Friday, April 30, 2010

Gorka 17th in Romandie ITT

Gorka Verdugo showed he's riding himself back into form by placing a strong 17th in today's 24,3-kilometre individual time trial in teh Tour de Romandie. Finishing ahead of riders like Pinotti, Casar, Kreuziger, Plaza, Grabsch and Sagan in such a taxing stage is impressive to say the least. Igor did quite well to come home 37th, 1:41 down on surprise-winner Porte, while JJ was 48th at 1:54. Alan was 64th at 2:20, Iñaki 88th at 2:57, Koldo 109th at 3:33, Mikel 113th at 3:42 and Aitor Galdós 150th at 5:43. With a few hilly stages coming up, the overall looks like this:
  • 36th, Igor Antón, 1:26
  • 38th, Juan José Oroz, 1:30
  • 63rd, Gorka Verdugo, 2:30
  • 70th, Iñaki Isasi, 2:45
  • 90th, Alan Pérez, 3:39
  • 91st, Mikel Nieve, 3:39
  • 106th, Koldo Fernández, 12:47
  • 149th, Aitor Galdós, 30:37

Koldo back in form in Romandie

Koldo showed he's finding his way back into form following his enforced lay-off due to his ear problems. In today's second stage of the Tour de Romandie he sprinted to a good sixth place after some phenomenal team-work set him up perfectly on Peter Sagan's wheel with 400 metres to go. Koldo couldn't quite get into top gear after being exposed to the wind too early, but still did well to claim sixth ahead of riders like Wyss, Swift, Roche, Weylandt and Ciolek. As mentioned, the guys did really well to get Koldo into position for the sprint. With three kilometres left he seemed to be too far back (as usual!), but the guys displayed some nice bike-handling skills and raw power to bring him into the perfect position. Great job by the team. A thumps-up for Alan Pérez as well, who continued where he let off in LBL recently by spending another long day in the break of the day. Together with Ignatiev, Beyer and Van Winden he built up a handy lead, but it wasn't meant to be as the teams in the pack were all keen on a sprint finish. Alan showed he was strong though by, together with Ignatiev, dropping Van Winden and Beyer when it got reel steep towards the end. Good ride. Alan and Gorka Verdugo eventually ended up 1:32 down after doing more than could be expected for Koldo, while Aitor G came in together with a big group 10:53 in arrears.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Beñat 5th overall in Asturias

Beñat showed his form is still there after getting through a hilly day in the Vuelta a Asturias today and lying in fifth place overall. A select group of 20 riders came to the line together. Vicioso naturally won the stage with Beñat taking 7th and thus fifth place on GC. Not bad. The other Euskaltel riders spent their energy working for their captain and as a result ended up way back. Romain did well to come home just 39 seconds back in 34th place, while Jorge was 2:16 down in 70th place, Javier was 91st at 8:47, Pablo 96th at 11:41, Jonathan 97th at 12:02, Gorka 98th 12:04 down and Miguel dead last in 100th place 12:04 down as well. Aketza Peña (remember him?) is really riding himself back into form and today took a good 18th place and is now 9th overall. As for Orbea, Jon Izagirre was once again impressive with his 23rd place 38 seconds down, while Mikel Landa was also good, taking 26th just one second further back. Ricardo García was 2:16 down, while Xabier Zabalo was 5:16 down and Andoni Blázquez 7:34 down. Mikel Ilundain and Adrián Sáez de Arregi were both 8:47 back, while Aritz Etxebarria was 11:41 down just ahead of a quartet of Euskaltel riders. Gorka lost his Intermediate Sprints jersey and is now second, while Mikel Landa is now third in the mountains ranking.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Pablo sprints to win in Asturias

Pablo Urtasun sprinted to Euskaltel's fourth win in April by taking out the first stage of the Vuelta a Asturias ahead of an on-fire Vicioso and Joaquin Sobrino. It was the perfect result for Pablo to cap of several weeks of impressive, yet winless, performances. The stage unfolded as anticipated with a two-man break getting some minutes leeway. The precocious Mikel Landa of Orbea was one of them, but together with Corti they were reeled in with 8 kilometres to go after hard work by Euskaltel. From there on in there was ever only one team at the head of the pack. Pablo's seven team-mates did a fantastic job to give him the perfect lead-out, and the powerful 30-year-old came around Vicioso on the right-hand side close to the barriers to take an important win. Pablo was a grateful man after the win. "The team has been awesome. From Intxausti to Aramendía, who was my last man, they all did amazing work. Romain Sicard, Jorge Azanza, Miguel Minguez, Gorka Izagirre and Jonathan Castroviejo all kept their calm to keep the pace high inside the last 5 kilometres. The team trusted me and it's a great joy to pay the back with this win. After crossing the line we were all happy and it was very emotional".

