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".

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Fernández reveals 2012 plans

Departing sprinter Koldo Fernández has got his schedule for 2012 figured out - and the 30-year-old is likely to cross swords with his erstwhile team-mates pretty much all spring.


Spanish news-agency EFE reports the soon-to-be Garmin-Cervélo rider will start out with a separate calendar to that of star sprinter Tyler Farrar. Fernández will have the backing of his team in the early months of the year in the Challenge Mallorca, in Portugal's Volta ao Algarve and in one-day race Clásica Almería. He's shortlisted for Milano-San Remo - a race he never enjoyed much luck at whilst with Euskaltel - and he's also down for the Volta a Catalunya.

Fernández and namesake, DS and former Euskaltel rider Bingen Fernández, along with the rest of the American outfit, will step up their preparations for the new season with a multi-day training camp in Calpe, Alicante.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Orbe relishing Orbea opportunity













Given his name, it is most fitting that Haritz Orbe will ride for Orbea next year. The 20-year-old makes the move from Basque sub-23 team Bidelan-Kirolgi after a stellar season at the Spanish amateur scene and, despite his youth, feels ready for the challenge ahead.

"Yeah, I feel ready to race at this level", he told El Pedal de Frodo. "This season I proved I've progressed a lot. Obviously it'll take time to adapt to the level, but, yes, I do feel ready for it. I'm really enthusiastic about this move, and from my first pedal stroke I'll strive to pay back the Fundación, Miguel Madariaga in particular, and Orbea for the trust they've shown in me. I didn't ride for Naturgas (the Fundación Euskadi's own sub-23 outfit), but pretty much every Basque cyclist aim to join this team nonetheless."

Despite securing his dream move, Orbe isn't getting carried away. So far this winter, he's been spending more time at school than on his bike.

"I haven't taken a lot of time off this winter. This year's off-season has been like the previous ones: centred around my engineering studies. Although, from December and onwards, I'll spend more and more time on the bike and give the sport a real go. Cycling deserves a chance".

Reflecting on the recently-concluded season, the youngster was particularly pleased with his performances in the year's biggest races: the nationals, the Vuelta a Madrid and the Tour de l'Avenir.

"I was consistent pretty much throughout the year, and I got good results in major races like the national champs and in Madrid (he was third in the under-23 road race and achieved the same result in the under-23 competition in the capital race). Taking part in l'Avenir was also a highlight. I have to admit though that I would have liked to have won more races, but overall I've learned a lot both this year and in 2010".

Team rosters

  • 1994 Euskadi-Petronor (16): Ibon Ajuria, Julián Barcina, Iñigo Cuesta, Thierry Elissalde, Iñigo González de Heredia, Juan Carlos González Salvador, Rubén Gorospe, Roberto Laiseka, Javier Lazpiur, Juan Tomás Martínez, Javier Murguialday, Aitor Osa, Javier Palacín, Pello Ruiz Cabestany, Agustín Sagasti, César Solaun.
  • 1995 Euskadi (20): Ibon Ajuria, Julián Barcina, Aitor Bugallo, Iñigo Cuesta, Thierry Elissalde, Erkaitz Elkoroiribe, Bingen Fernández, Álvaro González de Galdeano, Igor González de Galdeano, Iñigo González de Heredia, Juan Carlos González Salvador, Asier Guenetxea, Roberto Laiseka, Javier Lazpiur, Roberto Lezaun, Juan Tomás Martínez, Aitor Osa, Javier Palacín, Agustín Sagasti, César Solaun.
  • 1996 Euskadi (18): Iñaki Aiarzagüena, Ibon Ajuria, Aitor Bugallo, Erkaitz Elkoroiribe, Unai Etxebarria, Bingen Fernández, Igor Flores, David García Markina, Álvaro González de Galdeano, Igor González de Galdeano, Iñigo González de Heredia, Asier Guenetxea, Roberto Laiseka, Alberto López de Muñain, Aitor Osa, Javier Palacín, Óscar López Uriarte, César Solaun.
  • 1997 Euskadi (16): Iñaki Aiarzagüena, Ibon Ajuria, Aitor Bugallo, Txema Del Olmo, Unai Etxebarria, Bingen Fernández, Igor Flores, David García Markina, Gorka Gerrikagoitia, Álvaro González de Galdeano, Igor González de Galdeano, Iñigo González de Heredia, Roberto Laiseka, Alberto López de Muñain, Óscar López Uriarte, César Solaun.
  • 1998 Euskaltel-Euskadi (20): Iñaki Aiarzagüena, Ibon Ajuria, Joseba Beloki, Aitor Bugallo, Ángel Castresana, Iñigo Chaurreau, Txema Del Olmo, Unai Etxebarria, Bingen Fernández, Igor Flores, Gorka Gerrikagoitia, Ramón González Arrieta, Álvaro González de Galdeano, Igor González de Galdeano, Aitor Kintana, Roberto Laiseka, Alberto López de Muñain, Óscar López Uriarte, José Alberto Martínez, Haimar Zubeldia.
  • 1999 Euskaltel-Euskadi (20): Ibon Ajuria, Peio Arreitunandia, Mikel Artetxe, Joseba Beloki, Ángel Castresana, Iñigo Chaurreau, Txema Del Olmo, Unai Etxebarria, Bingen Fernández, Igor Flores, Iker Flores, Gorka Gerrikagoitia, Ramón González Arrieta, Aitor Kintana, Roberto Laiseka, Alberto López de Muñain, José Alberto Martínez, Mikel Pradera, Aitor Silloniz, Haimar Zubeldia.
  • 2000 Euskaltel-Euskadi (23): Peio Arreitunandia, Gorka Arrizabalaga, Mikel Artetxe, Ángel Castresana, Iñigo Chaurreau, Txema Del Olmo, Rubén Díaz de Cerio, Unai Etxebarria, Bingen Fernández, Igor Flores, Iker Flores, Gorka Gerrikagoitia, Ramón González Arrieta, Aitor Kintana, Roberto Laiseka, Ibán Mayo, Alberto López de Muñain, José Alberto Martínez, Mikel Pradera, Samuel Sánchez, Aitor Silloniz, Josu Silloniz, Haimar Zubeldia.
  • 2001 Euskaltel-Euskadi (27): Gorka Arrizabalaga, Mikel Artetxe, Ángel Castresana, Iñigo Chaurreau, Txema Del Olmo, Rubén Díaz de Cerio, David Etxebarria, Unai Etxebarria, Lander Euba, Bingen Fernández, Igor Flores, Iker Flores, Gorka Gerrikagoitia, Gorka González, Ramón González Arrieta, David Herrero, Iñaki Isasi, Roberto Laiseka, Iñigo Landaluze, Ibán Mayo, Alberto López de Muñain, José Alberto Martínez, Samuel Sánchez, Aitor Silloniz, Josu Silloniz, Haimar Zubeldia, Joseba Zubeldia.
  • 2002 Euskaltel-Euskadi (25): Gorka Arrizabalaga, Mikel Artetxe, Rubén Díaz de Cerio, David Etxebarria, Unai Etxebarria, Lander Euba, Julen Fernández, Igor Flores, Iker Flores, Gorka Gerrikagoitia, Gorka González, David Herrero, Iñaki Isasi, Roberto Laiseka, Iñigo Landaluze, Alberto López de Muñain, Egoi Martínez, José Alberto Martínez, Ibán Mayo, Samuel Sánchez, Aitor Silloniz, Josu Silloniz, César Solaun, Haimar Zubeldia, Joseba Zubeldia.
  • 2003 Euskaltel-Euskadi (24): Gorka Arrizabalaga, Mikel Artetxe, Rubén Díaz de Cerio, David Etxebarria, Unai Etxebarria, Lander Euba, Julen Fernández, Iker Flores, Dionisio Galparsoro, Gorka Gerrikagoitia, Gorka González, David Herrero, Iñaki Isasi, Roberto Laiseka, Iñigo Landaluze, Alberto López de Muñain, Egoi Martínez, José Alberto Martínez, Ibán Mayo, Samuel Sánchez, Aitor Silloniz, Josu Silloniz, Haimar Zubeldia, Joseba Zubeldia.
  • 2004 Euskaltel-Euskadi (25): Joseba Albizu, Gorka Arrizabalaga, Mikel Artetxe, Iker Camaño, David Etxebarria, Unai Etxebarria, Koldo Fernández de Larrea, Iker Flores, Dionisio Galparsoro, Gorka González, Markel Irizar, Iñaki Isasi, Roberto Laiseka, Iñigo Landaluze, Alberto López de Muñain, Antton Luengo, Egoi Martínez, Ibán Mayo, Aketza Peña, Samuel Sánchez, Aitor Silloniz, Josu Silloniz, Gorka Verdugo, Haimar Zubeldia, Joseba Zubeldia.
  • 2005 Euskaltel-Euskadi (26): Joseba Albizu, Igor Antón, Mikel Artetxe, Iker Camaño, Unai Etxebarria, Koldo Fernández de Larrea, Iker Flores, Aitor González, Gorka González, David Herrero, Markel Irizar, Iñaki Isasi, Roberto Laiseka, Iñigo Landaluze, Alberto López de Muñain, Davíd López García, Antton Luengo, Egoi Martínez, Ibán Mayo, Aketza Peña, Samuel Sánchez, Aitor Silloniz, Josu Silloniz, Gorka Verdugo, Haimar Zubeldia, Joseba Zubeldia.
  • 2006 Euskaltel-Euskadi (29): Joseba Albizu, Beñat Albizuri, Igor Antón, Andoni Aranaga, Iker Camaño, Unai Etxebarria, Koldo Fernández de Larrea, Iker Flores, Gorka González, Aitor Hernández, David Herrero, Iban Iriondo, Markel Irizar, Iñaki Isasi, Roberto Laiseka, Iñigo Landaluze, Davíd López García, Antton Luengo, Ibán Mayo, Ibán Mayoz, Aketza Peña, Álan Pérez Lezaun, Rubén Pérez Moreno, Samuel Sánchez, Josu Silloniz, Unai Uribarri, Gorka Verdugo, Haimar Zubeldia, Joseba Zubeldia.
  • 2007 Euskaltel-Euskadi (29): Beñat Albizuri, Igor Antón, Lander Aperribay, Andoni Aranaga, Mikel Astarloza, Jorge Azanza, Jon Bru, Unai Etxebarria, Koldo Fernández de Larrea, Aitor Galdós, Dionisio Galparsoro, Aitor Hernández, Iban Iriondo, Markel Irizar, Iñaki Isasi, Andoni Lafuente, Iñigo Landaluze, Antton Luengo, Ibán Mayoz, Juan José Oroz, Álan Pérez Lezaun, Rubén Pérez Moreno, Samuel Sánchez, Amets Txurruka, Unai Uribarri, Iván Velasco, Gorka Verdugo, Haimar Zubeldia, Joseba Zubeldia.
  • 2008 Euskaltel-Euskadi (26): Beñat Albizuri, Josu Agirre, Igor Antón, Lander Aperribay, Javier Aramendía, Mikel Astarloza, Jorge Azanza, Jon Bru, Koldo Fernández de Larrea, Aitor Galdós, Dionisio Galparsoro, Aitor Hernández, Markel Irizar, Iñaki Isasi, Andoni Lafuente, Iñigo Landaluze, Antton Luengo, Egoi Martínez, Juan José Oroz, Álan Pérez Lezaun, Rubén Pérez Moreno, Samuel Sánchez, Amets Txurruka, Iván Velasco, Gorka Verdugo, Haimar Zubeldia.
  • 2009 Euskaltel-Euskadi (23): Josu Agirre, Igor Antón, Javier Aramendía, Mikel Astarloza, Jorge Azanza, Sergio De Lis, Koldo Fernández de Larrea, Aitor Galdós, Aitor Hernández, Markel Irizar, Iñaki Isasi, Andoni Lafuente, Iñigo Landaluze, Egoi Martínez, Mikel Nieve, Juan José Oroz, Álan Pérez Lezaun, Rubén Pérez Moreno, Samuel Sánchez, Amets Txurruka, Pablo Urtasun, Iván Velasco, Gorka Verdugo.
  • 2010 Euskaltel Euskadi (24): Igor Antón, Javier Aramendía, Jorge Azanza, Jonathan Castroviejo, Sergio De Lis, Koldo Fernández de Larrea, Aitor Galdós, Aitor Hernández, Beñat Intxausti, Iñaki Isasi, Gorka Izagirre, Egoi Martínez, Miguel Mínguez, Mikel Nieve, Juan José Oroz, Álan Pérez Lezaun, Rubén Pérez Moreno, Samuel Sánchez, Daniel Sesma, Romain Sicard, Amets Txurruka, Pablo Urtasun, Iván Velasco, Gorka Verdugo.
  • 2011 Euskaltel Euskadi (25): Igor Antón, Javier Aramendía, Mikel Astarloza, Jorge Azanza, Peio Bilbao, Jonathan Castroviejo, Pierre Cazaux, Koldo Fernández de Larrea, Iñaki Isasi, Gorka Izagirre, Jon Izagirre, Mikel Landa, Egoi Martínez, Miguel Mínguez, Mikel Nieve, Juan José Oroz, Álan Pérez Lezaun, Rubén Pérez Moreno, Samuel Sánchez, Daniel Sesma, Romain Sicard, Amets Txurruka, Pablo Urtasun, Iván Velasco, Gorka Verdugo.
  • 2012 Euskaltel Euskadi (23): Igor Antón, Mikel Astarloza, Jorge Azanza, Peio Bilbao, Victor Cabedo, Pierre Cazaux, Ricardo García, Gorka Izagirre, Jon Izagirre, Mikel Landa, Egoi Martínez, Miguel Mínguez, Mikel Nieve, Juan José Oroz, Álan Pérez Lezaun, Rubén Pérez Moreno, Adrián Sáez de Arregi, Samuel Sánchez, Romain Sicard, Amets Txurruka, Pablo Urtasun, Iván Velasco, Gorka Verdugo.
  • 2013 Euskaltel Euskadi (29): Jon Aberasturi, Igor Antón, Mikel Astarloza, Jorge Azanza, Peio Bilbao, Garikoitz Bravo, Tarik Chaoufi, Ricardo García, Gorka Izagirre, Ion Izagirre, Jure Kocjan, Mikel Landa, Juan José Lobato, Egoi Martínez, Ricardo Mestre, Miguel Minguez, Mikel Nieve, Juan José Oroz, Rubén Pérez, Steffen Radochla, Adrián Sáez, Samuel Sánchez, André Schulze, Alexandre Serebryakov, Romain Sicard, Ioannis Tamouridis, Pablo Urtasun, Gorka Verdugo, Robert Vrecer

