Monday, February 28, 2011

Samu discards winning Tour

With Contador and Menchov both more than likely not to take part in the Tour de France this year, fans and experts alike have been touting Samu Sánchez as a possible overall winner come July. But Samu is having none of it. And rightly so, I feel. "To win the Tour is too big an ask", he said honestly to el Diario Vasco yesterday. "I know that I can win a Classic, a six-stage race, that I'm quite a complete cyclist, but to win the Tour... Maybe I'm being too cautious, I don't know, but it seems out of reach for me. I don't really like to speak about the Tour. I've done four, and finished two of them. I can't be consider a Tour-rider like Armstrong, Indurain or Alberto. In the ones I've finished, I've been fourth and seventh. I'm turning 33 years old..." Although I'll never say never, I sadly have to agree with Samu on that one. I just can't see it happening. I think the podium is a viable goal, he proved as much last year. Any thoughts?

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Euskaltel anonymous in Almería

Euskaltel went missing in today's Clásica de Almería. The orange-clad riders never really animated the race in any way, despite Mikel Nieve trying (and failing) to get into the break of the day early on, and Rubén Pérez could only muster 13th in the sprint to conclude a sub-par performance. Alan Pérez, Antón, Nieve and Jon Izagirre all finished inside the main bunch, while Castroviejo, Minguez and Landa all abandoned.

It was a better performance from Orbea, though. Victor Cabedo once again spent the day out front, this time with Ventoso and Hoogerland, and showed his pedigree for picking the right time to attack. He also tried to go it alone inside the last 10 clicks, so both thumbs up for him! Adrián Sáez sprinted to a good 15th, while team-mates Urain, Aberasturi, Bilbao, Garcia and Zabalo all rolled in with the peloton. Cabedo finished the day 54 seconds down, not that he would care given his day-long exploits, while Etxebarria ended up 1:18 back.

Naturgas 2nd and 3rd in Soraluze

Naturgas youngsters Igor Merino and Fernando Grijalba went oh so close to securing the team a first win of the season in today's Torneo sub-23 opener in Soraluze. The 118km race ended atop the San Andrés climb and, after attacking along with the Naturgas pair on the steep slopes, Omar Fraile of Seguros Bilbao claimed the win. Fraile distanced the two red-clad riders inside the last two kilometres, eventually finishing 10 seconds ahead of Merino and 21 ahead of Grijalba in third. Superb team performance, and I guess at this stage of their careers that's more important than the results.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Orbea ready for Almería

Orbea will send six riders to tomorrow's one-day Clásica de Almería. Fresh off their impressive outing in Andalucía, the blue team will field Peio Bilbao, Ricardo Garcia, Adrián Sáez, Jon Aberasturi, Aritz Etxebarria and Beñat Urain. According to DS Álex Díaz, who's spoken to the team's website, they'll aim for a secondary classification-jersey, and will generally just try to mix it up with the big guys. Watch out for on-fire Peio Bilbao and Jon Aberasturi to make an impression.

Naturgas open season

Naturgas Energía opened their season today with the Trofeo Euskaldun opener in Zumaia. The Sub-28 series of races saw Iban Leanizbarrutia of the Cespa-Euskadi team sprint to victory in the first race of the year. Carlos Barbero sprinted to a solid 10th place, while Rory Martínez, Efrén Carazo and new signings Karl Baudron and Eduardo Ardaiz all came in with that same group. Fellow new signing Alain González ended up 2:28 back in 108th place. Jon Larrinaga, Álex Bilbao and Aitor Ocampos all started but failed to finish.

The red brigade will race tomorrow as well. On the menu on Sunday is the Torneo Sub-23 opener in Soraluze. Representing the team will be: Damien Garcia, Eduardo Ardaiz, Efrén Carazo, Carlos Barbero, Urtzi Legarra, Aitor Ocampos, Álex Bilbao, Fernando Grijalba, Alberto Guinea, Jon Larrinaga, Igor Merino and Rory Martínez.