Beñat, Jonathan and Javier came in with the leading peloton, while Romain, Jorge and Gorka came in six seconds back and Miguel 1:45. Gorka grabbed the first and only intermediate sprint points on offer ahead of Pablo and those two naturally occupy the first two places in that competition. Awesome. Mikel Landa is leading the mountains ranking after grabbing maximum points on offer, so that's great as well. All of Orbea's riders, including Mikel, came in six seconds down, but no one could possibly be bothered by that on such a good day.

Status quo in Romandie

Euskaltel enjoyed an anonymous day in the first stage proper of the Tour de Romandie. None of teh guys made it into the break, but Iñaki entered the fight for the stage-win and came out with a fine 13th place on the day. Everyone but sprinters Koldo and Aitor G came in with the main pack, a feat which is quite impressive given the hilly parcours. Koldo came in 9:28 back, while Aitor ended up 14:13 in arrears. The GC remained largely unchanged with JJ still holding onto his 12th place overall.

Barbero takes last stage

Carlos Barbero capped off some fantastic riding by the team to take the third and last stage of the Tres Días de Álava, running in and around the Basque capital of Álava. A dangerous eight-man break got up the road with only Bizkarra from the right team in it, so the rest of the guys in red set about driving the pace at the head of the pack to reel them in. They eventually succeeded, and Barbero used his explosive end-speed to awesome effect to take yet another big win for the team. Igor Merino also showed he's got what it takes to mix it up in the sprints with a fine 5th place. Bizkarra won the mountain jersey, while Jon Larriñaga won the best Álavan rider category. Barbero was naturally a happy young man after the race and expressed his delight at his team-mates' work, saying: "My team-mates were brilliant and I have only got words of gratitude for them. They did fantastically well. The win was a great way to close out the race for us".

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Euskaltel come up short in Naranco

The Subida al Naranco did not go to plan for the team today. A massive break containing 26 riders got away early on with only two Euskaltel riders in it: Gorka Izagirre and Jorge Azanza. Due to the numerical disadvantage in the break, the rest of the guys back in the pack set about driving the pace in the hope of reeling the break back in. They did not succeed though, and even though Beñat clocked a fantastic time up the climb, he started too far back to get anywhere close to the remnants of the break. Eventually he finished a distant 21st, a full 2:59 down. The only other Euskaltel guy to finish was Jorge, coming in 28th. The rest of the guys abandoned, much like Orbea who only had one finisher. Izagirre Jr., Jon, came in a good 19th.

Ocampos 3rd in Álava

Naturgas continued their strong form with another podium place this weekend, this time through Aitor Ocampos in the second stage of the Tres Días de Álava. The youngster got into the decisive break late on, but couldn't quite match Caja Rural's Jordi Simon on the steep climb up to the line in Ozaeta. He came in two seconds back, while another Naturgas rider was to be found in 9th place; Pello Bilbao. In the process, Aitor Ocampos won the Metas Volantes prize, while another Naturgas rider, this time Jon Larriñaga, scooped the Best Álavan rider-prize.

JJ impressive in Romandie prologue

JJ grabbed an impressive 12th place in today's prologue in the Tour de Romandie. The prologue was held over a mainly flat 4,3-kilometre long circuit in Porrentruy, and JJ showed his form is still at a remarkable level, coming in just 8 seconds adrift of winner Pinotti and ahead of riders like Valverde, Larsson, Menchov, Cavendish, Rabon and Karpets to name a few. The other guys were as predicted way off the pace. Gorka was 13 seconds back in 45th place, Igor and Koldo were both 18 seconds down, Iñaki 20 down, Aitor G 21, Alan 22 and Mikel 29. An okay start for the team as a whole to the race, but an excellent one for JJ.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Orbea reveal roster for Naranco and Asturias

Orbea will naturally take part in the Subida al Naranco on Tuesday and the five-day Vuelta a Asturias starting on Wednesday. Like Euskaltel, they'll send the same eight riders to both events: Jon Aberasturi, Mikel Landa, Mikel Ilundain, Aritz Etxebarria, Adrián Sáez de Arregi, Andoni Blázquez, Xabier Zabalo and Jon Izagirre. Strong team, but they'll find it difficult to repeat Sicard's win last year.