Victor Cabedo


















  • Full name: Victor Cabedo Carda
  • 15.06.1989 - 19.09.2012
  • Place of birth: Onda, Valencia
  • Turned professional: 2011
  • Joined Euskaltel: 2012
  • Previous teams: Orbea (2011)
  • Palmarès: 1st: Stage 4 Vuelta a Asturias 2011

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The one team man













Like team captain and friend Samuel Sánchez, Igor Antón is very much dedicated to the cause. The 28-year-old told Basque daily DEIA that he would have stayed at the team even if Euskaltel hadn't been allocated a WorldTour-licence, and he envisages staying at the team as long as it's operational.

"I signed a two-year deal in 2010, and it never crossed my mind to break that contract", he explained. "Of course, sometimes it is tempting to discover what it's like at other teams, but I've always wanted to retire here. It would make me proud if I one day am able to say that I spent my entire career here, from the first day 'till the last. I'll only leave this squad if it ceases to exist".

Due to Euskaltel's limited budget, it's no secret that Antón would have earned better money at a bigger team. The lure of higher wages have tempted many a rider to leave the their home team over the years, but for Antón it's never been about the money.

"Money is an important ingredient, but the sense of self-realization is what makes you do this for a living. Take a guy like Laiseka for example: injuries put paid to his career, but I'm sure he would have continued to ride for Euskaltel for nothing. I appreciate the money I'm earning, but I'm not wasting it. I know riders who, in their first year as professionals and with their first pay-checks, go and buy a car. I didn't buy a car until last year. It's a matter of priorities; mine was never the money".

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Astarloza set for 2012 Tour














Mikel Astarloza will in 2012, for the first time since that ill-fated 2009 edition, return to the Tour de France. The 32-year-old famously took a solo win on stage 16 into Bourg-Saint-Maurice in that year's race, but a subsequent EPO positive stripped the Pasajes-native of both his win and his honour. Now ready to embark on his first full season in the orange jersey, Astarloza will be one of Samu's right-hand men come July.

The rider reveals as much - as well as his race schedule leading up to the Grand Boucle - on his personal website. Astarloza is set for a year full of top-quality races, a year which may commence in Australia. At the time being it's still an unknown if he'll do the antipodean six-stage race, but, aside from that particular race, his schedule is pretty much set in stone:

  • (Tour Down Under, 17-24 January)
  • Challenge Mallorca, 5-9 February
  • Vuelta a Andalucía, 19-23 February
  • Paris-Nice, 4-11 March
  • Critérium International, 24-25 March
  • Vuelta al País Vasco, 2-7 April
  • Amstel Gold Race, 15 April
  • Fleche Wallonne, 18 April
  • Liège-Bastogne-Liège, 22 April
  • Tour de Romandi, 24-29 April
  • Tour de Suisse, 9-17 June
  • Tour de France, 30 June - 22 July
If Astarloza does go on to race in Australia (and the entire Challenge Mallorca), by my calculations he'll have done a full 50 days of racing prior to the Tour. That sounds excessive, but then again he's always been the type of rider - call it old-school if you like - doing a lot of racing versus training. Anyway, his top-level calendar proves he's once again back among the most trusted riders at Euskaltel.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Landa breaks collarbone













Mikel Landa has broken his collarbone for a third time this year, BiciCiclismo reports. The soon-to-be 22-year-old, who grabbed an impressive summit-finish win at the Lagunas de Neila in the Vuelta a Burgos this summer, broke the same collarbone (his right) at the Vuelta a Murcia and the Critérium du Dauphiné earlier this season. The well-informed Spanish website has it that Landa suffered the misfortune at the team training camp on Wednesday. Allegedly he was trying to catch up with his team-mates after a puncture, but then came a cropper on the wet roads. The Murgia-native will undergo surgery in Bilbao this coming Wednesday.

Vuelta al País Vasco 2012















The Vuelta al País Vasco will, as is the case every year, be the focal point of Euskaltel's 2012 season. The organizers of the team's home race yesterday revealed next year's recorrido - a route including two summit finishes.