De Lis' new lease of life

When 24-year-old Sergio De Lis surprisingly decided to retire from the sport mid-season in 2010, in the midst of his second year with Euskaltel, a lot of us were left bemused. When quizzed on the subject, Igor González de Galdeano remained coy, merely saying it was for "personal reasons" and that he didn't really want to talk about it. Now, more than 8 months on, Sergio De Lis has found a new lease of life: the life as a rower. Speaking to Gaizka Lasa of Bilbao newspaper El Correo, the former Orbea and Euskaltel all-rounder talks about his life after the bike. Taking up the sport in December, he's now rowing for San Sebastián-team San Pedro's second boat (whatever 'second boat' means). "I had continued to train (after hanging up the bike), but I lacked motivation", he said. "I needed that incentive, I needed that life". That life turned out to be onboard a boat. Though he's not alone in swapping the bike for the oar, or the other way around, antipodeans Amber Halliday, Drew Ginn and the late Amy Gillett, to name but three, have done the same, it's hardly the norm for ex-cyclists. Though admitting he's still coming to terms with the technique of his new sport, he still harbours dreams of one day competing in the big one. "Obviously I'd love to one day compete on La Concha, but at the moment I'm not setting myself any goals", he said modestly.

Fernández update

Crash-victim Koldo Fernández will on Monday undergo a few tests to determine how to proceed in his recuperation, writes It's no secret he's broken his right collarbone, but it's still not been established is he's broken a bone in his wrist as well. Fernández had a checkup in a Bilbao medical centre yesterday, but there's still no official word on when he might return to competition.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Castroviejo in for Fernández

According to DEIA, Jonathan Castroviejo will take the injured Koldo Fernández's place in Sunday's Clásica de Almería line-up. The team released a seven-man team with no Castroviejo in it yesterday, but the trustworthy Basque daily today says that's not the case.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Samu happy for friend Irizar

Samu was delighted both with his own and his team's performance, as well as for former team-mate Markel Irizar, when speaking to the media after the conclusion of the Vuelta a Andalucía today. Samu himself finished ninth, and speaking to the team's website after the race, he declared: "Oscar Freire was the right winner today, just like Markel Irizar was the rightful winner of the overall. Congratulations to both of them. But it was annoying not to win today. It was so close, and I wanted to dedicate an eventual win to Koldo after his crash yesterday. But in general, I'm happy with my performance all through the race. In the decisive stages we've shown good form and we've been in the mix. This race has allowed me to retake racing again, step by step ,and get the racing-rhythm back in my legs. It's impossible to forget the loss of Koldo, who is an important rider for us, but the dynamics in the team were good. My team-mates have performed really well and protected me every kilometre of the race with a positive and good attitude."

Andalucía stage 5

Samuel Sánchez took second place on today's fifth and final stage of the Vuelta a Andalucía. The Olympic champ was beaten only by three-time World champ Freire in the sprint for stage-honours, and so Euskaltel is still on the hunt for their first 2011 win. A four-man break, including the impressive Zabalo of Orbea, spent the majority of the day out in front. They were never likely to succeed, though, and they were reeled in with something like three clicks remaining. Only 33 riders made it to the line on the same time as Freire as a lumpy stage took it's toll on the peloton. In that 33-man group was Landa, who's showing good form these days, and sprinter Aberasturi and García of Orbea. Peio Bilbao, of the same team, only ceded 10 seconds by stage's end, while Urain ended up losing 27. Verdugo and Sicard continued their low-key start to the season by finishing 33 seconds adrift, while R Pérez and Urtasun ended up 56 back. Orbea trio Etxebarria, Zabalo and Cabedo finished 1:23, 1:44 and 1:46 back respectively.

On GC, Samu's consistent riding meant he finished a solid ninth, a placing he'll no doubt be pleased with in his first race of the year. Landa was a respectable 25th, Urtasun 45th, Verdugo 53rd, Pérez 54th and Sicard 66th. Peio Bilbao was Orbea's best-placed rider overall, finishing a solid 23rd. Cabedo was 49th, García 68th, Etxebarria 71st, Aberasturi 79th, Urain 91st and Xavier Zabalo ended up 101st. In the team ranking, Euskaltel ended up 10th and Orbea 13th.

Almería team

Euskaltel will send a seven-man team to Sunday's sprinter-friendly Clásica de Almería bereft of their designated leader. Koldo Fernández was expected to lead the charge, but sadly won't be able to due to yesterday's bad tumble. In his place, it's hoped last year's number nine, Rubén Pérez, can secure a top finish for the team. Joining him will be Igor Antón, Miguel Minguez, Jon Izagirre, Mikel Nieve, Mikel Landa and Alan Pérez. Josu Larrazabal will be in the car calling the shots.