Romandie, Naranco and Asturias teams

Euskaltel have released their line-ups for the upcoming three races: Tour de Romandie, Subida al Naranco and the Vuelta a Asturias. For the latter two, the team will field the same eight riders: Beñat, Romain, Jorge, Jonathan, Gorka, Miguel, Javier and Pablo. The hilly one-day classic Subida al Naranco will be staged tomorrow, while Asturias will be held from Wednesday 'til Sunday. As for the Tour de Romandie, Igor will lead the team in hope of capitalising on his brilliant form. The time trials will make a good GC placing complicated, so he'll no doubt aim for stage-wins. So too will Koldo, on the flatter stages natually, while JJ, Mikel, Aitor Galdós, Gorka Verdugo, Alan and Iñaki round out a strong-looking roster.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Igor brilliant in LBL

Igor showed in today's Liège-Bastogne-Liège, just like in Wednesday's Fléche Wallonne, that he's among the very best on uphill terrain at the moment. Finishing 4th and 7th in your very first participation in Fléche and Liège is sublime. That's something really special. This might sound very biased, but I'm of the opinion that Igor was the strongest rider on Wednesday. If he'd been a bit better tactically and not jumped into that late-race break I'm positive he would have won the whole thing. Being caught in a breakaway group at the foot of the Huy and going on to lead the very best riders up big parts of the climb and then finish fourth is extraordinary. And finishing 7th ahead of guys like Horner, Fränk Schleck, Contador, Gerrans, Wegmann, Hesjedal, Cunego, Leon Sánchez, Purito and Garzelli, to name but a few, in your first Doyenne is marvellous. Now I'm looking forward to Tuesday. That's the start-date for the Tour de Romandie, a race Igor will take part in and hopefully rock. He'll be unbeatable up those big mountains the Tour de Romandie normally throws up. Also a big thumps-up for the rest of the team. Alan was superb in the break of the day, driving the pace and looking very strong. He looked phenomenal. So too did the ever-dependable JJ, Egoi and Iñaki who took care of their captain in every possible way and went on to finish the race in 40th, 41st and 71st respectively. Mikel, riding his first LBL, did the most important thing in your first participation, namely finishing it. Though he came in a distant 108th, the experience will hold him in good stead for the future.

Romain 9th in Rioja

Euskaltel put on a decent show in today's Vuelta a la Rioja. The one-time stage-race was, just like yesterday's GP Llodio, won by Angel Vicioso. Euskaltel put four men, Jorge, Miguel, Jonathan and Beñat, in the day's break. Getting four riders in a break is no mean feat, but unfortunately Xacobeo-Galicia reeled them all back in. As mentioned in the headline, Romain went on to claim a good 9th place, leading home a 8-man strong group 1:36 down. Good showing from him, who also went on to win the under-23 category in the race. Javier placed 39th and Gorka Izagirre 58th, while the rest of the riders abandoned. After the race, Igor González de Galdeano expressed his contentment. "The evaluation of this race is positive. We worked well during the race. We were active from the start and put four men in the break of the day, being the best-represented team up front. Minguez, Castroviejo, Azanza and Intxausti gave us presence in the break. Xacobeo-Galicia did very well to neutralize the group. Sicard was very good in the final part of the race. We're talking about very young riders here and they're all showing quality. It's good to see and it gives us satisfaction that young riders like Minguez, Izagirre, Castroviejo, Sicard and Intxausti are all performing at a high level. For that reason out participation has been a success."

Orbea didn't really step up today, Beñat Urain being their best rider in 41st place more than 8 minutes back. Mikel Ilundain was 67th, Jon Aberasturi 68th, Andoni Blázquez 78th and Noel Martín 80th. Not the best of days, but for a young team like Orbea it's not always the results that matter.

Llodio fiasco

Euskaltel had an off-day in yesterday's one-day race Gran Premio Llodio. Disappointing and at the same time surprising given the strength of the team. Best placed rider turned out to be Beñat who was a lowly 26th, coming in with a group 50 seconds down on winner Vicioso. Koldo did quite well to come home 37th in his first race back, 1:49 down, while Jorge, Romain and the Gorkas all came in among the last eight riders, all more than 9 minutes adrift. Not good. It wasn't all doom and gloom though. Gorka deserves praise for his breakaway effort during most of the race, while Koldo looked quite good as well.

As for Orbea, Mikel Landa, who wasn't originally slated for the race in the first place, proved to be their best man once again, coming in 29th, 56 seconds back. In 28th was former Euskaltel-rider Aketza Peña who's this year racing for Caja Rural. Jon Izagirre was an okay 34th, 1:06 down, while Beñat Urain came across the line in 44th place, 2:11 down. The rest of the guys all abandoned.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Orbea for Rioja

Orbea will start the Vuelta a la Rioja tomorrow with the following eight riders: Adrián Sáez de Arregi, Jon Aberasturi, Beñat Urain, Mikel Ilundain, Noel Martín, Andoni Blázquez, Joseba Larralde and Aritz Etxebarria. Given that strong-men Mikel Landa and Jon Izagirre won't be present they'll probably find it hard to mix it up on the climbs and on GC, but look out for them in the breaks as always and for Aberasturi in the sprints. Ilundain seems to be going pretty well these days so he might be one to keep and eye on as well.