The race - still a vital part of the UCI's WorldTour - will be held over six stages from the 2nd to the 7th of april over the following terrain:

Stage 1: Gueñes - Gueñes
Stage 2: Gueñes - Vitoria-Gasteiz
Stage 3: Vitoria-Gasteiz - Alto de Iberdin (Bera de Bidasoa)
Stage 4: Bera de Bidasoa - Santuario de Arrate
Stage 5: Eibar - Oñati
Stage 6: Oñati - Oñati (ITT)

The route is pretty similar to what's been the norm the last few years: several medium mountain days bookended with a final day time trial from and to the much-used location of Oñati, northeast of Vitoria-Gasteiz. What's new (and needed) though, is the inclusion of not one, but two mountain top finishes. We all know the Arrate, site of the finish of stage 4, but the climb of Iberdin will be knew to most of us. Once a mainstay of the race, the slopes of Iberdin hasn't featured since 1994 and is likely to tip the race more in the favour of the pure climbers (read Samu, Contador, Antón) than the puncheurs with time trial pedigree. Especially so considering the punishing Arrate is up the next day. Distinguishes riders like Gorospe, Chiapucci, Bolts and Cassani have all come out tops on the Iberdin in the past - the next one to do so might just go on to win the whole race.

Samu will lead the charge for Euskaltel and is as usual one of the pre-race favourites. Contador has stated his intention of taking part (is he's cleared of wrongdoing in the ever-lasting clenbuterol affair by the CAS that is), and the Schlecks have done the same. I assume Alejandro Valverde will also make an appearance, so the competition is likely to be fiercer than ever (but then again we say that every year). No matter the participation though, the inclusion of the Iberdin and the Arrate make the Vuelta al País Vasco stand out as one of the races to watch in 2o12.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Briefs

  • Given that Álex Díaz will take on a bigger role with Euskaltel next year, Aritz Arberas, former Naturgas rider and DS at the red team for the last few seasons, will be the man charged with directing Euskaltel's feeder team. Speaking at the team's presentation on Monday, Arberas spoke of his delight at taking over the reins at the Continental outfit. "I'm very pleased and highly motivated for this new challenge. A lot of riders have worn the blue of Orbea before stepping up into the elite ranks, so of course it's a big responsibility to lead this team. But I'm honoured to be given the chance", he told Orbea's website.
  • Euskaltel are set to stage another team training camp in January, BiciCiclismo reports. The team's three-day get-together in Derio just finished, but all the riders (perhaps with the exception of the team for Down Under) will meet up again in Derio or Alicante early in 2012.
  • Speaking of Down Under, three of four of the final eight-man squad will have their own camp in Alicante in early January. Urtasun and Gorka Izagirre might both be present, according to the same website.
  • Euskaltel will be leaving no stone unturned in their quest for success at next year's three Grand Tours. The Giro-bound trio of Nieve, Velasco and Txurruka will scout out some of the stages post-Vuelta a Murcia in March, while Samu and his loyal domestiques will inspect the most important Tour stages in May. Antón will do the same with a few team-mates in June with a view to the Vuelta a España.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Factfile

Name: Euskaltel Euskadi
Based: Bilbao, Vizcaya, Spain
Category: UCI ProTeam
UCI code: EUS
Founded: 1994
Budget: 6,8 mill. euro
Bicycle supplier: Orbea (esp)

Key personnel:
  • General manager: Igor González de Galdeano
  • Sport directors: Gorka Gerrikagoitia, Álvaro González de Galdeano, Iñaki Isasi, Óscar Guerrero
  • Coaches and reserve sport directors: Álex Díaz, Josu Bilbao,
  • Doctors: Eduardo González Salvador, Sergio Quílez
  • Masseurs: Borja Rodríguez, Andoni Arce, Ivan Armentia, Miguel Caravaca, Xabier Carbayeda, Joseba Lekue, Rufino Murguía
  • Mechanics: Luís Lamas, Tomás Amezaga, Eneko Larrea, Joxe Nazabal, José Cruz Mujicay
  • Psychologist: Sergio Torres
  • Press officer: Jesus Aizkorbe
(In total, Euskaltel Euskadi's staff counts 44 people)

Fundación Euskadi structure:
  • President: Miguel Madariaga Barrinaga
  • Vice president: Iñaki Zarate Barrenetxea
  • Members: José María Izaguirre Urquijo, José Javier Erkoreka Zulueta, Iñigo Urretxua García de la Vega
  • Secretary: José Javier García Ros
  • Treasurer: Pablo Allende Villanueva

Briefs

  • According to Miguel Madariaga, the team has brought telephone company Euskaltel an advertising value of approximately 120 million euro so far this year. The team has had the most exposure in Spain, France and the USA, but has also had presence in remote countries like Madagascar, Oman and Angola. The team's budget this year was 6,8 million euro - a far cry from the 27 million pesetas-budget (which corresponds to 160 000 euros) in the team's inaugural season back in 1994.
  • As was revealed yesterday, Euskaltel's 'big three' - Sánchez, Antón and Nieve - will all get their 2012 seasons underway at the Challenge Mallorca. Given that Cadel Evans and the Schlecks are also slated for the race, it'll be an interesting gauge of early-season form.
  • The disappearance of HTC and the merger of the 'Shack and Leopard have left many riders scrambling for a ride for next year. But as GARA pointed out a few days ago, Euskaltel would not have been a part of the UCI's 2012 WorldTour if it hadn't been for those developments. HTC, Leopard and the 'Shack would all have finished higher up than Euskaltel in the rankings and would have put the team outside the all-important top 20 - thus ruling Euskaltel out of contention for one of the three licences granted to teams ranked 15th to 20th.
  • Not sure if Euskaltel's 2011 season betters the legendary 2003? Or for that matter 2010? To put the season into perspective, I've compiled every victory obtained by the team (all 152 of them) into one document. Check out the full list of wins from 1994 to present here or access the overview in the right-hand menu under the 'Euskaltel section'.
  • Former Euskaltel great Haimar Zubeldia will be awarded a record-equalling fifth 'Best Basque in the Tour de France'-award this Friday by the Sociedad Urkamendi de Zirzurkil, el Diario Vasco reports. The prize is handed out annually to the highest-placed Basque rider on GC in the Tour, and the resident of Usurbil will join Indurain and Lejarreta as the only rider to have won the award five times. Euskaltel riders Nieve, Jon and Gorka Izagirre will be present at the celebration.
  • The mythical ramps of the Arrate will, for the first time since 1974, feature in the Vuelta a España. Click here for more info on stages in the Basque Country next year.
  • Euskaltel are apparently counting on support from an unusual source in 2012: the Gods. The team's website reports the team paid a visit to the Basilica of Begoña earlier today, offering the aptly-named parish priest Jesús Francisco de Garitaonandia a signed jersey and a bouquet of flowers. Chapeau!

"I want to retire here"











Despite the off-road travails facing his team, Samuel Sánchez is unequivocal in his stance: he wants to stay for life. He told BiciCiclismo as much at the team's pre-season camp in Derio yesterday.

"I've always said this is where I want to end my career. As I'm turning 34 in three months time, retirement is something I'm thinking more and more about", he admitted. "I feel a deep affection for the team, for Miguel (Madariaga), for everything that makes this team what it is. That's why I hope to retire here. Euskaltel deserve that - they gave me the chance to ride my bike for a living. Ending my career here would be my tribute to the team".

Despite apparently giving retirement a lot of thought, the Olympic champ is not planning to hang up the wheels anytime soon though.

"As I've said time and time again: I'll ride my bike as long as I like doing it. The day training becomes a struggle and results elude me, it'll be time to say goodbye. As long as I'm motivated and healthy I'll keep going. The 2014 Worlds in Ponferrada would be a nice experience, but I'll only stay on if I feel fit and competitive."

Calendars revealed

Gorka Gerrikagoitia has revealed the schedules of his three most prized assets: Mikel Nieve, Igor Antón and Samuel Sánchez. The former will race exclusively in Spain in the lead-up to the Giro, while Antón will take in the Ardennes Classics and, for the first time, the Tour of Poland prior to the Vuelta. Contrary to what the rider himself said yesterday, it looks likely Samu will indeed ride the hilly classics. These schedules are preliminary, mind you. Here goes:

  • Mikel Nieve: Challenge Mallorca, Clásica Almería, Vuelta a Murcia, Volta a Catalunya, GP Miguel Indurain, Klasika Primavera, Vuelta Castilla y León, GP Llodio, Vuelta La Rioja and Giro d'Italia.
  • Igor Antón: Challenge Mallorca, Vuelta a Andalucía, Paris-Nice, Volta a Catalunya, GP Miguel Indurain, Klasika Primavera, (Vuelta al País Vasco?), Vuelta a Castilla y León, Fleche Wallonne, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Tour de Romandia, Vuelta a Madrid, Tour of Poland, Klasika Ordizia, Clásica San Sebastián, Vuelta a Burgos and Vuelta a España.
  • Samuel Sánchez: Challenge Mallorca, Vuelta a Andalucía, Clásica Almería, Vuelta a Murcia, Volta a Catalunya, Vuelta al País Vasco, Amstel Gold Race, Fleche Wallonne, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Criterium du Dauphiné and Tour de France.
Source: www.biciciclismo.com

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Up for the challenge











Euskaltel may be heading into its final season in 2012, but Gorka Gerrikagoitia - charged with leading the team in the absence of Igor González de Galdeano - remains unfazed. Speaking to el Diario Vasco at the team's camp in Derio yesterday, the DS said improving on this year's performances is not impossible.