Orbea presentation

La Fundación Euskadi's Continental-level team Orbea, will stage it's official presentation on Tuesday, March 1. The presentation will be held in the Orbea factory in Mallabia, Bizkaya, and all 13 riders, along DS Álex Díaz, Galdeano, Madariaga and Orbea manager Miguel Ocaña, will be present. More on this event on Wednesday.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Sánchez honoured with statue

The Asturian town of Oviedo has paid homage to it's big son Samuel Sánchez by eracting a statue of the Olympic champ downtown, writes Velonation. As you can see from the pic above, which is also from Velonation, the statue shows Samu on the podium in Beijing with the gold medal in his hand. "I'm very happy with it", he told Sidi Sport. "Winning a medal at the olympics is in itself extraordinary, there's nothing more gratifying in sport. Every time I pass the statue while out training, I remember Beijing and that race. It still feels incredible."

Andalucía stage 4

It was a disastrous day for Euskaltel and Koldo Fernández in Andalucía today. The sprinter was, alongside a host of other riders, taken out by an advertising board inside the last 100 metres of the stage. Koldo seemed to be the one worst off, with a collarbone fracture confirmed by the team's website. According to the same website he'll spend the night with his companions at the hotel, before travelling back home in the morning for some check-ups at the local hospital. After a crash-marred 2010 season, it was the last thing the amicable fastman needed. But that's sprinting, I guess. More news on Koldo's condition to follow tomorrow.

The stage itself was one big yawn as far as Euskaltel and Orbea were concerned. The teams failed to animate the flat 174km ride from Jaén to Córdoba, and when the anticipated sprint was about to start, well, it all went awry. An Orbea rider was also involved in the crash, but I didn't manage to identify him in all the mess that ensued. Jon Aberasturi grabbed a moral-boosting eighth at the line, so at least it's not all bad. Romain Sicard stopped by Koldo to check up on his stricken team-mate before crossing the line, but was sensibly given the same finishing-time as the rest. Orbea trio Etxebarria, Zabalo and Cabedo conceded 1:17, 1:19 and 1:19 respectively by day's end.

Naturgas presentation

La Fundación Euskadi's sub-23 team anno 2011 will be unveiled to the public on the 3rd of March. The presentation will be held at the Basque museum of contemporary art in Basque capital Vitoria-Gasteiz, writes All 16 riders, inluding the quintet of new arrivals, will be present. More on the presentation at a later date.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Andalucía stage 3

Euskaltel and Orbea were once again in the thick of the action today in Andalucía. On today's relatively flat stage 3 from Otura to Jaén, Urtasun and Orbea duo Zabalo and Cabedo were all on the attack in different breaks at various times in the race. The latter was especially impressive. After the first break in which he was a part of was reeled in, he attacked once again, this time along with Piedra and ex-Euskaltel rider Galdós. A brave attempt from the young newcomer at Orbea, but the plucky trio were caught with something like 15 clicks to go. In the sprint, Ventoso prevailed relatively easily. Designated sprinter Koldo Fernández was nowhere to be seen and finished 17th, but in his place stepped in Samu Sánchez to nab a good 7th. Another Orbea rookie, the ever-impressive Peio Bilbao, finished just ahead of Samu for a very creditable 6th place. Equally impressive was Ricardo García who grabbed 8th. All in all a stellar ride by the whole Orbea team. The class of '11, including the likes of Mr. Bilbao, Bagües, Cabedo and Bizkarra, certainly looks to be the real deal. All Euskaltel riders, with the exception of Sicard who lost 52 seconds by stage's end, cruised home in the pack. The same can be said for the other Orbea riders, except for Urain who crossed the line together with Sicard, and Cabedo who ended up 1:45 down after a brilliant day out.

The GC is finally poised going into the last couple of stages. Gladly, erstwhile Euskaltel rider Markel Irizar in clinging on to the leader's jersey, but Samu isn't out of the picture just yet, as he's ranked 12th at only 16 seconds. Bilbao is just another 10 seconds adrift, so there might still be a Fundación Euskadi representative among the, say, five best riders come race's end.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Andalucía stage 2

Though neither team managed to get any results of note in today's second stage of the Vuelta a Andalucía, both Euskaltel and Orbea did their best to sneak away with the win by attacking the peloton a few times. Both Romain Sicard and Orbea rider Aritz Etxebarria made it into the early five-man break on the lumpy 161km stage to Adra. The break was never going to succeed, though, and it was clear Sicard is still some way from reaching top form, but nonetheless a good day out for him and young Etxebarria. Two clicks from the line, the very promising Peio Bilbao and fellow Basque Arkaitz Durán tried to upset the sprinters by launching an attack, but the peloton were having none of it and duly reeled them in within sight of the line. Jonathan Hivert prevailed in a sprint bereft of Euskaltel and Orbea representatives. In the 43-man strong lead group that distanced the remaining riders were Sánchez, Landa and the aforementioned Bilbao, while Orbea's Cabedo and Euskaltel's Urtasun came in two minutes down. Verdugo and R Pérez cruised home more than a quarter of an hour down, while Sicard and Orbea duo Etxebarria and Garcia crossed the line a further four minutes back. Fernández and Orbea riders Aberasturi and Xabalo came home with the last group more than 22 minutes in arrears.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Andalucía prologue