Iván escapes serious injury

Iván will not be sidelined for too long after his bad crash in the closing stages of the Fléche Wallonne on Wednesday. He was taken back home to Spain yesterday and underwent an examination to determine the graveness of the injuries sustained. Luckily it's not that bad. He'll only have to sit out 10 to 15 days of riding, so he should be back competing before too long.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Llodio and Rioja line-ups

Koldo will, as I wrote earlier, take part in tomorrow's GP Llodio. But the start list I gave you wasn't 100% correct. But it was pretty close. The team will field 10 riders, those being: Koldo, Gorka, Gorka, Romain, Beñat, Miguel, Jorge, Pablo, Javier and Jonathan. Samu won the race last year, so look out for Koldo, Pablo and Beñat trying to defend the title. The exact same riders, except for Gorka Verdugo and Koldo, will line up the next day for the start of the Vuelt a la Rioja. Beñat is said to be the captain for the race and, given his form at present, a win could be within his reach.

Koldo back for Llodio

Koldo will be back competing earlier than expected after making a full recovery from his ear problems. It was anticipated he'd be back for the Tour de Romandie at the end of the month, but instead he'll line up for tomorrow's GP Llodio. That's good news. According to the man himself he spent 15 days off the biks, but still maintains his form "is not gone". Lining up alongside Koldo will be Beñat, Romain, Pablo, Javier, Mikel, the Gorkas and Jorge. Or something resembling that line-up at least. Looks like a competitive bunch of riders to me.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Igor 4th in Fléche

Igor grabbed a fantastic, though slightly annoying, 4th place in today's Fléche Wallonne. Annyoing first of all because a fourth place is always annoying, but even more so because I may have said something along the lines of "Igor not suited to small, steep climbs" and "Igor better on longer hills" just recently. My bad, you really shouldn't listen to me, I'm always too sceptical and negative. Anyway, over to the 'fantastic' part. Awesome race by Fuji. Went on the attack inside the last kilometre and only Contador could keep up. One could always argue he went to early, but nonetheless a magnificent ride by him. He'll for sure be one to watch on Sunday. And though a fourth place is annoying, it's still mightily impressive to beat guys like Cunego, Valverde, Gilbert and Schleck. On the negative side was the serious crash by Iván with five clicks to go. That looked bad, and apparently he damaged his D8 vertebrae. Not good, especially considering he's in the form of his life. More on his injury later. As for the rest of the guys, JJ was 54th, Iñaki 63rd, Egoi 88th, Alan 91st and Mikel 131st. Aitor Galdós failed to finish.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Igor joins in for Fleche

Igor will join the team for tomorrow's Fleche Wallonne. The diminutive climber has been displaying excellent form of late and will no doubt be a big reinforcement for the team. With him in the ranks the team has finally got a realistic hope of placing a rider on the podium. Joining Igor will be the seven riders that did Amstel on Sunday, namely Egoi, Iñaki, Gorka, Alán, JJ, Aitor Galdós and Mikel. Sports director for the race, Gorka Gerrikagoitia, expressed his delight at Igor's inclusion and reiterated the team's goal of getting a rider on the podium, admitting that it'd be "very difficult, but not impossible."

Monday, April 19, 2010

Naturgas close

Naturgas continued their strong start to the season this weekend with strong performances in the GP Estella on Saturday and the Clásica de Durana on Sunday. On Saturday the team came second in the team rankings and placed the ever-strong Fernando Grijalba in 5th and Pello Bilbao in 6th. Carlos Barbero and Mikel Bizkarra made it into the break of the day to make it a strong all-round performance by the team. On Sunday the youngsters weren't quite in the mix, but still notched a 13th and 16th place courtesy of Pello Bilbao and Mikel Bizkarra respectively.

Igor claims 2nd overall in VCL

As expected, Igor hung on to his second place overall in today's final stage of Castilla y León. The stage came down to the anticipated bunch-sprint, in which Pablo Urtasun once again showed impressive form to claim 5th. So a third, a fourth and a fifth on stages for Pablo in this race. Way to go Pablo! Igor himself claimed 15th on the stage, while the rest of the guys came in in small group behind the pack after working tirelessly for their leader today as well. Jorge was 90th at 3:47 back, while Javier and Miguel came in 7:01 back and Jonathan a further two seconds back. These results leave us with the following overall:

  • 2nd, Igor Antón
  • 63rd, Javier Aramendía
  • 65th, Pablo Urtasun
  • 66th, Miguel Mínguez
  • 88th, Jorge Azanza
  • 98th, Jonathan Castroviejo