"It sure won't be easy, but I do believe we can equal this year or maybe go even better", the former rider said. "This year's performance in the Giro will be difficult to replicate, but, aside from that race, I'd say it's feasible to improve. Samu won a stage and the KOM jersey and placed sixth overall in the Tour this year, but he might finished higher up next summer. We were pleased with the Vuelta, but we can do better there."

"Igor González de Galdeano staked out a path while he was at the helm that I intend to follow. In addition only three riders will join, so, from a sporting point of view at least, 2012 will be pretty similar to this year. I'm not afraid of the challenges ahead of me. The youngsters on the team will be a year older and wiser, and the veterans will do their part. I'm pleased with the group of riders we have here."

Gerrikagoitia reiterated País Vasco, the Tour and the Vuelta will be the main goals, and outlined which riders are likely to make the cut for for the biggest races.

"Samuel Sánchez will lead the team in the Tour, while Igor Antón will head up affairs in the Vuelta. Mikel Nieve will, together with Amets Txurruka, focus on the Giro. And Antón will have Iván Velasco by his side in Spain. The riders in the best shape, whether young or old, will take on País Vasco. Víctor Cabedo, for example, may race if he's in shape. We'll depend on veterans though in the Tour and Vuelta, and the likes of Verdugo, Martínez, Azanza and Oroz might also do País Vasco. Mikel Astarloza, Ricardo García, Romain Sicard, Gorka Izagirre, Rubén Pérez and Pablo Urtasun are slated for Down Under, and Astarloza will go on to race a pretty stacked calendar in the first half of the season."

The experienced directeur sportif also had a word for the troubled Romain Sicard, who's been in trouble both on and off the road recently.

"We really hope Sicard will get back into shape, that's why he'll start out in Australia. We need Sicard at this team".

Monday, November 21, 2011

Just in: Euskaltel bag licence
















The International Cycling Union tonight announced that Euskaltel have been allocated one of the three remaining WorldTour-licences up for grabs, meaning the team will once again form part of professional cycling's elite in 2012.

Euskaltel, Francaise des Jeux and Ag2r - La Mondiale were awarded the licences, meaning Bernaudau's Europcar outfit came up short. Geox-TMC naturally retracted their application once their eponymous sponsor pulled out towards the end of October.

2012 WorldTour teams: Ag2r - La Mondiale, Astana, BMC, FDJ, Euskaltel, Garmin - Cervélo, Katusha, Lampre - ISD, Liquigas - Cannondale, Lotto - Belisol, Movistar, Omega Pharma - Quick-Step, Rabobank, Saxo Bank - Sungard, Sky, Vacansoleil - DCM. (The UCI are awaiting RadioShack and GreenEdge to send over additional documents, but their 2012 WorldTour-status is not believed to be at stake.)

Report: FDJ and Ag2r receive licences

Several trustworthy websites tonight report French duo Francaise des Jeux and Ag2r have been awarded WorldTour-licences for the coming season. As of yet there's no word on who'll receive the third and final one, but I assume that'll be revealed before midnight or tomorrow morning. Stay tuned.

Star trio to aim for GT tripple













As anticipated, top trio Mikel Nieve, Samuel Sánchez and Igor Antón will divide the Grand Tours of 2012 between them: the former will aim for the Giro, Samu will of course do the Tour and Antón will focus on the Vuelta. None of the three will double up and do two GTs next year, DS Gorka Gerrikagoitia has revealed.

"Obviously our biggest objective will be the Tour", Gerrikagoitia, who'll take over from de Galdeano almost by default, told BiciCiclismo earlier today. "There's no doubt about that. Samu will do his utmost in France, but the Giro also holds significance to us. Nieve was originally slated for the Tour this year, but he'll instead return to Italy. The Vuelta is for Antón."

"Nieve has got a big engine: he's done three GT's and finished 10th, 11th and 12th. He did well this year, winning a stage, so we hope he'll finish top 10 and maybe be in the fight for a stage win as well. Antón will do a similar calendar to what he did two years ago. He was not at his bets this year - that was obvious from day one. We believe he's capable of a podium place. As for Samu's chances, I think he can be right up there if he shows the same kind of form in the time trials as he did in Grenoble this summer. He did his best Tour this year: if he hadn't cracked at the Galibier, who knows where he might have ended up!"

Sicard set for Down Under















Having been sidelined for the better part of a year, Romain Sicard is understandably keen to hit the ground running in 2012. The Frenchman will therefore make a return to the Tour Down Under in January - scene of his debut with Euskaltel back in 2009.

"Having sat out almost the entire season, I'd like to start racing as soon as possible next year", the 23-year-old told BiciCiclismo. "I had a chat with Gorka Gerrikagoitia, and it's more than likely I'll start off in Australia. I think Down Under would do me good. Getting in the miles in mild temperatures would be the best way for me to finish my pre-season preparations."

Sicard didn't further disclose his 2012 plans, but stay tuned the coming days for updates.

Samu reveals tentative 2012 calendar














País Vasco, the Tour and the Olympics are in, the Classics and the Vuelta are most likely not. That's the latest word on Samu's 2012 schedule, coming right from the team's get-together in Derio. The Olympic champion sat down with BiciCiclismo's Unai Iraragorri yesterday to discuss the coming year, and Samu is pinning it all on July.

"I'll focus on the Tour, that's for sure. But I'll be realistic: winning the Tour is probably out of my reach", he admitted. "I'll fight for 'real' targets. Winning will be almost impossible as some of my rivals are that tiny bit better. Not admitting as much would be foolish. Alberto Contador is almost unbeatable, but I might aim for a stage, the podium and the KOM jersey like I did this year. It'll be hard to repeat what we achieved last year, though".

A return to the Vuelta a España - once he's favourite stomping ground - is not likely to come anytime soon though, but he will take on the other big Vuelta: País Vasco.

"País Vasco figures in my plans, but I haven't made my mind up yet on the Ardennes Classics. I'll probably do something like 20-30 racing days prior to the Tour, but as of yet I'm not really sure where or when I'll start the season. Paris-Nice is a tough race; if I go there I'll have to be in decent shape. What I'm sure of though is that we'll have to plan the season to perfection in order to start the Tour in optimal shape."

As the defending champion, the London Olympics is of course another big objective next summer. The course is rumoured to suit the likes of Cavendish and Sagan more than climbers like himself, but the Euskaltel captain is holding out hope the parcours will get rid of the speed-merchants and open the door to someone like him.

"The course has been talked about a lot already. Granted, if the route is indeed flat, it might be to Cavendish's liking. But I believe every one-day race above 200 kilometres, and especially this one with those demanding final nine laps, will be hard. I spoke with (national coach) José Luís De Santos, and he told me it'll be a tough race with favourable conditions for us Spaniards: not much rain, and not excessive heat. How I'll do depends on the Tour. But if everything goes to plan I'll be in London."

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Injury-plagued rider on the mend



















Remember this fellow? After having almost all of last season wiped out by injury, you'd be excused if you didn't. 24-year-old Andoni Blázquez has been haunted by a recurring knee injury since late 2010, but still has the confidence of the Orbea bosses. In 2012 he aims to pay his employer back and deliver on his promise.

"I'll stay with Orbea, but I'm not really sure if I'll be ready for the start of the season", the Astigarraga-native told Iban Mayo Blog. "I'm still troubled by my knee, but it's improving continuously. We're looking to get rid of the problem for good".

The former Bidelan-Kirolgi rider, who joined Orbea in time for the 2009 season, made a brief return to competition this summer at the Volta ao Alentejo. Blázquez naturally struggled to impose himself in his first race back, but came through the four-stage race in 102nd place. He went on to finish 41st in the Klasika Ordizia, but despite telling El Pedal de Frodo at the time that the pain in his knee was gone, the troubles has come back to haunt him. Understandably, he's taking a modest approach to 2012.

"It's too early to set specific goals for next year - we'll see how my recovery evolves. But during my time on the sidelines I've realized that riding my bike for a living is what I really want to do. Mentally I think I'm ready, but how my body responds remains to be seen. I want to remain a professional cyclist, so I'm very grateful Orbea is relying on me."