Euskaltel enjoyed a somewhat subdued opening to the Vuelta a Andalucía today. The five-stage event opened with a 6,8km individual race against the clock, with Samuel Sánchez ending up an okay 18th at 16 seconds down on winner Engoulvent. Verdugo finished up at 25 seconds, down in 41st place, while Sicard finished 10 places further down at 27 seconds. Urtasun and R Pérez came in 34 back, Landa 40 and Fernández 42. The Ruta del Sol continues tomorrow with a mountainious 161,8km stage from Almuñécar to Adra, so keep an eye out for Landa, and maybe also Sicard.

Izagirre finishes 10th in Haut-Var

Gorka Izagirre put in another solid ride to claim 10th place overall in the Tour de Haut-Var today. The aggressive Ormaiztegi native was always there of thereabouts in the finale of today's hilly second stage, but in the end had to settle for 16th at 54 seconds down on winner Antomarchi. The other Euskaltel riders didn't fare so well, though, with Minguez and Castroviejo finishing 7:59 back and Martinez, Velasco and Nieve finishing 10:35 down. Along with a host of other riders, Antón and Cazaux threw in the towel underway. As mentioned, these results lead to a good 10th for Izagirre overall, while Castroviejo was 57th, Velasco 74th, Minguez 78th, Martínez 89th and Nieve 82nd. Overall a slightly disappointing Haut-Var for the team. Besides Izagirre, no one were ever close to fight for the win or yet alone animate the race. It's still February, though, so no need to panic just yet, and I expect we'll see a stronger team all-round in Paris-Nice in a few weeks.

Izagirre 6th in Haut-Var opener

Like I predicted a few days back, Gorka Izagirre was right up there with the very best on today's first stage of the Tour de Haut-Var. The 170km stage finished with a three-kilometre long climb to Grimaud, and a selection was quickly made. Six riders, among them Izagirre and winner Dumoulin, finished nine seconds ahead of a larger group, with the Euskaltel rider taking sixth behind names like the aforementioned Dumoulin, Nocentini, Voeckler and Rojas. Though the win still eludes Izagirre, it was still an excellent ride from the young all-rounder. In the group at nine seconds was Velasco, Castroviejo and Cazaux, while Martínez ended up at 40 seconds, Antón at 1:54, Minguez at 3:03 and Nieve at 4:12. As it's only a two-stage event, the race concludes tomorrow with a 207km trek to Draguignan.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Pierre Cazaux

  • Full name: Pierre Cazaux
  • Date of birth: 07.06.1984
  • Place of birth: Donapaleu
  • Turned professional: 2008
  • Joined Euskaltel: 2011
  • Previous teams: Francaise des Jeux (2010), Roubaix-Lille Métropole (2008-2009)
  • Palmarès:

Ion Izagirre

  • Full name: Ion Izagirre Insausti
  • Date of birth: 04.02.1989
  • Place of birth: Ormaiztegi
  • Turned professional: 2010
  • Joined Euskaltel: 2011
  • Previous teams: Orbea
  • Palmarès: 1st: Stage 2b (ITT) Vuelta a Asturias 2012, stage 16 Giro d'Italia 2012. 2nd: National road race championships 2013. 3rd: Les Boucles du Sud Ardèche 2012.

Mikel Landa

  • Full name: Mikel Landa Meana
  • Date of birth: 13.12.1989
  • Place of birth: Murgia
  • Turned professional: 2010
  • Joined Euskaltel: 2011
  • Previous teams: Orbea
  • Palmarès: 1st: Stage 5 Vuelta a Burgos 2011. 2nd: GP Miguel Induráin 2012, Vuelta a la Comunidad de Madrid 2013, stage 2 Vuelta a Asturias/Subida al Naranco 2013, overall Vuelta a Asturias 2013. 3rd: Stage 1 Vuelta a Asturias 2013.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Andalucía line-up

Euskaltel have released the list of riders that will compete at the five-day Vuelta a Andalucía starting this Sunday: Koldo Fernández, Pablo Urtasun, Mikel Landa, Romain Sicard, Samuel Sánchez, Gorka Verdugo and Rubén Pérez. Galdeano junior will call the shots from the team-car. Expect Fernández and Urtasun to mix it up in the tough sprint-finishes, but don't expect stars Sánchez and Sicard to be in top shape just yet as they aim for races later in the spring.

