Friday, March 30, 2012

Naturgas set for weekend of racing

Naturgas Energía will face a tricky double-header this weekend with a Copa de España-race on Saturday and a Torneo Lehendakari-race the day after.

On Saturday, the team will field a strong seven-man squad in the Memorial Balenciaga in Eibar - one of the most esteemed races on the national amateur calendar. Current Euskaltel riders Victor Cabedo and Mikel Nieve have both triumphed at the event (in 2010 and 2007 respectively), while greats like Óscar Freire, Unai Osa, Joaquim Rodríguez and Julián Gorospe have also come out tops in the past. In-form riders Víctor Etxeberria, Loic Chetout and Jon Larrinaga will all be present, while Karl Baudron, Pablo Comins, Mikel Iturria and Damien García round out the team.

"The Memorial Balenciaga is a very important race in the whole of Spain, both for its parcours and for its history", DS Iñigo Urretxua told the team's website. "The winner of the race often turns professional, so we'll try to do well right from the start. It's not unthinkable we'll be in contention towards the end".

On Sunday, it's back to the Torneo Lehendakari and Amorebieta. A quintet will represent the red squad in Beñat Intxausti's home town: Imanol Estévez, Alain González, Javier Martín, Oier Sánchez and Alain Santamaría. Jon Lazkano is set to direct the team from the car.

(Not quite sure who this Lazkano is - never seen him mentioned as a Naturgas DS before. But I seem to recall a Debabarrena rider a few years back with the same name, so perhaps that's him)

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