Andoni Blázquez is one of two ingocnitos for Orbea in 2012. Together with Xavier Zabalo - who crashed so badly in Italy this summer - he's got a spot on the team if his health allows it. With both Blázquez and Zabalo likely to recover sufficiently, Orbea's class of 2012 will count 11 riders: Fraile, Orbe, Zuazubiskar, Barbero and Merino will all team up, whilst Aberasturi, Etxebarria, Bizkarra and Bagües will stay on.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Antón reflects on "season of contrast"













It was (as usual I'm tempted to say) a season of ups and downs for Igor Antón. Winning stages in two different Grand Tours in one season would represent the season of a lifetime for most professional cyclists - but then again the wiry climber from Galdakao isn't just any professional cyclist. Here's his take on 2011:
  • The season as a whole: It was a season of contrasts. I failed in terms of GC in the Vuelta, and the Giro was very hard. But then again I did win atop the Zoncolan. It was an unforgettable year.
  • Best win: From a sporting point of view it's got to be the Giro stage. But from another point of view, the win in Bilbao was special. It was unique: it was the first stage in the Basque Country for 33 years, and all my fans and family were present.
  • Grand Tours: I don't want to make excuses for myself, but something always seems to go wrong in three-week races. But at times I've been lucky as well; there are always positives. I suffered both physically and psychologically in the Giro and the Vuelta this year, but at the end I was rewarded.
  • 2012: It'll be pretty similar to this year. I'm not likely to do the Giro though, but I'll aim for the Vuelta. It'll be my seventh time at the race, so I feel ready to challenge.
  • Samuel Sánchez: We do loads of races together, but we need to split up the calendar to give the team presence throughout the season. He's always successful, and he did a fantastic Tour this year.
  • Off-season: My parents have a house in Castroviejo (Navarra). It's the perfect place to disconnect and take some time off. I love the place, but I haven't had the time to spend much time there lately. In terms of exercise, I'm doing a lot of hiking.
  • Tour de France: I want to do the Tour, of course. I have a lot of respect for that race, but I won't go back there until 2013 at the earliest. I'm not in a hurry. But I would like to win a stage there once just to be able to say I've won a stage in every Grand Tour.
  • The state of Spanish cycling: Earlier today I heard 50 riders are out of contract and without a team for next year. The future isn't looking rosy in Spain, but in England, the US and in China cycling is on the up.
Source: www.larioja.com

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Briefs

  • Samu Sánchez underwent successful surgery on his hip yesterday, reports Euskaltel's homepage. The team captain was taken to the Hospital de Begoña in Gijon to have some tissue repaired, but the operation is not thought to hamper Samu's preparations for the coming season.
  • Former Euskaltel rider Aitor Hernández does not envisage returning to the professional peloton in the future. Hernández was released by Euskaltel this time last year after seven years as pro (that also took in a spell at Italian team LPR), but hasn't been able to find a team since and is now representing Orbea in the cyclo-cross scene. "Honestly, I have pretty much given up on returning to the road", he told El Pedal de Frodo. "But road racing is not that important to me any more as I've changed my focus. I was very lucky being able to ride professionally for seven years. Riding for Euskaltel was a dream, but I'm enjoying my life now as well".
  • Igor Antón will share his Grand Tour experience with an audience at the fourth Conference of Cycling in Logroño next Thursday. The conference will bring together a host of household names to talk about different subjects in the sport over two days. Among others, fellow Basque Imanol Erviti of Movistar will be present to talk about safety measures in the sport, writes www.larioja.com.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Euskaltel make their case













Euskaltel appeared before the UCI's Licence Commission in Lausanne yesterday to answer questions concerning their WorldTour-licence bid for 2012. Miguel Madariaga was accompanied by outgoing team chief Igor González de Galdeano and Orbea representative Joseba Arizaga, and the Fundación Euskadi supremo was cautiously optimistic when speaking to the press earlier today.

"I'm neither optimistic nor pessimistic, but I do think we'll obtain the licence", was his rather strange comment according to GARA. "The meeting lasted for approximately 20 minutes, and we answered questions regarding the economic and sporting aspects of the team as well as the future of team post 2012. But I can't really draw any conclusions. We defended our candidature, but I can't say if we did it well or not. What I can say, though, is that we did better than in years past. They didn't tell us if we would be awarded a licence though, they'll inform us on Monday".

Intriguingly, the UCI are reported to have asked the team representatives about whether they'll stay true to their philosophy of only recruiting riders from the Basque Country. The answer was, mildly put, interesting.

"I told them that we'd go with any philosophy they would want us to go with. And I also told them it's no big surprise we couldn't finish inside the top 15 of their rankings with 15 young Basques on the team."

This doesn't suggest Euskaltel will "open" the team to foreign riders - not in the near future anyway - but it does confirm that Madariaga is no stranger to the idea. He's expressed similar views in the past, but at least there's no reports of the UCI requiring a change in philosophy.

Check back on Monday to learn whether Euskaltel will stay WorldTour or go Pro Conti next year.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Briefs: UCI rankings/team-camp/Samu

  • Samuel Sánchez has finished inside the top 10 in the UCI's Pro Tour/WorldTour rankings in all but one year since 2006. His results read: 2006: 2nd. 2007: 9th. 2009: 3rd. 2010: 10th. 2011: 7th. I doubt anyone in the pro peloton matches that. Consistent.
  • Euskaltel will get their preparations for 2012 underway next week. The whole team, all 23 of them, will get together in Derio for three days starting this coming Monday to lay out the plans for next season. Source: www.fundacioneuskadi.com
  • If Samu really as polite and likeable as he looks on TV? Most definitely so, according to Nacho Lebarga. "He's a charming man. He handles the media and the journalists very well", the Marca journalist told Iban Mayo Blog. "I've been lucky enough to interview him a few times, and it's always enjoyable. Not only is he a strong rider; he's excellent with journalists and team-mates".

Monday, November 14, 2011

Antón likely to skip 2012 Giro



















It seems increasingly likely that Monte Zoncolan-conqueror Igor Antón will indeed skip next year's Giro in favour of a Vuelta a España-centred calendar. He revealed as much when talking to Spanish cycling mag Meta2Mil over the weekend.

"I have two options: either I do the Giro and the Vuelta like I did this year, or I'll only do the Vuelta like I did in 2010. If I opt for the latter option, I'll also be able to perform well in other races that suit me like Romandie and the one-day Classics. I would prefer to focus solely on the Vuelta next year - that race has given me so much. I know it's a gamble to bet everything on one race, but that's a risk I'm willing to take. I'll go for the overall win. After that I'll have time to go for other races. But in 2012, the Vuelta is what motivates me", he explained.

An appearance at the Tour is out of the question - for now at least. The Galdakao native says this year's course is not to his taste, but doesn't rule out coming back to France one day.

"I don't really like the parcours. The almost 100 kilometres against the clock favours the time trialists, and I'm not one of them. I would like to aim for the race some time in the future, but when I do I think I'll go for a stage over the overall. The Giro and the Vuelta are more suited to me - both in terms of the races' profile and my characteristics as a rider. I'd like to go all out for the Giro once as well".

Despite having attracted offers from pretty much every top team in the world out there over the last few years, Antón remains ever-loyal towards his local team. And as long as the sponsors stay on, he'll stay on as well.

"I want to stay for many years. I feel comfortable here, and the guys in charge of the team have always believed in me. I might be forced to leave in 2013, but that won't be because I would like to. I want to stay with Euskaltel".

Cabedo set for debut season















Víctor Cabedo might be a relative unknown to most, but the 22-year-old is intent on making waves in the Euskaltel jersey next year in his first season among the pros. The youngster will make the step up into the big league after just a single - though highly successful - season in the Orbea ranks. Talking to Iban Mayo Blog yesterday, the Vuelta a Asturias stage-winner seemed slightly surprised at being 'promoted' so quickly.

"To be honest, I've wanted to join Euskaltel ever since I joined Orbea", he said. "And I'm not really surprised I made it, but spending just a year at Orbea was unexpected. I penned a two-year deal with the team, and I'll look to continue to mature as a cyclist next year".

DEIA journo Alain Laiseka is confident Cabedo will make it at Euskaltel, saying he's got the work ethic and engine needed to forge a successful career at the highest level.

"He's got a big future ahead of him - he's got a big motor. He was incredible at Orbea last year: he won a stage in the Vuelta a Asturias solo and was so strong in Amorebieta, Almería and so on. He's a great rider: he works hard and is a model professional", Laiseka told Iban Mayo Blog.

Despite seeming to excel in one-day races and on flat or mildly lumpy terrain, Cabedo is keen to prove himself in stage-racing. If he gets his wish, he'll get the chance to impress in a few high-profile stage-races already next year.

"I'm more attracted to three-week racing if I'm honest, but seeing as I'm still only 22 I'm not ruling out anything. I've got a lot to learn, so the next few years will likely show where I'm able to perform. Next year's schedule isn't set yet, but I'd love to do some one-week races like Paris-Nice, Tirreno-Adriatico or Volta a Catalunya. But most of all I'm aiming to continue my progression".

Víctor Cabedo is one of a trio of Orbea riders making the move to Euskaltel in 2012: Ricardo García and Adrián Sáez will also make the jump.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Peña Jorge Azanza

Professional photographer Iñaki Azanza sent over the following images from last night's Peña Jorge Azanza party where his brother Jorge, who's about to embark on his sixth year with the team, had his annual dinner with friends and colleagues. Among the attendees were team masseur Murgia, former Euskaltel riders Galdós, Lafuente and Galparsoro, Orbea rider Zabalo and team-mates Isasi, Sáez and Gorka Izagirre.



Saturday, November 12, 2011

Open letter from Sicard

Romain Sicard has issued the following statement on his own website this morning:


During the night from Wednesday to Thursday this week, after a dinner with friends, my behaviour was immature and irresponsible. I want to apologize to everyone who believe in me and have shown their support these last few days: my family and my fans, and as well the young ones out there to whom I've set a bad example. And, above all, I'd like to take this opportunity to apologize to my team, the sponsors, the staff and my colleagues for the damage I've done to the image of Euskaltel Euskadi and their principles. The hard way, I have experienced the need for impeccable behaviour. I now look towards the future, and I hope that through athletic performances I can forget this episode.