Haut Var line-up

Euskaltel will send a strong eight-man squad to this weekends two-stage Tour de Haut-Var in south-eastern France. New recruit Pierre Cazaux, who of course is French, will make his bow in the orange jersey of Euskaltel, and he'll be joined by Igor Antón, Egoi Martínez, Jonathan Castroviejo, Mikel Nieve, Miguel Minguez, Iván Velasco and Gorka Izagirre. Due to his excellent showing in Mallorca, I expect the latter to be up there fighting for the win. Also keep an eye out for Velasco and Castroviejo. Gorka Gerrikagoitia will lead the team in France.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Star duo set for Critérium

According to the Velo-Club website, Euskaltel will field both Samuel Sánchez and Romain Sicard in the Critérium International in March. The team were yesterday awarded an invite to the event, and Galdeano and co. has decided to honour the organizers by sending the reigning Olympic champ and former sub-23 world champ to Corsica. Don't be surprised to see the likes of trustworthy stalwarts Egoi Martínez and Gorka Verdugo also lining up.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Crit. International invite confirmed

ASO today confirmed Euskaltel will be one of nine ProTeams and 16 teams in total to take part in the two-day, three-stage race that, just like last year, will be staged on Corsica on March 26-27. Euskaltel cut a good figure last year and will hope to repeat the feat this season. News on the startlist have not yet been released.

Arberas pleased with Essor Basque ride

Naturgas Energia DS Aritz Arberas expressed himself satisifed with his young riders' Essor Basque performance. Speaking to la Fundación Euskadi's homepage, the former Seguros Bilbao rider said: "The race was held in France, and they ride in a different way over here. We lacked that experience. But we're very pleased with the results, as Grijalba was 12th the first day, and Barbero and Larrinaga 14th and 16th respectively the second day. All this means we're off to a good start this year, and it confirms that we're doing well."

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Essor Basque stage 2

Naturgas' young charges were again forced to play second fiddle to their French counterparts in today's second Essor Basque stage. Damien Le Fustec grabbed the win from a small group, while a big group coming in seix seconds back included Barbero in 14th, Larrinaga in 16th, Merino in 35th and Ocampos in 36th. Chetout, Garcia and Grijalba finished up in the last group a further six minutes adrift.

Quartet to hone TT skills

The Euskaltel riders will continue to work with biomechanic Juan García López with a view to perform better in time trials. Tomorrow, Igor Antón and Alan Pérez will do some sessions under García's watchful eyes, while Jonathan Castroviejo and Mikel Landa will do the same on Wednesday. Since they started working with García over four years ago, some of the riders have improved vastly in TTs, so hopefully he can do his magic with another batch of riders.

Essor Basque stage 1

Naturgas got their season off to a quiet start in today's first leg of the Essor Basque. Not surprisingly, the guys from the other side of the Pyrenees proved a class apart by taking the first nine places. Grijalba was the strongest from the red team, grabbing 12th approximately a minute and a half down on victor Bouteille. The rest of the team all finished in the same group as Grijalba, and will look to grab a top-10 in tomorrow's stage.

Friday, February 11, 2011


  • Orbea DS Alex Díaz was very pleased with his young charges' overall performance in the Mallorca Challenge which came to a close yesterday. "The evaluation is very postive", he told the team's website. "We're very ambitious, and we'll continue to show this ambition in the coming races. We'll do our utmost to show what we've got."
  • Naturgas Energía, la Fundación Euskadi's sub-23 team, will start it's season tomorrow at the Essor Basque. For this first rendezvous of the season, DS Arberas will send the following ten riders: Álex Bilbao, Igor Merino,Karl Baudron, Jon Larrinaga, Aitor Ocampos, Carlos Barbero, Damien Garcia, Loïc Chetout and Fernando Grijalba. "We'll do our best to animate the race", was Arberas comment.
  • La Fundación Euskadi has generously decided to donate two Orbea's to the '200 bikes to Sahara'-project, a project aiming at giving that amount of bikes to youngsters in Tindouf, Algeria.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Euskaltel go all-out in Palmanova