Euskaltel no-show in Amstel

Euskaltel put on their traditional weak performance in the Amstel Gold race today. None of the riders managed to get into any breaks or being up there when the going got tough. Egoi was the best of the guys with a 30th place, while JJ was 43rd, Iñaki 46th, Mikel 51st and Iván 69th. Aitor Galdós and Alan didn't complete the race. Euskaltel's website blamed the poor performance on fatigue accumulated driving all the way from Spain yesterday. Obviously that's a hinderence, but so too did a lot of the other teams. Let's hope for a better showing on wednesday.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Eyjafjallajökull keeps Sergio out of Amstel

The closure of the European airspace has resulted in a lot of teams struggling to get their riders to Maastricht, Netherlands in time to take part in today's Amstel Gold Race. A lot of teams have been forced to start with fewer than eight riders, Euskaltel being one of them. Sergio didn't make it to the Netherlands and thus Euskaltel will have seven men on the start-line today. Those are Egoi, Gorka, Mikel, JJ, Iñaki, Aitor Galdós and Iván.

Igor third in time trial

Would you believe it? Igor placed an awesome THIRD in yesterday's ITT in the Vuelta a Castilla y León. Naturally Contador won and is now the overall leader, but second overall is not bad either for Igor. Another Euskaltel rider doing a good job was Jonathan who once again showed he's got the skills against the clock, placing 16th. Pablo was 27th, 1:59 down, Jorge 37th, 2:20 down, Miguel 50th, 2:34 down and Javier was 85th, 3:33 back. Good overall performance resulting in third on the stage for the team. Not bad.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

'Fuji' pleased with win

Igor, or 'Fuji' as he's affectionately known, was naturally pleased with his awesome effort in yesterday's stage 3 of the Castilla y León which he went on to win ahead of Soler and Contador. Here's excerpts of what he said to the team's website after the stage: "I'm very pleased with the stage we did and the tangible result we got to show for it. It's an important win. I felt in good in Amorebieta (last Sunday), I attacked to win the race but there's was something missing. This time I managed to pull it off. You don't get a lot of chances to win, so you have to take them as they come along. To win on the Morredero is very difficult. It's a climb you have to know, and the rivals were of a high level; Contador, Mosquera, Soler... It was difficult to surprise them, they're all experienced riders, but I knew how to play my cards. I remained calm and attacked to win. I had nothing left and I'm very satisfied."

Igor climbs to big win

Igor showed what he's made of when he distanced big-name climbers Contador, Mosquera and Soler to claim the third stage of the Vuelta a Castilla y León yesterday. It was the team's third win in 9 days, so finally luck seems to be on the team's side after a luckless start to the season. It was a brilliant performance from, not only Igor, but from the whole team. Javier and Jorge both went on the attack and spent a lot of time up the road in breaks. Once both of them had been caught, the team set about driving the pace at the head of the peloton leading into the final climb, the Alto de Morredero. A leading quartet quickly formed containing Igor, Mosquera, Contador and Soler. Igor looked strong all the way and put in a powerful surge with 1,5 kilometres to go which not even the great Contador could find an answer to. Eventually Igor finished 13 seconds ahead of the trio and now leads the overall with the same margin. An important win for the young climber who was once touted as the next big thing in world cycling. Maybe this win is the sign of things to come from the diminutive escalador.

Naturally the other Euskaltel guys were exhausted after doing a phenomenal job all day long. Javier and Miguel Mínguez came in 15:10 down, while Jorge, Pablo and Jonathan all came in more than 25 minutes back.

Orbea put on quite a decent showing as well, attacking at will and being in the thick of the action. Ricardo García, Andoni Blázquez and Mikel Landa all jumped out of the peloton at various times to try and cause an upset. Obviously they didn't succeed, but they're really making their presence felt in the race. Landa eventually came in 27th, 5:31 down, Izagirre Jr. 40th, 10:46 down, Andoni Blázquez 62nd, 15:36 down, García 64th, 18:42 back, Mikel Ilundain, Adrián Sáez de Arregi, Xabier Zabalo and Beñat Urain 25:02 back.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Amstel line-up

Euskaltel will send the following eight riders to Amstel Gold on Sunday: Egoi, Iván, Mikel, Iñaki, Sergio, Aitor Galdós, Alan and JJ. A strong all-round team, but none of them are likely to be up there when the going gets real tough on the Cauberg, except for Aitor maybe, so they'll probably look to get into breaks.

Naturgas ready for Estella and Durana

Naturgas Energía will look to preserve Fernando Grijalba's overall lead in the Torneo Sub23 this weekend. First up is the Clásica de Estella. "It's a very important race for us", director Aritz Arberas said. "We won with Fernando (pictured above) three weeks ago, and we want to do the same in the Basílica del Puy." The line-up: Carlos Barbero, Alberto Guinea, Pello Bilbao, Andoni Sánchez, Alfonso Sáiz, Igor Merino, David Hidalgo, Fernando Grijalba, Aitor Ocampos, Mikel Bizkarra, Rory Martínez and Jon Larriñaga.