Briefs: Sicard/Fraile/Galdeano

  • Though Euskaltel are set to open an internal investigation into Sicard's encounter with the police in Toulouse yesterday, Miguel Madariaga isn't coming down too hard on the 23-year-old. "What can I say, these things happen with people his age", he told DEIA. "But obviously I can't just close my eyes and pretend nothing happened". Sicard is alleged to have phoned the Euskaltel supremo himself to explain exactly what happened in the early hours on November 11.
  • Orbea recruit Omar Fraile was voted "Best Vízcayan Amateur Cyclist of 2011" on Thursday. The annual award - which have been handed out to riders like Txurruka, Castroviejo, Intxausti, Antón, Euba and Peio Bilbao in the past (to name but a few) - was handed to the climber yesterday in Mungia in the presence of Naturgas Energía representatives Urretxua, Arberas and Zarate, future team-mate Haritz Orbe and Santi Barranco, his DS at Seguros Bilbao. Source: BiciCiclismo.
  • Álvaro González de Galdeano - likely to be handed more responsibility at the team in 2012 following his brother Igor's resignation - is one of 50 sport directors to have attended the UCI's annual training course at the World Cycling Center in Aigle, Switzerland this year, Cyclingnews reports.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Sicard arrested

Romain Sicard has allegedly been taken into custody by French police over a drunken incident this morning in Toulouse, reports VeloNation. The 23-year-old, who's had his entire season wiped out by injuries, is supposed to have been caught trying to put a traffic sign into his car. A subsequent breath test found him to be under the influence of alcohol.

Euskaltel issued a statement just a few hours ago on its official website, saying Sicard himself notified the team of the incident. They'll "meet up with the rider soon" to study the case in detail, and they'll be "strict in the implementation of its internal code of conduct".

There's no word (understandably) about the incident on Sicard's own website, and at this moment in time there's no further information available. Stay tuned for updates throughout the weekend.

"Landa is the future"














Despite the current crisis facing Spanish cycling and the rather lacklustre showing by the elite men at the Copenhagen Worlds, national coach José Luis de Santos is staying optimistic. Speaking to sports daily Marca, the 43-year-old claimed the future is bright.

"We have loads of strong riders now, and that will continue to be the case in the future. We've got several top quality youngsters: Jesús Herrada (Movistar), Mikel Landa (who beat Vuelta champ Cobo to the win at Lagunas de Neila in this summer's Vuelta a Burgos) and Juan José Lobato (Andalucía - Caja Granada). They're our future", de Santos, who sadly lost his father a couple of days ago, said.

El Seleccionador also offered his take on the Olympics coming up in London next year - and hinted Samu will be a vital part of his line-up.

"It's too early to tell which riders we'll take to the race, but it's clear that the parcours isn't as easy as people seem to think. I'll check it out in January, but already now I can say I don't think it's suited to Cavendish. I think it's more for riders like Valverde and Freire. We can only bring five riders, so everyone selected will have to attentive and ready for the race, like Samuel".

Despite not having competed for a year and a half, Valverde seems like a shoo-in for the race. So too does Freire - if more for his palmarès than anything else. Samu also seems assured of a berth, so no worries there. De Santos has an embarrassment of riches to choose from for the remaining two spots, but, considering the course's nature, I presume he'll bring someone like JJ Rojas and Juan Antonio Flecha with him to England.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Grijalba explains goodbye














Given his three wins and obvious potential, it was a surprise to see Fernando Grijalba leave Naturgas at the end of the season. Or rather: it was a surprise to see the young pucnheur not being offered a deal at Orbea. Instead the opted to join Caja Rural's all-conquering amateur side. Speaking to Cobbels and Hills, he explained why.

"My leaving was mainly due to a need for a change - something new and challenging", he confided. "Actually I'm very grateful to the Fundación Euskaid for the chance they gave me, but, as I said, I needed a change and Caja Rural offered me a good schedule. Hopefully I'll be able to pay them back for the trust they've placed in me."

Grijalba posted wins in Ereño, La Puebla and Oñati this year, and was quite happy with his performances throughout 2011.

"I worked really hard, I took care of my body, I trained well... and I feel it paid off. The biggest plus was that I was able to stay with the strongest riders in almost all races. It wasn't like in previous seasons when I tended to drop in and out of form. I managed to sustain my form for long periods and ended the season on a high".

"Next year, I want to do more of the same: being consistent all year. I want to do well in the Spanish Cup, grab a podium spot in one of the stage-races and be competitive at the National Championships. In addition, I'd like to represent my country in every possible race."

While some departures from Naturgas have been made official, there's still been no word from the Fundación as to who'll make up the roster in 2012.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Euskaltel for sale?











VeloFutur ran an interesting story yesterday on the future of telecommunications company Euskaltel. According to the well-informed website, the company may be up for sale.

A few weeks back, VeloFutur reported that Euskaltel were in the process of buying the leading telecommunications company in Asturias: Telecable. An eventual purchase of the Asturian firm would likely see a radical change in the team's philosophy, so there was a certain amount of relief when news came in that the deal had broken down. It now transpires though that Euskaltel itself might be sold.

Euskaltel was formed by a joint effort from the Basque Government and Basque public savings banks back in 1995. The latter, the public savings banks, owns a 67 percent share in the company. In light of the tough economic climate in Spain, the three Basque savings banks (BKK, Caja Vital and Kutxa) merged to create the Kutxa Bank in late October. An eventual sale of Euskaltel would therefore, according to the website, provide Kutxa Bank with a large injection of money.

The American-based Carlyle Group, who only last month acquired an 85 percent share in the aforementioned Telecable, and world-leading equity firm CVC Capital Partners are purportedly the two most likely buyers, but as of yet nothing is official. How it'll affect the team and its economy is also a big unknown, but it might have an impact of the team's future beyond 2012. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

How they rate 2011

It's been a year of great wins: from Zoncolan to Luz Ardiden, from Arrate to Lagunas de Neila, from Val di Fassa to Bilbao. By some, 2011 has been characterized as the team's finest - even better than the breakthrough season of 2003. Here's how a select few experts Iban Mayo Blog got in touch with rates the recently-concluded season:


Alain Laiseka (Spanish cycling expert and DEIA journalist):
This year's been awesome. It's not the best one if you judge it by the number of wins alone - the team won 17 races in 2010 compared to ten this year - but there's a vital difference: most of this year's wins have been in high-quality races. Two stages in the Giro, one in the Tour, the King of the Mountains Jersey in the same race, a stage in the Vuelta a España, a stage in País Vasco, a stage in Romandie... These are all big victories. Even more, those two stages in the Giro and standing atop the podium in Paris were historic achievements. Overall, I'd say 2011 is comparable to 2003, one of the most memorable years in the team's history: winning País Vasco, beating Armstrong to two stage-wins in the Dauphiné, winning at Alpe d'Huez...

There's been so many highs this year, but if I had to pick one win that ranks above the rest I'd say Antón's in Bilbao. That was the most emotional moment, for me anyway, this year. Why? Because of the Vuelta's return to the Basque Country and the rider who won the stage. It's up there with Roberto Laiseka's win at Luz Ardiden ten years ago! The image of Antón crossing the line alone on the Gran Vía in Bilbao, close to the Guggenheim museum, will forever stay in the minds of the fans. We will never forget that moment. I don't think Antón ever will either. That's the moment of the year.

Ole Kristian Stoltenberg (Norwegian Eurosport commentator):
It's been a good season for the team, but obviously it's hard to compare different seasons. On the positive side were the Grand Tour stage-wins and Samu's strong ride at the Tour. On the negative side was Antón's unsuccessful bid for the GC at the Vuelta. He looked ready to win the thing already last year but was well off the pace right from the off this time round. Considering the Vuelta was back in the Basque Country for the first time in a long, long time, that was a shame. That being said though, his win in Bilbao was a nice consolation. All in all a very good season - which makes it hard to comprehend why the sponsors seem so reluctant to stay on.

Unai Iraragorri (Spanish cycling journalist at www.biciciclismo.com):
It's been a very good year for Euskaltel. Winning stages in the Giro, Tour and Vuelta, all in the same year, is not easy. Even less so considering the team's budget and philosophy. Watching Antón beat Contador and Nibali at the Zoncolan was impressive. That's my highlight of the season.

Nacho Lebarga (Spanish cycling journalist at Marca):
The team won more races last year, but it's beyond doubt it's been a special season for the team. Grabbing wins in all three GTs is quite something. Samu was impressive at the Tour, winning one of the most prestigious stages and taking home the polkadot jersey. The one disappointment was Antón's failed Vuelta challenge - he was touted as one of the biggest favourites pre-race. He did succeed on the stage to Bilbao though. Mikel Nieve's good performances, which showed he's ready for more leadership duties, was another plus. On a scale from one to ten, I'd give Euskaltel an eight.

