Monday, June 28, 2010
Euskaltel today held their annual gathering, or ceremony, call it what you like, ahead of their departure for France. Present at the Parque Tecnológico de Zamudio in Bizkaia was Euskaltel president José Antonio Ardanza, Deputy General of Bizkaia, José Luis Bilbao, an advisor from the cultural department of the Basque Government called Blanca Urgell, Miguel Madariaga, who needs no further introduction, and all the riders of course. Also present was Mikel Trueba, a young man suffering from ELA, who'll do a blog on his Tour experience with the team. During the ceremony, all riders were given a blessing from the rector de la basílica of Begoña, the aptly-named Jesus Garitaonaindia.
Euskaltel have finally gotten their own song! Marking the 10-year anniversary of consecutive Tour de France appearances, the team got EtxE, reportedly a famous artist in Spain, to write an "upbeat song in Basque that pays tribute to the team's fans". Euskaltel's local fans, affectionately known as the Orange Wave, have for 16 years backed their team through days of glory and days of despair, and this is the Fundación's way of saying thank you. It's hoped this song will become the team's and fans' song alike.
Naturgas will send a 14-man team to today's one-day race in the Rioja region, the Clásica de Haro. Chief Arberas' chosen men are: Aitor Ocampos, Igor Merino, David Hidalgo, Mikel Martioda, Efrén Carazo, Urtzi Legarra, Álex Bilbao, Alfonso Saiz, Jon Larrinaga, Carlos Barbero, Unai Martínez, Rory Martínez and Alberto Guinea. Due to the race's hilly closing kilometres, look for Barbero, Guinea and Bilbao in particular to post strong results.
Sunday, June 27, 2010
Friday, June 25, 2010
Jonathan today powered to a good fifth place in the Spanish National Championship Time Trial. The youngster ended up a minute and a half down on expected winner LL Sánchez, while Euskaltel's other representative, Aitor H, placed a disappointing 19th. Jonathan placed sixth last year, so at least he's on the right way. Speaking after the race, he said: "The crono was too flat for me. But I didn't really feel bad, I was just a little clumsy in the first part".
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Romain put in a slightly disappointing ride in the French National Champs time trial today. The 22-year-old could only muster the 25th best time over the 49 kilometres, but given it's only his second ever TT over that kind of distance, I guess it's not too bad. As long as he's learning it's all good.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Euskaltel will send a disappointing number of riders to the Spanish National Championships in Albacete the coming week-end. Only two riders, that being Jonathan and Aitor Hernández, will take part in the time trial champs on Friday over a taxing 36,2 kilometres. With Euskaltel's well-documented struggles in the discipline, why don't they ever send more riders to the race? It would be good practice, and some of them could easily grab top 10 placings. As for the road race, 14 riders will line up. Of those 14, Igor and Beñat are the two most likely to be in the mix for the jersey due to the hilly parcours of the race. Alongside the duo will be Egoi, Gorka, Koldo, Amets, Miguel, Pablo, Alan, Rubén, Iñaki, Aitor Galdós as well as Jonathan and Aitor H.
Gladly Romain will do the road race as well as the time trial in Chantonnay, France. Given that he's all alone against big French teams desperate for the added attention the Tricolour-jersey brings them, the odds are fairly stacked against Romain in the road race. But then again Romain is no stranger to beating the odds. Watch this space.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Naturgas riders Pello Bilbao, Aitor Ocampos, Mikel Bizkarra and Igor Merino will all form part of the eight-man Basque team chosen to take part in Saturday's Under-23 Spanish National Championship Road Race. The quartet have been showing good form all year and will line up alongside Seguros Bilbao duo Omar Fraile and Ibai Salas, as well as Bidelan-Kirolgi duo Unai Iparragirre and Haritz Orbe. Igor Merino will also take part in the time trial champs a day later.
Posted by Magnus at Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Monday, June 21, 2010
Rouleur Jon Larriñaga got into the right break in Saturday's race in Trucíos, the XXIV Premio la Trinidad, and grabbed a fine second place at the finish. Puncheur Fernando Grijalba, who's enjoying a stand-out season, was in the same race-deciding break as Jon, but had to pull out due to stomach pains. Igor Merino continued to display his good state of form by grabbing a good fourth place, while Efrén Carazo was 17th and David Hidalgo 21st. Naturgas placed second to Beloki and J Gorospe's formidable Seguros Bilbao outfit in the team rankings.
Sunday's race in Burgos didn't go just as well. The whole team was up there looking good for a win, but in the end had to settle for a sixth place for Alberto Guinea.
