Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Aramendía reflects on Euskaltel years

Much was expected of Francisco Javier Aramendía Llorente when he turned professional with Euskaltel back in 2008. But the soon-to-be 25-year-old (he turns 25 this coming Monday) never quite lived up to the hype surrounding him, struggling to obtain results of note after a promising start. In 2012, the strong rouleur will step down to the Professional Continental ranks and ride for the team he spent his formative years with: Caja Rural. But he's not disheartened at the thought.

"I'm enthusiastic about 'going home'", he told La Grada Navarra. "It fills me with joy and optimism. I grew up here, and now I hope we can continue to grow together. I can guarantee you that I will do my utmost, 100 percent, at this team. The road will tell me if I'm successful."

Looking back at his four years in the orange jersey, the Navarran was grateful for the experience he's obtained - from one race in particular.

"At Euskaltel, I was given the chance to ride with the elite and do a full calendar of top quality races. But perhaps the race that made me grow the most was the Giro d'Italia: first of all because it was the first Grand Tour I ever did, but also because I learned that the body has no limits. It was a fantastic experience! I fell in love with the race. I don't know what the Tour is like, but the fans in Italy were truly exceptional. Whilst in the middle of a race like that, you're so focused on day-to-day business that you don't fully grasp what you're actually doing. Then, when you get back home and take a look at the race you just completed, you wonder 'how did I do that?'. That's what I mean when I say the body has no limits. It's a spectacular race for a lot of reasons: from the stage profiles, to the tifosi, to the transfers."

The Giro will, understandably, not figure on Aramendía's calendar next year. Instead, he's got his mind set on his home Grand Tour. Hailing from Funes, toeing the line at the Vuelta-start in nearby Pamplona represents a major objective.

"It would be a dream come true for both myself and the team (to take part in the Vuelta a España). Our target for 2012 is to be at the start. The race starts off from my home, from the team's headquarters, so I think it's only natural that we'll get picked for the race. We'll fight all year long for that invitation - and I'll do my best to be among the nine selected".

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