On Sunday the guys in red will take part in the GP de Durana with these riders: Andoni Sánchez, Álex and Pello Bilbao, Rory Martínez, Unai Martínez, David Hidalgo, Alfonso Sáiz, Urtzi Legarra, Mikel Bizkarra, Igor Merino, Mikel Martioda and Aitor Ocampos.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

VCL stage 2: Gorka out, Pablo 4th

The second stage of the Vuelta a Castilla y León proved to be a hectic one for the team. It started off even before the stage got underway as Gorka decided to pull out of the race due to strong stomach pains. Too bad, he's a quality rider, but he'll probably be back riding before you know it. With 20 clicks to go, after the customary breaks had been caught, the peloton split, leaving a 22-man strong group at the head of the race. Igor and some of the other guys were perfectly placed and got into the group, but somehow Igor managed to crash out of it soon afterwards. Thanks to a concerted and impressive effort from the team though, he managed to get back up to the leading peloton. It came down to the anticipated sprint, and Pablo was once again right in there grabbing 4th. Good ride from him. Jorge, Jonathan and Miguel came in with another group 2:51 back, totally exhausted after giving their all for their captain.

No Samu for Amstel?

According to, nope. The website has listed Sergio, Aitor Galdós, JJ, Alan, Iván, Iñaki, Egoi and Gorka as participants. But I'm far from sure that'll be the eventual line-up. Sergio is suffering from injuries sustained in Belgium. So too is Aitor Galdós. JJ, Alan, Iván, Egoi, Gorka and Iñaki all seem like reasonable picks, but the obvious one missing is Samu. Perhaps he'll save it for Fleche and Liège, who knows? More on the line-up later this week.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Pablo 3rd; Sesma crashes out

The Vuelta a Castilla y León got underway today with an undulating 157,7-kilometre ride from Belorado to Burgos. It didn't start off too well for poor Daniel Sesma though, the youngster crashing out of the race with 25 kilometres to go. Daniel hurt his hip, ribs and elbow and was immediately taken to a nearby hospital. More news on his injury as soon as it comes through. The customary break got reeled in of course, and it was all set for a sprint finish. Bos took the win while Pablo placed an excellent third. Javier Aramendía placed 9th, continuing his rich vein of form. All the guys, except for Jonathan and Gorka, came in with the peloton. The two came in 4:05 down after finding the pace a tad too high.

Mikel Ilundain was once again the man to put Orbea on the screen with his breakaway attempt. Mikel got away with Chuzda after 94 kilometres of racing after the original break had been caught. Sadly though he had to let go with 17 clicks to go, but still a good effort from the youngster. Mikel Landa, Ricardo García, Jon Izagirre and Andoni Blázquez all came in with the main pack, while Xabier Zabalo ended up a minute and two seconds down, Ilundain 1:33, and Beñat Urain and Adrián Saez de Arregi 4:05 back.

Koldo good to go

Koldo has been given the all-clear to return to racing after his ear infection. The sprinter, who's still winless this year, had to pull out of the Classics, but will be back on the bike come the Tour de Romandie in two weeks time-

Igor to lead Castilla y León charge

Euskaltel will line up today for the start of the Vuelta a Castilla y León with the following riders: Igor, Pablo, Javier, Gorka, Jonathan, Jorge, Daniel and Miguel. "Out goal is to be in the mix when the stages will be disputed, to get into breaks and to place Igor Antón high on the GC", said director Alvaro González de Galdeano. The race contains five stages, ending on Sunday.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Naturgas aggressive in Beasain

Naturgas was once again in the thick of the action Saturday's race in Beasain. Though none of the red-clad riders managed to sneak away with the win, it wasn't for the lack of trying. Four of the guys made it into the main break of the day. Mikel Bizkarra was right up there at the end, but had to settle for 8th place. Pello Bilbao got 6th, while Jon Larriñaga ended up 21st. Aritz Arberas, the sports director, was a happy man afterwards, and wanted to emphasize the work done by the said Larriñaga and Aitor Ocampos who both spent more than 100 kilometres in the break.

Orbea gearing up for Castilla y León

Orbea will, like Euskaltel, take part in the Vuelta a Castilla y León, running from the coming Wedneday until Sunday. The team will send nine riders to the big event and, in alphabetical order, those will be Jon Aberasturi, Andoni Blázquez, Ricardo García, Mikel Ilundain, Jon Izagirre, Mikel Landa, Adrián Sáez de Arregi, Beñat Urain and Xabier Zabalo. "We want to do well in this race, as riders like Contador and Anton will be there", said Álex Díaz. "It'll be complicated and hard, but we'll do our best".