Jonathan showed strength and talent in equal doses to grab a mightily-impressive 12th place on today's last stage in the Tour de Suisse; a 26,9 kilometre individual race against the clock. Jonathan has been riding strongly all week and gave further proof he's one to be counted on for the big races in years to come. His 12th place today, ahead of such illustrious time trial names as Hushovd, Hincapie, Kreuziger and LL Sánchez to name a few, meant he kept hold of his good 24th place on GC. JJ did reasonably well to claim 33rd place and thus 28th overall, while Amets was 71st (41st overall), Pablo was 77th (64th overall), Aitor 100th (114th overall), and Javier ended up 104th today and 81st on GC. Finally Euskaltel were ranked ninth overall in the teams classification. Not bad, now for the Tour...
Sunday, June 20, 2010
Saturday, June 19, 2010
Posted by Magnus at Saturday, June 19, 2010
Naturgas will as usual send teams to two races this weekend. The impressive team in red will have to make do without possibly their three strongest riders, though, as Pello Bilbao, Aitor Ocampos and Mikel Bizkarra are, or in Aitor's case was, competing in the Baby Giro. Still their line-ups look good on paper at least.
Team for Saturday's Clásica de Trucíos: Rory Martínez, David Hidalgo, Álex Bilbao, Fernando Grijalba, Alberto Guinea, Mikel Martioda, Unai Martínez, Carlos Barbero, Igor Merino, Jon Larriñaga and Efrén Carazo.
Team for Sunday's GP de Burgos: Rory Martínez, Álex Bilbao, Carlos Barbero, Igor Merino, Fernando Grijalba, Alfonso Sáiz, Urtzi Legarra, Alberto Guinea, Unai Martínez, Andoni Sánchez, Efrén Carazo, David Hidalgo and Jon Larriñaga.
Saturday's race is one for the punchy riders as the last three kilometres are all uphill. The climb reaches a leg-breaking 20% gradient close to the line. Look for Grijalba and Barbero in particular to do well here. The race in Burgos is the opposite in terms of parcours, so watch out for fast-finishers like Legarra and Barbero or rouleurs like Merino and Larriñaga to leave their mark on the event.
Posted by Magnus at Saturday, June 19, 2010
Friday, June 18, 2010
Today's rather flat seventh stage in the Tour de Suisse saw Daniel in the thick of the action. Together with 15 others he managed to build up a solid lead over the pack, but when the pace was upped inside the last 60 kilometres as rider after rider attacked his breakaway companions, Daniel couldn't keep up and went out the back. Eventually he was reeled in by the peloton and crossed the line exactly five minutes down on winner Burghardt together with Amets, JJ and Jonathan. Javier and Pablo came in 8:55 down, while Aitor H rolled in a massive 13:29 back.
Posted by Magnus at Friday, June 18, 2010
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Euskaltel were at their aggressive best and really put their mark on today's queen-stage in the Tour de Suisse, but in the end they came up short. As I had hoped before the stage, both Amets and JJ made it into the break of the day along with eleven other strong riders. Several cols were on the menu today, and as a consequence a rider in the break, namely Wouter Poels of Vacansoleil, took over the mountains jersey due to the big amount of points on offer. Aitor Hernández is now ranked fourth in that particular competition, but there's still some stages to go so he might still try to to get in a break or two to give it a shot at reclaiming it. Due to some selfless and clever riding by JJ, Javier is still in possession of the blue intermediate sprint jersey. Mathias Frank of BMC would have snatched it from him had he taken first in both sprints today. The first one he got. The second one he though he got. But just when he started to slow down some 50 metres from the 'line', thinking he had it won, JJ came flying past him to just nip the six points on the line and thus making sure Javier still leads that competition. Frank was furious at JJ, gesticulating wildly. Well, it's a bike race, isn't it Frank? This isn't some charity event, and JJ was well in his right to defend his team-mate's jersey. Bravo JJ! On the last, huge climb, with it's summit situated at about 13 clicks from the line, the leading group, including Amets and JJ, split up. JJ had launched an attack earlier on and was soon on his way back to the peloton, but Amets, together with the ever-green Garate, proved to be the strongest. After catching the impressive Brice Feillu and going straight past him in an instance, the Spanish duo soldiered on alone until Gesink, the eventual stage winner, caught and passed them with some 4 kilometres to go 'til the top. Amets tried to stay with Gesink, Schleck and co. but naturally found the tempo too hot to handle and started drifting backwards. Jonathan, who occupied ninth on GC going into the stage, suffered the misfortune of puncturing while in the select group of favourites on the last climb. He had to make do with his flatted wheel for a while before getting a new one due to the obvious problem of getting the support car up to him, and as a consequence wasted a lot of energy just trying to cling on. Eventually he went too far into the red zone and went out the back, but the neo-pro still showed impressive form by crossing the finish-line in 26th place, no more than 6:40 down. That's not too bad for a young newbie in a race of this calibre, is it? Amets came in exactly two minutes and forty seconds ahead of Jonathan in 22nd place, while JJ lost a big chunk of time towards the end and placed 35th, 8:21 down. Javier, Aitor and Pablo came in side by side 22:51 adrift, while Daniel ended up 25:11 back. Koldo found the going too tough at the start and pulled out of the race alltogether.
