel will take the start. With such a strong team they should be able to bring in a win or two. Especially Koldo, who looks to be on fire these days.

Team for Haut Var

Euskaltel will send an 8-man team to the Tour de Haut Var. The race, which runs from the 20th to the 21st of February, will see Romain, Gorka, Sergio, the two Aitors, Daniel, Alán and Iván take part. Alvaro will be in charge of affairs here.

Naturgas going red

The under-23 team Naturgas Enegía was officially presented here the other day, and I thought I'd let you know what their jerseys will look like this year. They'll be all red this season, having been blue for the past two years.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

"The team was phenomenal"

Those are the words of Euskaltel speedster Koldo, who claimed 2nd in the Trofeo Magaluf-Palmanova today. Here's his take on the stage: "I'm satisfied with what we accomplished. The team was phenomenal, working hard all day to ensure the stage ended in a sprint. I was confident, but Greipel was really strong, and he's probably the most in-form sprinter there is right now. He showed that in Australia, and once again today. I felt good, and the race has showed me that my end-speed is where it has be, but, yes, I was quite tired towards the end, so I still need a couple more races to reach my peak. Next up is Algarve, and I hope to take the first win of the season there. The sooner the win comes the better. A win always gives to tranquility and confidence".

Koldo close

Koldo once again did well to claim a good, yet slightly annoying, 2nd place in the last stage of the Mallorca Challenge, formally known as the Trofeo Magaluf-Palmanova. This time around he was bested by Greipel, hardly something to be ashamed of. The stage was quite hilly, so he did very well to be there at the end. The team as a whole actually did very well. Right from the start they assumed control of the bunch alongside Greipel's HTC team. And though attacks went left, right and center for the duration of the stage, they managed to keep it together and set Koldo up for the sprint. That's the way to do it. Rubén also showed he can mix it with the sprinters, grabbing a fine 9th place. Iván came in 10 seconds adrift in 22nd place, while Beñat arrived a further 21 seconds back, and Iñaki ended up a full 4:24 down. Mikel, Aitor, Alán, JJ and Sergio all abandoned after doing their fair share of pace-setting on the front.

Orbea didn't really cut it today, Mikel Landa and Jon Izagirre being their best, and only, finishers in 42nd and 44th place respectively, both 17 seconds down. The team, and Mikel and Jon in particular, has had a really good showing in the race as a whole though, and can be pleased with themselves.

Beñat impressive in Mallorca

Just like yesterday, Beñat impressed with his early-season form today in the penultimate leg of the Challenge de Baleares. On the hilly course he placed 7th, only 7 seconds down on stage-winner Rui Costa. In the same group was the ever-aggressive Amets, also he looking to be climbing alright already. JJ and Mikel both came in 1:20 down, surprising given Mikel's strong showing yesterday. Iván ended up 2:33 in arrears, while Igor continued his slow start to the season by placing 56th, a full 3:25 back. Rubén came in alongside Igor, while Gorka ended up a massive 8:02 back. Alán stepped off. Tomorrow, the last stage, will probably be a chance for the sprinters to shine, so Euskaltel will pin all their hopes on Koldo.

For Orbea, Mikel Landa was once again impressive, coming in with the first group 7 seconds back. He was the only rider to get a result though, as the rest of the guys either ended up outside the time-limit or as DNFs.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Jonathan reveals next races

Euskaltel new-boy Jonathan Castroviejo has reveiled his up-coming races on his own website. Next up for the youngster is the Clásica de Almería. After that it's time for the Volta a Catalunya, the Vuelta a Castilla y León, Romandie, Picardie, Luxembourg and then the Tour de Suisse. Right now he's just clocking up the miles at home, looking to reach a good point of form in time for the planned races.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Mikel climbs to 4th in Mallorca

Mikel showed glimpses of his undoubted ability by placing 4th in the Trofeo Inca today, best of the rest behind a three-man break. Gerdemann escaped with highly-impressive Rafael Valls and Manuel Vázquez early on and grabbed the win in a sprint with his breakaway-companions. As said though, Mikel proved to be the strongest of the pack though, coming in 2:22 back, over ten seconds ahead of the next two riders. On a terrible day, weather-wise that is, some of the other riders shone as well. Beñat, making his debut for the team, came in a good 16th, while Amets came in with the same small group. The two diminutive climbers are showing good early-season form. Aitor and Igor came in 13 minutes and 20 seconds back, while the rest of the team, like most of the peloton today, ended up outside the time-limit or simply stood off underway.

Other Basques doing well today were Orbea's Mikel Landa and Izagirre Jr. Remember I told you to keep an eye on this pair? Jon Izagirre came in a very impressive 11th, while Mikel was 14th, both alongside (future team-mates?) Beñat and Amets, and small group of other good climbers. Xabier Zabalo ended up outside the time-limit, while the rest of the guys abandoned.