Euskaltel tried bravely and whole-heartedly to secure the team's first win of the season at today's closing trofeo of the Mallorca Challenge, the Trofeo Magaluf-Palmanova. To cut a long story short: five of the riders went on the attack and were in the leading group at different times of the race. The Izagirre brothers, Isasi, Castroviejo and Landa all attacked the peloton and stayed clear of the pack for a while, but in the end it was to no avail as Team Movistar was intent on setting it up for a sprint and reeled in all attempts. Eventually it came down to a sprint in which Murilo Fischer prevailed. Rubén Pérez, not yet at the peak of his powers, grabbed 15th, while Gorka Izagirre was 20th. Txurruka was 22nd and Velasco 25th, both at five seconds, while the other Izagirre, Landa, Minguez and Castroviejo came in seven adrift. Urtasun ended up 1:15 down and Isasi 3:13. Thanks to his strong effort in the break, Castroviejo won the 'Special sprints'-jersey.

After animating the race the previous four days, the Orbea youngsters took a back seat to proceedings today. None of the riders managed to join a breakaway group, and none stayed with the favourites over the many climbs. The closest one to doing so was the mightily impressive Peio Bilbao who lead home Txurruka and Velasco's group at five seconds to take 21st. Etxebarria and Bizkarra rolled in with Isasi and co. at 3:13, Aberasturi was a further nine seconds down, while the remaining six riders, Martin, Zabalo, Garcia, Sáez, Cabedo and Bagües, all found the going too tough and retired.

Izagirre reveals Giro plans

Speaking after taking second in yesterday's Trofeo Deiá, Gorka Izagirre revealed he's set to ride his first Grand Tour this May. He'll go to the Giro d'Italia mainly to help Igor Antón, he told GARA, but he's not excluding going for a stage-win of his own. "Igor Antón will be the leader and I'll do my utmost to help him, but that doesn't exclude looking for my own oppotunities. I have a lot of respect for the race. It'll be my first GT and I'll enter the race accordingly." Izagirre is likely to form the nucleus of Antón's support-cast alongside the likes of Mikel Nieve and JJ Oroz in Italy. He also revealed his next race will be the Tour de Haut-Var before he embarks on Paris-Nice alongside, among others, Samuel Sánchez, Romain Sicard and Egoi Martínez. Prior to debuting at the Giro, he's also scheduled to do the majority of both the cobbled and the Ardennes classics.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Izagirre grabs first podium of the season

Gorka Izagirre took an awesome second in today's Trofeo Deiá, the penultimate leg of the Mallorca Challenge. On the slight uphill finish to the 143km lumpy stage, Izagirre was only bested by renowned sprinter JJ Rojas of Movistar. Although it's always slightly annoying to finish second, the rider himself didn't seem downbeat at all post-race, saying to the team's website: "I'm pleased with my form, both here and in the Tour Down Under. That's the most important thing, and I'm happy with that. I'll work to keep it up." He also reserved praise for his hard-working team-mates, saying: "They did a great job, both by keeping the break in check and on the ascent of the Puig Major. Mikel Landa, Jon Izagirre and Miguel Minguez upped the pace on the climb and made sure only 30-something riders crested the climb in the first group. In the finale I tried my hand. I followed Tony Martin, but Rojas distanced me and won convincingly." Urtasun, Isasi, Castroviejo and Velasco all finished in that 34-man strong lead group, while Izagirre jr. ended up 3:24 adrift, Antón, Nieve and Landa 4:32, Minguez 7:42 and Sesma 13:13.

Orbea also had a good day out, once again getting a rider into the break. Today was the turn of Xabier Zabalo, who joined a quartet 43 kilometres into the stage, but the group, under the watchful eye of Euskaltel and Movistar, never got a good gap and were comfortably reeled in. When the break was caught at the foot of the Puig Major, newbie Victor Cabedo showed his pedigree by attacking up the hill with a certain Fabio Duarte. The duo distanced the peloton, but inexplicably Cabedo managed to crash on the way down and was left cursing what might have been. Though he suffered brusing to most parts of his body, he's reported to be okay for tomorrow's stage. In the end none of the Orbea riders managed to stay with the lead group. Ricardo Garcia crossed the line with a small group nine seconds down, Bizkarra ended up in 59th at 1:04, while Zabalo, Bilbao and Etxebarria finished 4:32 back alongside Antón et al. Cabedo, all banged up, finished 7:42 back, while Aberasturi, Bagües, Martin and Sáez all ended up more than 14 minutes adrift.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Izagirre 9th in Inca