Posted by Magnus at Thursday, June 17, 2010
Naturgas due Mikel Bizkarra and Pello Bilbao were back in action in Italy today after yesterday's rest-day. On the menu today for the duo, along with their Basque Elite category riders Romero, Filgueirea and Artola, was a pancake-flat trek from Castelfranco Emilia to Cesenatico, home of the one and only Marco Pantani. Given the parcours one would expect the peloton to stay together and sprint it out for the wind, but not so much in this year's Baby Giro. Paolo Locatelli escaped solo to grab the biggest win of his career whilst the pack split up into several pieces behind. After showing encouraging signs in the mountains the last few days, I hoped Mikel and Pello might be able to stay with the front-runners on the flats as well. That wasn't to be, though, as Mikel, along with Artola and Filgueirea, came in 1:17 back, while Pello struggled home 2:08 down. Igor Romero did a lot better by taking 12th, so good on him. Six stages down, three to go.
Posted by Magnus at Thursday, June 17, 2010
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Posted by Magnus at Wednesday, June 16, 2010
On a hectid day in the Tour de Suisse, Aitor Hernández accomplished what he sat out to do: reclaiming the climbers jersey. The tenacious Aitor, who's finding his form at just the right time this year, started the stage only 1 point down on Pliuschin. Intent on taking it back, the whole team took control of the peloton in the last 30 kilometres to set Aitor up perfectly for the two climbs. The tactic proved successful as Aitor grabbed second place on the first time up the Regensberg behing Brice Feillu, who isn't, at least not yet, a danger in that particular aspect. Amets did a great job to squeeze ahead of Pliuschin to take third, meaning Aitor now leads the ranking by a single point. That's what team-work is all about. In the sprint for the win Pablo was, surprisingly, nowhere to be seen. But that was probably a blessing in disguise as Cavendish's reckless riding caused a big pile-up with 100 metres to go. Cav, Haussler, Boonen, Ciolek, Coyot and a few others crashed spectacularly in sight of the line, resulting in Petacchi surprisingly, and unwillingly it looked, taking stage honours. Pablo, JJ, Amets and, most importantly, Jonathan all came in with the peloton, meaning he's still ninth overall. Aitor, Koldo, Javier and Daniel all came in between 7 and 9 minutes down.
Posted by Magnus at Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
The Circuito Montañés came to a close today with the seventh and final stage from Potes to Santander. The promising Victor De La Parte took out the win, while Orbea once again struggled to leave their mark on the race. This time, though, all of them came in with the pack except for Andoni Blázquez who finished 4:03 down in third-to-last place. On GC Mikel Landa finished 22nd, a tad disappointing for him no doubt, Xabier Zabalo 35th, Andoni Blázquez 56th, Beñat Urain 69th and Ricardo García ended up ranked 81st. Orbea finished tenth out of nineteen in the teams classification.
Newly-crowned Euskadi under-23 time trial champion Igor Merino placed a strong third in yesterday's Gran Premio San Antonio in Valle de Mena. The rouleur is in a rich vein of form at the moment, but had to settle for the last place on the podium after Jon Pardo of Seguros Bilbao and Mauricio Muller of Azysa Cetya Conor proved too strong on the day.
Monday, June 14, 2010
Beñat Urain went close to a win on the fifth stage in the Circuito Montañés yesterday. The young all-rounder ended up fourth after fading in the closing kilometres, 2:25 down on Gael Malacarne. Beñat has been riding solidly, if unspectacularly, all year, so this result will no doubt boost his morale facing the rest of the season. Adrián Sáez did not have a good day, though, and threw in the towel. Mikel Landa, Xabier Zabalo and Andoni Blázquez all rolled in with the pack, while Ricardo García felt the fatigue and came in almost half an hour down.
