Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year wrap

  • Naturgas Energía prepared for the season ahead with what must be the shortest training camp they've ever done in Derio this week. All the riders, including new French recruits Karl Baudron, Damien Garcia and Loïc Chetout, got together for a two-day camp at Fundación Euskadi headquarters in Derio this Tuesday and Wednesday.
  • Aitor Hernández is going from strength to strength on the 'cross circuit. Yesterday he grabbed his third win of the year in a race in Itsasondo, besting Orbea mountain biker Iñaki Lejarreta and top Spaniard Javier Ruiz de Larriñaga.
  • Not surprisingly, Igor Antón was elected "Athlete of the year" in his home region of Bizkaia here the other day. The merculiar climber beat several top-class athletes across various sports to take home the prize handed out by the Prensa Deportiva de Bizkaia. Euskaltel were also honoured for their much-documented best-ever season, at least numbers-wise, at the Gala del Deporte.
  • Alán Pérez and Juan José Oroz both attended and spoke at a gathering organized by the cycling club in Estella (also known as Lizarra) a couple of days ago, a small town just south of Pamplona. The two riders both hail from the region and were joined by Bizkaia-Durango rider Cristina Alcalde and Joana Eslava of Reyno de Navarra.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Xmas wrap

  • The seven riders that will represent the squad in January's Tour Down Under, plus Koldo Fernández, Amets Txurruka, Jonathan Castroviejo and Romain Sicard, concluded their nine-day Costa Blanca training camp this past Wednesday.
  • Aitor Hernández finished a splendid second in today's Euskadi Cyclo-Cross championships. The soon-to-be former Euskaltel rider was only beaten by Egoitz Murgoitio.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Velasco a go for 2011 Tour

After a successful 2010 debut Tour, Iván Velasco is a dead-cert for the 2011 edition as well. Speaking to the Diario Vasco yesterday, the likeable climber outlined next year's schedule which will look much the same as this year's. "I will start this season as well in Australia", he said of the Tour Down Under. "The temperatures down there are great, it's very good for training and also a good place to start competing. We'll get there in good shape. This year the level was high. It was a fast race, and it's always a group of riders who arrive at the race with good form. The flip side, though, is the trip. It's very long. After Australia I'll go to Mallorca, Clásica Almería, Tirreno-Adriatico, Vuelta al País Vasco, the classics, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Fleche Wallonne, Amstel Gold Race and the Tour de Romandie. Then I'll take some time off before returning to competition in the Dauphiné and then the Tour." Reflecting on the season that just finished, the Gipuzkoan was rather pleased with what he'd achieved. "I think I haven't done too badly. I've taken another step in the right direction and improved in big races like the Vuelta al País Vasco, the Dauphiné and the Tour. I know that I'm here to help the leaders on the climbs towards the end of the races. I have to stay with them (Samuel Sánchez, Igor Antón, Romain Sicard) in the mountains when I'm able to."

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Hernández regional champ

Aitor Hernández, still without a team for next year, was today crowned champion of Vizcaya after winning a race in Lezama. The Ermua native won solo 16 seconds ahead of runner-up Erlantz Uriarte and 56 seconds ahead of Orbea mountain biker Iñaki Lejarreta.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Camp update

Euskaltel have completed day two and three of their Costa Blanca training camp, and the pace and intensity have surely but steadily been upped day by day. So far the temperatures have been rather mild and the sky's been nothing but blue, so no wonder the riders are happy. Day two saw the Down Under team plus an eager Romain Sicard go for a 130km ride, while Koldo Fernández, Amets Txurruka and Jonathan Castroviejo felt a 110 were enough. Yesterday saw all 11 riders complete a four-hour, 130km ride, and today's route will likely consist of several hard climbs to get the Down Under-bound riders in near top condition for the rapidly-approaching start to the 2011 season.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Antón honoured

Igor Antón was yesterday awarded the 'cyclist of the year'-award by local Vizcaya radio station Onda Cero.

As we all know, it was a rollercoaster of a year for the mercurial climber, but speaking at the award ceremony the affable Antón once again reiterated that he's happy overall with the 2010 season. "I will never forget this season, and it's not because of the crash, but because I've been in good form on several occasions, I've won races, I've been at the head of the races when I was feeling good, and all this has boosted my moral. The Vuelta? I remain focused on what I achieved before I had to leave the race".