Gorka Izagirre, fresh off a strong Tour Down Under, was once again mixing it up with the big boys in today's Trofeo Inca, the third leg of the Mallorca Challenge. A trio consisting of Hermans, Durán and Tondo escaped on the descent off of the 1. category Puig Major and made it all the way to the line. A select group of approximately 30 riders crossed the line 45 seconds down, among them the aforementioned Izagirre in ninth, Peio Bilbao of Orbea in a highly impressive 12th, equally impressive Victor Cabedo and Ricardo Garcia of the same team in 14th and 15th respectively, Velasco in 19th, Landa in 24th and Castroviejo in 28th. In other words: the young guns really showed their worth out there today. Minguez, R Pérez and J Izagirre ended up 5:47 adrift, Bizkarra of Orbea 8:33, Txurruka 14:26, Bagües and Sáez, who spent another day off the front in the break of the day, 15:58, and Sesma ended up 20:07 in arrears. Orbea's Etxebarria and Euskaltel's Urtasun finished outside the time-limit, while Orbea companions Martín and Zabalo stepped off underway.

Fernández still suffering from bad crash

Koldo Fernández had told El Diario Vasco that he's still not completely healed from his bad crash in Paris-Bourges towards the back-end of last season. The sprinter backed off in the sprint for the line in yesterday's Trofeo Cala Millor due to the 'crazy nature' of the sprint and the risks of crashing involved. Responding to comments made by Movistar compatriots and fellow sprinters JJ Rojas and Fran Ventoso that he looks more like a climber than a sprinter now, the Zurbano native admitted that the crash has had a big impact on his weight and muscle-mass. "I've lost a lot of muscle-mass", he readily admitted. At the moment he's three or four kilos below his match-weight and can't put out more than 1500 watts in a sprint. Last year he could put out 1700. "I've lost a lot of my sprinting prowess. But in return I'm lighter and might be able to crest the climbs more easily. Perhaps this will prevent me from taking part in certain types of sprints, but maybe it'll enable me to be competitive in harder stages with more mountains, the classics..." After returning to his home from the Mallorca Challenge, Koldo will have some x-rays done to try to figure out what causes his arms and fingers to fall asleep every time he turns his head down. This mysterious disorder is naturally hampering his riding, and thus he won't take to the start in today's Trofeo Inca as a precautionary measure.

Samu defends use of radio

Olympic champ Samuel Sánchez has spoken out on the ear-piece controversy that is currently occupying the cycling world at the moment, saying it's vital to the riders' security and that he doesn't want them abolished. Speaking to El Diario Vasco, the Euskaltel team-leader said that race radios don't make them act like robots and that they are indispensable for the riders and their well-being when out on the road, citing oil and grease on the roads as an example of what the riders can be warned of through the use of radios.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Sánchez and Antón speak

Click to watch interviews with Euskaltel's two main leaders for the season ahead: Samuel Sánchez and Igor Antón. The interviews were done after the team's presentation in San Sebastián last Thursday, and the two amicable riders speak on their hopes and objectives for the year ahead.

Euskaltel off-colour in Cala Millor

Euskaltel did not have the best of days in today's second leg of the Challenge Mallorca, the Trofeo Cala Millor-Cala Millor. In a nervous dash for the line, Koldo Fernández didn't take any chances and rolled in next to Freire in 23rd place. Rubén Pérez, Gorka Izagirre, Isasi, Urtasun and Velasco all finished 10 seconds down, while season-debutants Txurruka, Nieve and Antón came in half a minute adrift.

Orbea fared better, though, and placed an aggressive Adrián Sáez de Arregi in the main break. The youngster joined Movistar's Luis Pasamontes and NetApp's for the moment moustache-less American Steven Cozza for a day-long adventure. Eventhough they built up a handy lead of eight minutes at one point, the trio never stood a chance and were reeled in by the sprinters' teams. The Orbea youngster secured the 'Special Sprint'-jersey, though, so he'll no doubt be happy with his day's work. So too will Jon Aberasturi who sprinted to a strong 12th place. Zabalo, García and Peio Bilbao all came in with that big group 10 seconds back, while Cabedo, Bagües, Etxebarria and Martín formed part of Antón, Nieve and Txurruka's group. Sáez eventually finished up next to Bizkarra at a minute and a half.

The relatively mountainious 157,2km Trofeo Inca is up tomorrow, so expect to see Euskaltel's feather-wight climbers up there challenging for the win. Especially, keep an eye out for Velasco!