Koldo comes up short in Cala Millor

Koldo was again up there when it came down to a sprint on the second stage on the Challenge de Baleares, the Cala Millor. This time though he had to make do with a fifth place, the mighty Freire taking the spoils. Along with Koldo, Igor, Alán, Iñaki, Iván, Aitor, Gorka, Sergio and Rubén lined up. Everyone but Rubén and Igor came in with the main pack. Rubén came in 22 seconds in arrears, while Igor ended up a whopping two and a half minutes back.

Orbea once again acquitted themselves well. Andoni Blazquez made it into the break of the day. Jon Aberasturi was again their highest placed rider though, coming in a good 18th. Jon Izagirre, Mikel Landa, Beñat Urain and Adrián Saez all came in with the peloton, while Xabier Zabalo ended up 56 seconds back, while Noel Martín came in 2:30 back, Aritz Etxebarria 4:19 and Andoni Blazquez, smarting from his day-long effort, came in last, 6:07 back.

Koldo pleased with start

Speaking to the press after his second place in the Trofeo Palma, Koldo said: "To start the season with a second place is good. Obviously the best would be to win, but it still shows we've been training well this winter and that we're close to winning already. McEwen won. He's already done a few races in Australia, and that showed. In sprint finishes like this it's, besides feeling good, important to have luck on your side and find the best place in the train. I'm left with good sensations. I felt good all day, and I'll try again in the second stage. The last stage is my favourite though. It's a harder stage, we'll be tired when the sprint comes along and I'll have another few days of racing in my legs. Let's hope for the best".

Koldo oh so close

Koldo came close to his first win of the year in his first race, placing second to Robbie McEwen in the first stage of the Challenge de Baleares, more commonly referred to as the Trofeo Palma. Though second places isn't really worth anything in professional sport, it's still good to me, as it indicates he's been training well over the winter. There are more important races coming up later for Koldo. The whole team, consisting of JJ, Jorge, Mikel, Iván, Gorka, Iñaki, Sergio, Rubén and Alán, did well, driving the bunch towards the end to set up Koldo. As a result some of them didn't manage to keep up at the end, coming in a few seconds behind the peloton. Mikel came in 7 seconds back, Alán, Sergio and Gorka at 11, with JJ a further 8 seconds back.

Orbea had an impressive performance, placing Xabier Zabalo in the break of the day, while Jon Aberasturi did very well indeed to grab 12th in his first professional race. Jon Izagirre, Mikel Landa, Beñat Urain and Andoni Blazquez all came in with the main pack, while Aritz Etxebarria ended up 11 seconds back and Xabier Zabalo 19. The promising Noel Martín wasn't on his best day, ending up dead last, 4:27 back.

Naturgas Energía to be unveiled

La Fundacíon Euskadi's under-23 team, Naturgas Energía, will officially be presented to press and fans in two days time. The presentation will be held at the Artium/Centro-Museo Vasco de Arte Contemporaneo in Vitoria-Gasteiz, the Basque capital. The roster will contain 17 riders: Alberto Guinea, Efrén Carazo, Carlos Barbero, Fernando Grijalva, Unai Martínez, Mikel Martioda, Alex and Peio Bilbao, David Hidalgo, Jon Larriñaga, Igor Merino, Rory Martínez, Mikel Bizkarra, Aitor Ocampos, Urtzi Legarra, Alfonso Saiz and, last but not least, Andoni Sánchez. The team has enjoyed two successful seasons since it's inception, and will hope to build on it this year.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Romain wins DEIA gong

Romain has won Basque newspaper DEIA's annual "Best Basque sportsman of the year" award. No surprises there then. Not much more to say I guess, except that he's a very worthy winner indeed. Winning the Subida al Naranco, the queen-stage of the Ronde de l'Isard (to Plateau de Beille), the Tour de l'Avenir and the Worlds is simply stunning.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Iñaki at your service

Iñaki spoke to DEIA yesterday about his plans and goals for the season, and said that his primary objective was "to help the leaders of the team the best I can", that being Samu and Koldo. Iñaki, himself a more than capable sprinter, will ride the Tour de France once again, as the veteran is a trusted rider in the team and Samu has the utmost confidence in him. Before the Tour he'll look to be in good form at the Tirreno-Adriatico, but stressed that "the directors haven't told me to be in peak condition for one particular race. The only thing they demand from me is that I'm at an acceptable level and that I'm capable of helping the leaders at any given time". He'll get his season underway on Sunday with the Mallorca Challenge, and after that it's time for Adriatico, the Spring Classics (including Roubaix for the first time), Romandie and then the Dauphiné before he heads to Rotterdam for the Grand Départ.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Orbea ready for Mallorca