Samu standing atop the podium in Paris and Antón winning solo in Bilbao were the highlights. Both were sensational. The latter was so important for the Basques, but, frankly, Samu's achievements in the Tour were more important.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Briefs

  • Euskaltel's ten victories this year were taken by five different riders: Antón, Nieve, Castroviejo, Sánchez and Landa. Of those five, only the latter hadn't taken one previously. That means 12 riders on next year's roster will have wins to their name, while the other 11 are still to open their palmarès'. In short: 52 percent of next year's roster of 23 have won a professional bike race. While these numbers still leave a lot to be desired, they're substantially higher than what's been the case in the last few years.
  • Aitor Hernández grabbed his maiden win of the year this weekend. The former Euskaltel rider came out tops in Saturday's cyclo-cross race in Colindres, beating José Antonio Díez and Erlantz Uriarte to take top honours. Another erstwhile Euskaltel stalwart, Aketza Peña Iza, finished up fourth. Hernández was hoping to repeat Saturday's heroics on home turf in Ermua yesterday, but could not live with the impressive Egoitz Murgoitio and had to settle for second. Fellow Orbea rider and mountain bike specialist Iñaki Lejarreta rounded out the podium.
  • Several Euskaltel riders turned up for this weekend's Subida a Orozketa in Iurreta, Basque cycling's end of season celebration. Koldo Fernández, Iñaki Isasi, Jorge Azanza, Rubén Pérez and Mikel Landa represented their team, while current and former greats such as Juanjo Cobo, Beñat Intxausti, David de la Fuente, Aitor Galdós and Igor Astarloa also took to the start line. Vuelta-victor Cobo took the win ahead of Landa and another former Euskaltel veteran, Iker Camaño. The outgoing Isasi was honoured by his colleagues towards the end of the day, and was presented with a framed "goodbye-letter", so to speak, written by retired rider (and now journalist) Pedro Horrillo.

Complete list of wins

1994: 2

  • Stage 5, Vuelta al País Vasco - Agustín Sagasti
  • Stage 5, Vuelta a Castille y León - Juan Carlos González Salvador
1995: 4
  • Stage 2, Vuelta a los Valles Mineros - César Solaun
  • Stage 4, Volta ao Algarve - Asier Guenetxea
  • Stage 8, Volta ao Algarve - Asier Guenetxea
  • Stage 1, Jornal do Noticias - Asier Guenetxea
1996: 6
  • Stage 7, Volta ao Alentejo - Asier Guenetxea
  • Stage 5, Gran Premio Sport Noticias - Igor González de Galdeano
  • Stage 4, Vuelta a Asturias - Igor González de Galdeano
  • Stage 1b (team time trial), Vuelta La Rioja
  • Spanish National Time Trial Championships - Iñigo González de Heredia
  • Memorial Galera - Iñaki Aiarzagüena
1997: 2
  • Stage 8, Vuelta a Mexico - Igor Flores
  • Stage 4, Vuelta a los Vallos Mineros - Igor González de Galdeano
1998: 6
  • Stage 2, Jornal do Noticias - Alvaro González de Galdeano
  • Clásica Sabiñánigo - Igor González de Galdeano
  • Stage 5, Vuelta a Galicia - Igor González de Galdeano
  • Stage 7, Volta a Portugal - Unai Etxebarria
  • Stage 12, Volta a Portugal - Unai Etxebarria
  • Stage 8, Tour de l'Avenir - Txema del Olmo
1999: 4
  • Stage 1, GP Mitsubishi - Aitor Silloniz
  • Stage 4, Jornal do Noticias - Alberto Martínez
  • Stage 1, GP du Midi-Libre - Alberto Martínez
  • Stage 18, Vuelta a España - Roberto Laiseka
2000: 15
  • Stage 4 (ITT), GP Portugal Telecom - Alberto Martínez
  • Stage 1, Setmana Catalana - Unai Etxebarria
  • Klasika Primavera - Unai Etxebarria
  • Stage 1, Jornal do Noticias - Mikel Artetxe
  • Stage 4, Jornal do Noticias - Mikel Artetxe
  • Overall, Jornal do Noticias - Mikel Artetxe
  • Stage 1, Vuelta a Asturias - Albert López de Muñain
  • Stage 4b (ITT), Euskal Bizikleta - Haimar Zubeldia
  • Overall, Euskal Bizikleta - Haimar Zubeldia
  • Prologue, Dauphiné Libéré - Alberto López de Muñain
  • Stage 1, Vuelta a Burgos - Alberto Martínez
  • Stage 11, Vuelta a España - Roberto Laiseka
  • Stage 8, Tour de l'Avenir - Aitor Kintana
  • Stage 9, Tour de l'Avenir - Iker Flores
  • Overall, Tour de l'Avenir - Iker Flores
2001: 12
  • Stage 5, Vuelta a Andalucía - Mikel Artetxe
  • Stage 3, Vuelta a Valencia - David Etxebarria
  • Stage 3, Setmana Catalana - Aitor Silloniz
  • Stage 4, Vuelta al País Vasco - Ángel Castresana
  • Stage 4, Vuelta La Rioja - Igor Flores
  • Stage 2, Clásica de Alcobendas - Alberto López de Muñain
  • Stage 5, Vuelta a Asturias - Alberto López de Muñain
  • Overall, GP du Midi-Libre - Ibán Mayo
  • Classique des Alpes -Ibán Mayo
  • Stage 3, Dauphiné Libéré - Unai Etxebarria
  • Stage 6, Dauphiné Libéré - Ibán Mayo
  • Stage 14, Tour de France - Roberto Laiseka
2002: 8
  • Stage 3 (Trofeo Manacor - Porto Cristo), Challenge Mallorca - Igor Flores
  • Overall, Critérium International - Alberto Martínez
  • Stage 5a, Vuelta al País Vasco - David Etxebarria
  • Stage 5b (ITT), Vuelta al País Vasco - David Etxebarria
  • Stage 1, Vuelta a Castilla y León - David Herrero
  • Stage 4a, Euskal Bizikleta - David Etxebarria
  • Stage 5, Troféu Joaquim Agostinho - Mikel Artetxe
  • Stage 7, Tour de l'Avenir - Aitor Silloniz
2003: 13
  • Stage 1, Vuelta al País Vasco - Ibán Mayo
  • Stage 5a, Vuelta al País Vasco - Ibán Mayo
  • Stage 5b (ITT), Vuelta al País Vasco - Ibán Mayo
  • Overall, Vuelta al País Vasco - Ibán Mayo
  • Stage 1, Vuelta La Rioja - David Herrero
  • Stage 1, Euskal Bizikleta - David Etxebarria
  • Prologue, Dauphiné Libéré - Ibán Mayo
  • Stage 4, Dauphiné Libéré - Ibán Mayo
  • Stage 1, GP Torres Vedras - Troféu Joaquim Agostinho - Lander Euba
  • Stage 8, Tour de France - Ibán Mayo
  • Stage 5, Vuelta a Burgos - Gorka González
  • Stage 4, Vuelta a España - Unai Etxebarria
  • Overall, Tour de l'Avenir - Egoi Martínez
2004: 11 (14)
  • Stage 5 (Trofeo Calvia), Challenge Mallorca - Unai Etxebarria
  • Stage 1, Clásica de Alcobendas - Ibán Mayo
  • Stage 2, Clásica de Alcobendas - Ibán Mayo
  • Overall, Clásica de Alcobendas - Ibán Mayo
  • GP Llodio - Unai Etxebarria
  • Stage 5, Euskal Bizikleta - Roberto Laiseka
  • Subida al Naranco - Ibán Mayo
  • Overall, Vuelta a Asturias - Ibán Mayo
  • Prologue, Dauphiné Libéré - Ibán Mayo
  • Stage 4, Dauphiné Libéré - Ibán Mayo
  • Overall, Dauphiné Libéré - Ibán Mayo
  • (Road race, time trial and overall, Escalada a Montjuïc - Samuel Sánchez)
2005: 9 (11)
  • Stage 2, Clásica de Alcobendas - David Herrero
  • GP Llodio - David Herrero
  • Stage 4b (ITT), Euskal Bizikleta - David Herrero
  • Overall, Dauphiné Libéré - Iñigo Landaluze
  • Stage 9, Tour de Suisse - Aitor González
  • Overall, Tour de Suisse - Aitor González
  • Stage 5, Vuelta a Burgos - David Herrero
  • Stage 11, Vuelta a España - Roberto Laiseka
  • Stage 13, Vuelta a España - Samuel Sánchez
  • (Time trial and overall, Escalada a Montjuïc - Samuel Sánchez)
2006: 11 (13)
  • Stage 2, Vuelta al País Vasco - Samuel Sánchez
  • Stage 3, Vuelta al País Vasco - Samuel Sánchez
  • Stage 5, Euskal Bizikleta - David Herrero
  • Stage 6, Dauphiné Libéré - Ibán Mayo
  • Stage 3, Vuelta a Asturias - Samuel Sánchez
  • Stage 4, Vuelta a Burgos - Ibán Mayo
  • Overall, Vuelta a Burgos - Ibán Mayo
  • Subida Urkiola - Ibán Mayo
  • Stage 13, Vuelta a España - Samuel Sánchez
  • Stage 16, Vuelta a España - Igor Antón
  • Züri Metzgete - Samuel Sánchez
  • (Time trial and overall, Escalada a Montjuïc - Igor Antón)
2007: 8
  • Stage 5 (Trofeo Calvia), Challenge Mallorca - Unai Etxebarria
  • Stage 7, Tirreno-Adriatico - Koldo Fernández
  • Stage 6 (ITT), Vuelta al País Vasco - Samuel Sánchez
  • Stage 4, Tour de Romandie - Igor Antón
  • Stage 7, Volta a Catalunya - Samuel Sánchez
  • Stage 15, Vuelta a España - Samuel Sánchez
  • Stage 19, Vuelta a España - Samuel Sánchez
  • Stage 20, Vuelta a España - Samuel Sánchez
2008: 8
  • Stage 5, Vuelta a Murcia - Koldo Fernández
  • Stage 5, Vuelta a Castilla y León - Koldo Fernández
  • Stage 2a (ITT), Vuelta a Asturias - Samuel Sánchez
  • Stage 2, Euskal Bizikleta - Koldo Fernández
  • Stage 2, Tour de Suisse - Igor Antón
  • Stage 3, Vuelta a Burgos - Koldo Fernández
  • Olympic Games road race - Samuel Sánchez
  • Tour de Vendée - Koldo Fernández
2009: 5
  • Stage 2, Volta ao Algarve - Koldo Fernández
  • GP Llodio - Samuel Sánchez
  • Circuito de Getxo - Koldo Fernández
  • Subida Urkiola - Igor Antón
  • Stage 1, Vuelta a Burgos - Koldo Fernández
2010: 17
  • Stage 4, Vuelta al País Vasco - Samuel Sánchez
  • Klasika Primavera - Samuel Sánchez
  • Stage 3, Vuelta a Castilla y León - Igor Antón
  • Stage 1, Vuelta a Asturias - Pablo Urtasun
  • Stage 3b (ITT), Vuelta a Asturias - Beñat Intxausti
  • Stage 5, Tour de Romandie - Igor Antón
  • Stage 1, Bayern-Rundfahrt - Rubén Pérez
  • Stage 5, Tour de Luxembourg - Gorka Izagirre
  • Prueba Villafranca de Ordizia - Gorka Izagirre
  • Stage 1, Vuelta a Burgos - Koldo Fernández
  • Stage 2, Vuelta a Burgos - Samuel Sánchez
  • Stage 5, Vuelta a Burgos - Samuel Sánchez
  • Overall, Vuelta a Burgos - Samuel Sánchez
  • Stage 4, Vuelta a España - Igor Antón
  • Stage 11, Vuelta a España - Igor Antón
  • Stage 16, Vuelta a España - Mikel Nieve
  • Tour de Vendée - Koldo Fernández
2011: 10
  • GP Miguel Indurain - Samuel Sánchez
  • Stage 4, Vuelta al País Vasco - Samuel Sánchez
  • Prologue, Tour de Romandie - Jonathan Castroviejo
  • Stage 1 (ITT), Vuelta a la Comunidad de Madrid - Jonathan Castroviejo
  • Stage 14, Giro d'Italia - Igor Antón
  • Stage 15, Giro d'Italia - Mikel Nieve
  • Stage 12, Tour de France - Samuel Sánchez
  • Stage 1, Vuelta a Burgos - Samuel Sánchez
  • Stage 5, Vuelta a Burgos - Mikel Landa
  • Stage 18, Vuelta a España - Igor Antón
2012: 8
  • Stage 6, Volta a Catalunya - Samuel Sánchez
  • Stage 3, Vuelta al País Vasco - Samuel Sánchez
  • Stage 6, Vuelta al País Vasco - Samuel Sánchez
  • Overall, Vuelta al País Vasco - Samuel Sánchez
  • Stage 2b (ITT), Vuelta a Asturias - Ion Izagirre
  • Stage 16, Giro d'Italia - Ion Izagirre
  • Clásica Ordizia - Gorka Izagirre
  • Stage 7, Tour of Britain - Pablo Urtasun
2013: 6
  • Stage 1, Vuelta a Castilla y León - Pablo Urtasun
  • Stage 2, Vuelta a Castilla y León - Juan José Lobato
  • Stage 7, Critérium du Dauphiné - Samuel Sánchez
  • Greek National Time Trial Championships - Ioannis Tamouridis
  • Greek National Road Race Championships - Ioannis Tamouridis
  • Circuito de Getxo - Juan José Lobato