As for today's sixth stage, the toughest stage so far, Orbea didn't really live up to their billing as climbers as Xabier Zabalo and Mikel Landa rolled in together placed 38th and 39th respectively, both 6:34 down on the ever-impressive Niels Albert. Andoni Blázquez was 13:03 down, while Ricardo García and Beñat Urain crossed the line with the last group some 25 minutes adrift.
Jonathan impressed greatly to climb to ninth overall on today's hilly third stage in the Tour de Suisse. The stage included a first category climb and some undulating terrain towards the end of the stage, meaning the pack split up into several pieces. Schleck senior eventually beat Urán to the win, three seconds ahead of a select group of eight riders. Jonathan came in four seconds after that one, in a small group containing names like Lance, Leipheimer, Cancellara, Devolder, Spilak and Rodríguez. Great stuff, climbing with those names is no mean feat at his tender age. JJ was also right up there, coming in alongside Klöden, Schleck Jr. and a few others at 19 seconds. He's where he needs to be for the Tour, looking good. As for the others, Amets and Pablo came in 1:07 down, Javier 2:04, Daniel 6:14 and Koldo and Aitor H 17:59. Sadly Aitor had to let go of his climbers jersey as the four points he scored on today's stage was one single point too few. But he's still in with a good chance of grabbing it back though.
Sunday, June 13, 2010
Pablo showed his great state of form by sprinting to second place behind Heinrich Haussler on today's second stage of the Tour de Suisse. The slightly hilly nature of the course resulted in a 66-man peloton arriving together to sprint it out for the win, a sprint in which Pablo, to his great credit, beat riders like Ciolek, Freire and Rojas to take an impressive second. Pablo has really stepped it up a notch this year. Look out for him in the remaining stages. Jonathan, Javier and JJ all made it in with that first big group, meaning the former now occupies ninth place on GC. Aitor Hernández spent the day out front in the break and secured the mountains jersey, so surely a good day all over for the team. Aitor and Daniel reached the line 3:09 down eventually, while Amets came in a worryingly 5:33 down, while Koldo found the going too tough and condeded 10:57. Pablo was naturally a bit down after the stage, saying: "To win a Pro Tour race would have been awesome. (...) It's a shame..." But he also managed to look on the bright side, saying: "But I feel good, now I'll try to recover as best I can facing the rest of the race."
Saturday, June 12, 2010
Friday, June 11, 2010
Posted by Magnus at Friday, June 11, 2010
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Jon Izagirre sadly abandoned the Circuito Montañés today on the second stage. I didn't get to see the race myself so I'm not really sure why, but I'll bring the news to you as soon as I'll find out. On a brighter note, Mikel Landa took a good ninth place on today's demanding stage. Mikel finished, with Xabier Zabalo and Ricardo García, in the main group behind the four strongest riders; Lelarge, Garcia de Mateo, Higinio Fernández and Iriarte. Adrián Sáez and Andoni Blázquez ended up in a group 13:48 adrift, while Beñat Urain was three minutes further back.
Romain showed glimpses of his undoubted talent by taking an excellent second place on today's first mountain-top finish in the Dauphiné. The 210-kilometre stage ending atop the Risoul saw an aggressive Euskaltel team all day. Early on the climb, Egoi, then Iván, delivered proof they're approaching top form by attacking out of the peloton. None of them managed to sustain their attacks though, and they both drifted backwards after giving it a shot. In a steadily-diminishing group of favourites at the front of the race, Euskaltel still had the impressive Gorka Verdugo and Romain present. Samu, though, was once again gone missing. Anyway, the two others did the team proud. Gorka stayed with the top favourites until two kilometres were left to ride, while Romain went even better. Nicolas Vogondy attacked Contador, Brajkovic and co. with force with 1,5 to go, and Romain soon went after him. It was too little, too late though for the World Champ. Eventually he had to settle for second on the stage, 12 seconds down on Vogondy, but still ahead of Contador and the rest. Amazing riding. Gorka came through in 22nd place, just 55 seconds adrift, and thus keeps hold of his 10th place overall. Iván was 53rd, Egoi 69th, Samu a worryingly 70th, 4:22 down, while Jorge, Alan and Iñaki was 118th, 120th and 124th respectively, all at 12:55. The French prodigy was naturally happy afterwards, saying he was 'a little surprised', but nonetheless 'very happy to be among the best on a stage like this'.
Wednesday, June 09, 2010
Posted by Magnus at Wednesday, June 09, 2010
Posted by Magnus at Wednesday, June 09, 2010