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Euskaltel go one-two in Amorebieta

Euskaltel once again put on a magnificent show to claim both the win and the second place in today's Clásica Primavera Amorebieta. In a brilliant display of team-work Samu grabbed the win ahead of Igor and Fränk Schleck. Samu attacked near the end of the very last climb after Igor had tried his luck with a powerful surge a few clicks earlier. Igor looked to had it sewn up with his swashbuckling attack, but just couldn't sustain it 'till the very end. Samu, though, could. Samu eventually finished five seconds clear of a small group of chasers led home by Igor. Brilliant. Egoi also showed good form coming in 9th in the same group as Igor. Beñat also showed his form is still intact, coming in 20th, just eight seconds down. JJ finished 48th, Iván 77th, Rubén 78th and Jorge 84th. Jorge rode really well though, getting into the break of the day and winning the mountains jersey. Awesome ride. Afterwards Samu showed just what a nice guy he is by dedicating the win to Amets. Great rider and a great man.

Orbea had a fairly quiet day results-wise, but did manage to sneak Mikel Ilundain into the main break. Andoni Blázquez was the highest-placed finisher in 33rd, 1:11 back. Mikel Landa was in that same group, while Xabier Zabalo was 57th, Ricardo García 61st, Jon Izagirre 62nd, Beñat Urain 81st and Mikel Ilundain 96th.

Iñaki aggressive on the pavé

Iñaki performed admirably to get into the break of the day in today's Paris-Roubaix. He got away with 18 others after an hour or so of racing, but of course the break didn't last. Iñaki eventually finished 59th; the only Euskaltel rider to reach the finish-line today.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

"I'm on a cloud"

Beñat was naturally ecstatic after finishing on the podium in the Vuelta al País Vasco. Here's what the guy had to say afterwards: "The truth is that I'm on a cloud. To be on the podium in the Vuelta al País Vasco is a dream. Many of the best riders in the world are here and I've been elbow to elbow with them. I'm 24 years old, and I have to go step by step, with calmness. Today's ITT was very good for me. I was given references from Samu and noticed I had good splits. I arrived at this race with good form, I was feeling good already in the Critérium International, but I had respect for this race. It's one of the hardest in the world. Even so, I've managed to be with the best every day and finish on the podium. It's a great triumph for me. I want to dedicate this win to Miguel, to Igor and to all my team-mates. They supported me all the time, and without them this wouldn't be possible. A special dedication goes out to a relative of mine who's a patient, I hope this win will raise his spirits."

Beñat on the podium!

Beñat rode a blistering time trial to finish third overall in the Vuelta al País Vasco earlier today. What a performance from the youngster! Beñat had to overtake both Joaquím Rodríguez and French time trial champion Jean-Christophe Peraud on the last day to grab the last podium place, and did so with aplomb, placing 5th on the stage, just 21 seconds back on winner Horner. Awesome ride from the 'new Ibán' who's finally starting to transform talent into results. Samu was also excellent today, grabbing 6th and thus a good 8th overall. And 2nd in the Points Classification by the way. Not so bad after all, eh? Egoi was 30th, and received the 'Most Combative Rider'-prize after the stage. As always he's been aggressive, and he thouroughly deserved the accolade. In addition he ended up 3rd in the Sprint Classification. JJ was 48th, Iván 61st, Rubén 82nd and Alan 97th. Third in the Teams Classification on the day and overall. All in all a very good day. Here's the final GC:

  • 3rd, Beñat Intxausti
  • 8th, Samuel Sánchez
  • 18th, Iván Velasco
  • 44th, Egoi Martínez
  • 48th, Juan José Oroz
  • 71st, Rubén Pérez
  • 106th, Alan Pérez

Galdós out of Roubaix

Aitor Galdós will NOT take part in tomorrow's Paris-Roubaix. Aitor would normally be one of Euskaltel's strongest men on the pavé, but the injuries sustained in the Scheldeprijs will keep him out of the action. He was reportedly feeling better today, but still it wasn't enough.

On a brigther note, Sergio De Lis WILL take to the line tomorrow. The rider is suffering from a bad hip but will start, though he's not in top shape according to director Josu Larrazabal.

Line-up: Sergio, Pablo, Romain, Jonathan, Javier, Iñaki and Gorka.

Star-studded line-up for Amorebieta

Euskaltel will send one of it's strongest teams to tomorrow's Clásica Primavera Amorebieta. The team will fiels Samu, Igor, Beñat, Egoi, JJ, Mikel, Iván, Rubén, Jorge and Miguel Mínguez. Several of these riders seem to be at the top of their game these days, so it might be a good day.

Amets pulls out

Amets was sadly forced to pull out off the País Vasco before the start today due to his collarbone fracture. It was hoped that leader of the mountains jersey would be able to overcome the pain and ride the ITT, but it wasn't to be. It's reportedly a clean fracture, so he'll be looking to be back in competition towards the end of next month.

