Sunday, February 12, 2012

Orbea debutants content with Mallorca experience

Orbea newbies Omar Fraile, Illart Zuazubiskar, Igor Merino and Carlos Barbero pinned on their very first bib numbers for their new team at the recently-concluded Mallorca Challenge earlier this week. While the quartet, along with the rest of the team, found it hard to mix it up with their WorldTour counterparts in terms of results over the three days, they were nonetheless reasonably pleased with their first outing in the traditional blue jersey.

"I'm pleased and already looking forward to the next race", Barbero, who came over from affiliate team Naturgas in the off-season, told El Pedal de Frodo. "The race was fine, but it's a shame the last day got called off. The season isn't exactly filled with races for Continental teams like us, so it's a shame. But otherwise I'm pleased. I'm happy with this year's edition and having been able to take part, as well as seeing my idols up close and experience the speed they're racing at. What surprised me the most was the tension in the bunch when it came to finding your position in the peloton".

Igor Merino echoed Barbero's sentimens, saying "it was a good start to the year", but lamented the bad weather.

"It was a tough race because of the weather. We'd been hoping for better, but at least I felt good on the bike. Obviously it's faster than in the sub-23 category, (...) but I think everything went well and I'm motivated to race at this level. Contador was there, Valverde was there, the Schleck brothers were there... it was quite special to ride alongside the guys I've been watching on TV all these years."

Former Seguros Bilbao prodigy Illart Zuazubiskar took a tumble on day two in the Trofeo Migjorn, but still deemed himself happy with his overall performance.

"I started off the season quite sore because of my fall, but still it went better than I had expected. I'm happy with how my body responded to the racing."

Fraile, who'll make the step up to Euskaltel and the WorldTour next year, expressed his contentment like the rest of his team-mates - but was left to rue a costly mistake in the Trofeo Deiá.

"Everything turned out well and I'm honestly very happy. I though it would be really tough, and it was tough, but I still felt pretty good and we were able to stay with the gruppetto every day. But in the Trofeo Deiá, the race which suited me the best, I failed to eat enough. I was going pretty well and was close to the front on the climbs to begin with, but in the first 50 kilometres I didn't eat sufficiently. Eventually I was forced to pay for that and ended up in the gruppetto on the ramps of the Soller".

Next up for Orbea is the Clásica de Almería (1.HC) in two weeks' time.

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