Galdós close to Caja Rural

Outgoing Euskaltel rider Aitor Galdós might have found a team for next season. The powerful sprinter will take part in Pro Conti team Caja Rural's training camp this week, and it's understood a decision on whether he'll be awarded a contract or not will be made towards the end of weekend.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


  • Aitor Hernández impressively won Sunday's 'cross race in Zeberio. Not only did he win, but he won by quite the margin. Closest follower in second place was Xabier García a full 2:10 back on Euskaltel's climber.
  • Euskaltel's Tour Down Under roster, accompanied by Koldo Fernández, Romain Sicard, Amets Txurruka and Jonathan Castroviejo, arrived at their camp at the Costa Blanca on Monday evening. The 11 riders completed a 100km ride on Tuesday, and the riders will up that distance today. The riders will stay at the camp 'til the 22nd of December.
  • Samu Sánchez has said he's still not made his mind up on whether or not to compete in the trio of Ardennes classics the coming season. "I love the classics", he told "They're historic and prestigious, so it's always a great honour to participate. But I still don't know if I'll take part in 2011".

Sunday, December 12, 2010


  • Aitor Hernández placed a slightly disappointing 16th in Wednesday's Gran Premio Santa Barbara cyclo-cross race. He was a full four minutes adrift of Isaac Suarez.
  • He fared considerably better in yesterday's race in Llodio. He finished second to the inexorable Egoitz Murgoitio, a full 1:14 adrift.
  • Euskaltel stars Jonathan Castroviejo and Iñaki Isasi and Naturgas' stand-out youngster Igor Merino all spent an hour talking to young children about the advantages of riding a bike, either as a means of transport or as a way of training, on Friday at a big gathering about cycling organized by the different cycling clubs in and around the Basque town of Balmaseda.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010


  • Just like Euskaltel did recently, Orbea will stage a team get-together in Derio from the coming Thursday 'til Saturday. It will mainly be a bonding, team-building kind of camp, but it won't be all fun as they'll do two team rides, undergo some medical tests and meet up with the directors to plan for the season ahead. All 13 riders are expected to be present.
  • Aitor Hernández continued his rich vein of form by grabbing 14th in the Asteasuko cyclo-cross event yesterday. The race was full of top-level riders like Nys, Albert and Pauwels, so 14th is not bad. Aitor Galdós also took part, but found the going a little tougher and finished 21st.
  • Euskaltel will indeed be present at the three Grand Tours next year after the major race organisers and the UCI for once managed to broker a deal that guarantees all 18 ProTeams a ride in the World Tour events.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Hernández 2nd again

Aitor Hernández is continuing to make a name for himself on the 'cross scene. Earlier today he grabbed another impressive second place in the Elite race in Igorre, a race being held prior to the World Cup event. Xabier García denied Aitor the top prize, but he's still likely to be pleased with his ride as he finished just ahead of seasoned 'crosser and ex-roadie Unai Yus.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Landa tempted by Giro

20-year-old Mikel Landa is not likely to do a Grand Tour in his maiden season in the Pro Tour, but he admits the thought of doing the Giro alongside heroes and team-mates Mikel Nieve and Igor Antón entices him. In an interview with El Correo here the other day, the newcomer said: "Igor Antón and Mikel Nieve will go to Italy, and to go along would be very good. They are both climbers, just like me, and this year (2011 that is) there will probably be quite a few great mountain stages". Given his age and relative inexperience though, it's highly unlikely, so we shouldn't get too excited. He'll start out with the Mallorca Challenge like the majority of his companions, before he heads of to Andalucía. He might do Murcia after that and maybe his very first Pro Tour race after that again; the Volta a Catalunya. "The idea is that I'll do a calendar that's pretty similar to the one I did this year, but that I'll add in some Pro Tour events so as to acquire some experience and get an understanding of what the level's like." He'll likely compete 50 or 60 days in all in 2011.

Down Under seven head to Alicante

Jon and Gorka Izagirre, Daniel Sesma, Iván Velasco, Rubén Pérez, Iñaki Isasi and Miguel Minguez, the seven riders that will take on the Tour Down Under in January, will all head to Alicante on the Costa Blanca for a 10-day training camp later this month to finalize their preparations for the season-opener. Accompanied by the team's trainer Josu Larrazabal, the seven will head south on the 13th and return two days prior to Christmas Eve. The camp was mainly set-up so that the riders could escape the bad weather of the north and get some kilometres in under more favourable weather-conditions.


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