Amets breaks collarbone

It was confirmed late last night that Amets indeed had broken his right collarbone in the crash that took him down while in the lead. He might still take part in the ITT though, as he's desperate to take home the climber's jersey. If he was to complete today's race against the clock with a fractured collarbone I'd be mightily impressed.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Naturgas ready for big weekend

Naturgas will take part in two races this weekend. The first one is Saturday's Circuito de Pascuas, for which Aritz Arberas has selected the following riders: Jon Larrinaga, Mikel Martioda, Unai Martínez, Carlos Barbero, David Hidalgo, Alfonso Saiz, Aitor Ocampos, Rory Martínez, Alex Bilbao and Andoni Sánchez.

On Sunday Jon Larrinaga, Aitor Ocampos, Fernando Grijalba, Mikel Bizkarra, Pello Bilbao, Alberto Guinea, Igor Merino and Urtzi Legarra will line up for the Clásica de Beasain. Watch our for these guys, they seem to be on fire these days.

Amets reflects

After crashing out of the lead on today's fifth stage, Amets was left to rue the missed opportunity of grabbing his very first professional win. "The truth is I'm both hurt and angry", he said after the stage. "It was a good opportunity to do something great. I felt very good and I wasn't taking any risks. I knew I had to descend quickly, I was in the lead trying to win, but in the end it was all worthwile. Now I'm afraid of what the tests (at the hospital) will show. I'd be devastated to lose the jersey due to a fall." So would we Amets. Fingers crossed.

Samu 2nd while Amets crashes

It was once again an eventful day for the team in today's fifth stage of the País Vasco. It started off with Amets and Egoi, yes, those two once again, making it into the break of the day. The duo looked strong, especially so Amets who grabbed more than enough mountain points underway to secure the climber's jersey. Big achievement! With 20 clicks to go the group broke up, with Amets proving the strongest, distancing the rest of the guys. But once in front, he crashed and was passed by eventual winner Rodríguez, Efimkin and Navarro. Luckily he got up again and completed the race, but still it was a major opportunity lost for the diminutive climber. He hurt his right collarbone and was taken to hospital straight after crossing the line to find out whether it's a fracture or just a bruising. Once Rodríguez was alone up front the chasing started. Euskaltel did some good work to reel him in, but it wasn't enough. Samu eventually led home the trio of himself, Valverde and Horner for second place 14 seconds down. Beñat came in with a select group six seconds later to hang on to his fifth place going in to tomorrow's concluding ITT. Iván had another good ride and came home 21st, 1:06 down. Rubén, Egoi, JJ, Alan and Amets all came in way back, more than 7 minutes in arrears. Overall though a very good team performance. Beñat is just two riders and four seconds off the podium, so watch out for him tomorrow. And, of course, watch out for Samu. He'll win it. Watch this space.

Orbea for Amorebieta

Orbea will line up for Sunday's big one-day local race the Clasica Primavera Amorebieta with high expectations following their recent strong showings. The team will consist of Mikel Landa, Jon Izagirre, Jon Aberasturi, Adrián Sáez de Arregi, Noel Martín, Mikel Ilundain, Ricardo García, Andoni Blázquez, Xabier Zabalo and Beñat Urain. "This is a classic we have to do well in since it's on home soil", said Orbea head Álex Díaz. "We'll fight. Our main goal is to give an united image of the team and to learn of important races like this. Many teams will take part and it's vital we perform. It's very important to know how to race in situations like these. We're a young team, a renewed team, with a lot of desire, so we'll use this occasion to acquire experience and let ourselves be seen".

Thursday, April 08, 2010

"A very importan win"

Samu was naturally all smiles after giving the team it's first win of the season. "It's a very important vitcory, both for me and the team", he said. "The Vuelta al País Vasco is always one of the main goals each year, and I've been preparing for this race since November. The team worked so hard, so it's really good to cap it off with the win. It was a very emotional win, in a stage like this, atop the Arrate, one of our supporters' favourite climb. Great champions have won here and I succeed Contador. I'm proud to win here."

Amets happy at 'deserved' win

Amets captured the climber's jersey in today's fourth stage of the Vuelta al País Vasco, and, holding a lead of 31 points on number two in that particular competition, is likely to win the jersey overall in two days time. But speaking after the stage, he was more eager to speak about the team's win than his own great ride. "We worked like a real team and obtained a much-desvered win", he said. "In addition we grabbed the mountains jersey. It's always important to be on the podium, even more so when on home soil. It was very exciting to be in the break going through my home-town in a race like the Vuelta al País Vasco, with all my friends lined up along the road... I think we've worked hard these four days, and it's important to recognise the fact that Euskaltel Euskadi have been on the front all the time in a race of the highest level. Let's hope we can keep the jersey and stand atop the podium in Orio".


web site counter
ISP Internet Providers