Total: 166 (173)

Sunday, November 06, 2011

"Euskaltel can run the team without the Fundación"













Euskaltel Euskadi has been the property of the Fundación Euskadi ever since the team was created back in 1994. That may be about to change according to Miguel Madariaga. Talking to DEIA yesterday, the Fundación president said the team's main sponsor may run the team on its own after next season.

"If I decide to leave... well then I'll leave. But there are other people here able to do the work I've been doing. I'm not Basque cycling all on my own. I've done a lot of work for the team and that work will not go away, but someone else will have to take over eventually. Maybe another organization will come onboard and run the team in another way. I have high hopes for Euskaltel (the sponsor). They have the necessary means and resources to run this team and won't have to rely on the Fundación", Madariaga explained.

"Currently the team is the foundation's. Euskaltel provide 38% of the budget with the rest coming, mainly, from Orbea and local institutions. The team won't disappear, but a new organization will have to built outside of the foundation. That's the inevitable future of the team, and Euskaltel are prepared to take the reins."

Does he think the uncertainty around the team's existence can have a negative impact on the riders' performances next year? No chance.

"No way. If anything, it should serve to motivate them even more. They have to perform if the team is to stay at the top".

Saturday, November 05, 2011

McQuaid hints at WorldTour-licence














According to UCI president Pat McQuaid, Euskaltel will get a WorldTour-licence for 2012. So says Miguel Madariaga. Talking to Bilbao-based newspaper El Correo, the Fundación Euskadi supremo revealed he's confident his team will get one of the three available licences.

"I talked with McQuaid during the recent Tour of Beijing", Madariaga said. "He told me our WorldTour-licence is secure. I'm very optimistic".

The decision will be taken by the UCI's licence commission in a couple of weeks. But even if Euskaltel manage to stay in the 'Champions League' of cycling, he's worried about the future.

"I can't say the future is looking very bright for us", he admitted. "It's not very likely we'll be in the WorldTour in 2013. We're looking for sponsors pretty much everywhere, but so far we haven't been successful. We would be open to foreign sponsors. In America for example, we have contacts through Orbea. But we'll see what happens".

Madariaga, who's been working tirelessly to find sponsors for the better part of two decades now, went on to say that the public funding will reduced by 20 percent next year, in effect reducing the team's budget from seven to six million euro. For once though, the prospect of a substantially smaller budget didn't dent his mood.

"I'm sure we'll find the money needed to balance the books", he concluded.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Briefs: Euskaltel/Isasi/ONCE

  • Euskaltel stood atop the podium ten times this season, considerably less than the 17 times they amassed in 2010. Still though, it's better than most other campaigns in the team's long history: since the team's creation in 1994, only seven times (including this year) has the team chalked up ten wins or more in one calendar year. The win tally is also slightly higher than the average per year: over 18 seasons, Euskaltel have won 159 races. That's 8,8 a year. These numbers seem to indicate it's been a good year - especially considering four of the ten have been in Grand Tours and two in WorldTour-races.
  • The newly-retired Iñaki Isasi will, as you all know by now, step into the role of directeur sportif next year. He's most likely to lead the team in domestic races though: Noticias de Gipuzkoa reports he hasn't yet acquired the needed licence to direct a WorldTour team outside of Spain. Which in turn means Gorka Gerrikagoitia and Álvaro González de Galdeano are likely to call the shots from the team car in most races overseas.
  • ONCE, one of the great teams of the nineties and the early years of the new millennium, will have a reunion of sorts on the most fitting of dates: on the 11th day in the 11th month in 2011. Several Basque greats of yesteryear used to call the team directed by Manolo Saiz home: Abraham Olano, Pello Ruíz Cabestany, Mikel Zarrabeitia, Isidro Nozal, Marino Lejarreta, Joseba Beloki, David Etxebarria and Igor González de Galdeano to name but a few. Together with approximately 80 other riders and staff from the team that eventually turned into the now-disgraced Liberty Serguros-outfit, they'll get together in Madrid in a week's time to catch up and reminisce about those all-conquering seasons which totalled 437 victories.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Looking for a million








If Euskaltel are to continue beyond 2012, they are likely to need another million euro. That's the opinion of Fundación Euskadi president Miguel Madariaga. Talking to El Diario Vasco yesterday, the team chief outlined the budgetary issues facing the team.

"For three years now we've been looking for more money. Frankly, we need a million euro and we can't seem to find that kind of money anywhere. If Euskaltel (the sponsor) are aware of these issues? Of course they are", he explained.

The future's not only dependent on money though; a WorldTour-licence is vital according to Madariaga.

"Facing the future, it's important we continue to be a part of the WorldTour. If you drop out of the WorldTour it's tough to get back in. But, from what I've heard, it won't impact our racing calendar that much if we're in it or not though: we would likely be offered rides in the Tour, in the Vuelta and in the races that interest us anyway. But, still, the future would be more complicated if we're left out."

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Briefs

  • As expected, Spain were allocated the maximum number of places for the Olympics next year. The London Olympics will thus see five Spaniards line up in road race and two in the time trial. Samu is of course the defending champion and more than likely to be given one of the spots, so he'll be delighted to have four riders supporting him (and/or Freire) come July 2012.
  • Despite placing fifth in Karrantza and fourth in Muskiz over the weekend, Orbea cyclo-cross rider Aitor Hernández was everything but enthused when talking to BiciCiclismo yesterday. "Perhaps I was too pumped up and too keen to show myself on the front", the erstwhile Euskaltel stalwart lamented. "Being aggressive throughout cost me dearly late on as I started to drift backwards."
  • The Naturgas Energía bosses were "very pleased" with this weekend's two-day camp in Derio. The red squad gathered for the first time this year to plan the riders' pre-season and integrate the new members on the team. The camp ended with a hike from Getxo to Barrika, reports Euskaltel's website.

 

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