Fernández 8th in Mallorca opener

Koldo Fernández got Euskaltel off to an okay start in the five-day Challenge Mallorca earlier today. The speedster sprinted to eighth on day one, the race being taken out by Tyler Farrar. All the other Euskaltel riders rolled in with the pack. So too did the Orbea representatives; Aberasturi, who placed a solid 20th, García, Martín, Zabalo, Saez de Arregi, Etxebarria, Peio Bilbao, Bizkarra, Cabedo and Bagües. The latter four made their debuts with the team and enjoyed a relatively easy day in the saddle. The slightly bumpier Trofeo Cala Millor is on the menu for the riders tomorrow. Though it'll likely be decided in a sprint tomorrow as well, the team will still field climbers Antón, Nieve, Txurruka and Vélasco, along with Fernández, Gorka Izagirre, Sesma, Isasi, Urtasun and Rubén Pérez. For Orbea, the same ten riders will take to the start.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Trofeo Palma line-up

The first race of the Challenge Mallorca series, the Trofeo Palma, is currently underway. Representing the Basques are Fernández, Urtasun, Landa, Isasi, Castroviejo, Minguez, Sesma, the Izagirres and Rubén Pérez. Stay tuned for results later today.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Relive the highs of 2010

Click the link below to watch a short summary of every win obtained by the team last year:

Team presentation

The 2011 team presentation was successfully held in the Teatro Principal in Sán Sebastián yesterday. As we've become accustomed to when it comes to Euskaltel presentations, it was all the usual stuff, with a host of celebrities (local celebrities anyway) present, Madariaga, Galdeano, Ardanza et al. addressing the crowd, the team posing for photos... Not overly exciting in other words, but I guess that's the way team presentations go. Except for the local celebrities whom you all probably never have heard of, there were some names that should be familiar to most of you. A certain Abraham Olano was present, and so too was Javier Guillén, José Luis Arrieta, Iñigo Cuesta and José Antonio Ardanza. The team leaders, Antón and Samu, repeated what they've been saying for the last couple of months, i.e. that Antón is aiming for a stage in the Giro and the overall in the Vuelta, while Samu aspires to win País Vasco and grab a top-three placing in the Tour. Madariaga talked about how the team aims to repeat last year's historic win-tally or go even better. The term "Euskaltel Euskadi: Más que un equipo", highlighting the uniqueness of the squad, was everywhere to be seen and heard. If you want to watch a five-min video with that exact same title, uploaded by the team yesterday, click on this link: .

Official Mallorca line-up

The 14 following riders will represent the team at the upcoming Challenge de Baleares: Amets Txurruka, Jon and Gorka Izagirre, Koldo Fernández, Iván Velasco, Rubén Pérez, Igor Antón, Mikel Nieve, Pablo Urtasun, Mikel Landa, Daniel Sesma, Iñaki Isasi, Jonathan Castroviejo and Miguel Minguez. Álvaro Gonzalez de Galdeano will be in the team car calling the shots, and the team will mainly look to Gorka Izagirre, Iván Velasco and Koldo Fernández for stage - and possibly overall success. The racing gets underway this Sunday with the Trofeo Palma.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Trio join Alonso in training

Koldo Fernández, Jorge Azanza and Samuel Sánchez joined Formula 1 stars and compatriots Fernando Alonso and Carlos Sainz to watch the two speedsters train on a circuit in Valencia, writes El Diario Vasco. Alonso is an avid cyclist and a good friend of Samuel's, and with Galdeano's blessing the trio got to leave the training camp in Alicante for a while to watch Alonso and Sainz train, before having a meal together at Ferrari's motorhome. The Euskaltel trio also got to see Alonso's new car, something which is sure to have excited Samuel who's a keen follower of the F1 circuit and who often goes out training (on the bike that is!) with fellow Asturian Alonso.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011


  • As mentioned earlier, Euskaltel will present it's 2011 roster to the public in the Teatro Principal in San Sebastián on Thursday the 3rd of February.
  • The Euskaltel riders and Galdeano and Madariaga will spend the day tomorrow visiting the new Anoeta stadium in San Sebastián, home to Real Sociedad, before visiting the famed basilica in Arantzazu. 18 years ago, the Euskadi team, as it was called back then, kicked off it's maiden season from this exact basilica, so it will be a sort of homecoming to celebrate the longevity of the team. After the ceremony, the riders will ride back to the city, where they'll stay overnight for Thursday's presentation.
  • Samu Sánchez has revealed he'll be going all out for the overall win in both the Paris-Nice and the Vuelta al País Vasco this year. Galdeano reckons this year provides him with his best shot yet at taking the elusive País Vasco crown, a crown that's eluded the team since Ibán Mayo's win way back in 2003.


web site counter
ISP Internet Providers