Orbea will, like Euskaltel, take part in the 19th edition of the Challenge Ciclista a Mallorca, starting this coming Sunday. The team will send Ion Izagirre, Beñat Urain, Andoni Blázquez, Jon Aberasturi, Noel Martín, Adrian Sáez de Arregi, Aritz Etxebarria, Xabier Zabalo, Mikel Illundai and Ricardo Garcia. So, effectively, everyone but Joseba Larralde and Mikel Landa will go. The 10 riders will no doubt look to animate the race, so expect to see them off the front in search of the right break.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Igor targets Vuelta

Igor is hoping to rediscover his old self this year after an inury-plagued 2009 season. Speaking to Gara yesterday, the mercurial climber said he'll lead the team in the Vuelta with a view towards a stage-win and possible a place on the overall podium. But first though he'll aim to do well in the Klasika Amorebieta, the GP Induraín, the Vuelta a Castilla y León and in the Volta a Catalunya in particular, before his first part of the season comes to a close with the Tour de Romandie. Contrary to what I earlier reported, País Vasco doesn't figure in his plans this year. My bad. He'll get his season underway with the Mallorca Challenge in a few days' time.

14 riders head to Mallorca

Euskaltel will send a 14-man strong team to their European season-opener, the Mallorca Challenge. The five-stage race, where the teams can alternate their line-ups from day to day, will see Koldo, Igor Antón, Alán and Rubén Pérez, Aitor Galdós, Iván Velasco, Mikel Nieve, Amets Txurruka, Gorka Verdugo, Iñaki, Sergio De Lis, JJ Oroz, Jorge Azanza and Beñat trying to get an early-season win for the team. The race starts this Sunday and ends five days later. Look out for strong rides by Iván and Mikel in particular, as the pair looked to be climbing allright in Australia recently. I'm also anxious to see what kind of shape Igor and Koldo are in this time of year. My bet is on one stage-win for Koldo and one second place, while Iván grabs a top-10 place on GC.

Team presentation

Euskaltel yesterday unveiled the 2010 team to the public and mass media in the Palacio Euskalduna in Bilbao. As team presentations go they're not overly exciting. As usual, the big guys, like Igor González de Galdeano, Miguel Madariaga, deputy general of Bizkaia, José Luis Bilbao, the president of the Basque government, Patxi López, and Euskaltel president José Antonio Ardanza, held their inspirational speeches about being Basque, Euskaltel being more than just a team, getting a rider on the podium in the Tour, and all that. In addition to all the talking, the Fundacion Euskadi paid an emotional tribute to Agustín Sagasti, the now deceased former rider who secured Euskaltel's first ever win way back in the Vuelta al País Vasco in '94. A nice touch. Other than that not much to report. Just for the record though, Igor is the new General Manager of the team after Miguel stepped down from that particular position late last year. Miguel is still president of the foundation though. Igor's brother, the very capable Alvaro, and the ever-reliable Gorka Gerrikagoitia will be the team's two sport directors this year, while Josu Larrazabal will once again be "preparador físico", whatever that title entails.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Landaluze to caugh up

Disgraced former Euskaltel stalwart Iñigo Landaluze has received a hefty fine from the UCI. The former Dauphiné winner tested positive for CERA last year (and admitted to taking the banned substance), and Iñigo will now have to pay the UCI 27.000 euros as per the new anti-doping rules. Doesn't sound unfair to me.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Samu happy at Euskaltel

As with all big-name riders in the peloton, Samu is a very sought-after rider for the top teams in the world. He's once again moved to quash these rumours though by stating emphatically: "I can't picture myself in another team. I'd love to stay on beyond 2010. I want to finish my career at Euskaltel". Sounds good to me.

Beñat outlines goals

Paris-Nice and the Vuelta al País Vasco will be Beñat's two main goals for the first part of the season. Later on in the season he'll look to climb well in the Vuelta, a race which will be only his second GT in his career after making his debut in the same race last season. The Amorebieta native will take part in a number of big races this spring, including the Mallorca Challenge, Algarve, Criterium International, GP Miguel Indurain, his "home race" Klasika Primavera and Asturias. He'll aim to peak though, as said, for the Vuelta al País Vasco, together with Samu and Igor.

Romain and Beñat going aero

Two of Euskaltel's most gifter riders, Beñat and Romain, will head to the Velódrome Antonio Elorza in Sán Sebastian tomorrow. Once there, the pair will try out different positions on their Orbea Ordus in search of the perfect aerodynamic position. Igor González de Galdeano, himself a powerful time trialist in his pomp, will be in charge of the experimentation. Romain has always been gifted both in the TTs and on the boards, but Beñat has quite a margin of improvement. A brilliant climber, the diminute Beñat has recently identified his skills against the clock, or maybe lack there of, as his biggest weakness. Hopefully tomorrow's session will give him a much-needed boost in that discipline.


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