Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Giro d'Italia team unveiled

Euskaltel yesterday revealed their nine-man team for the Giro d'Italia, commencing this Saturday. Mikel Nieve will lead a team consisting of three Grand Tour debutants.

The featherweight climber will be accompanied by Amets Txurruka, Iván Velasco, Pierre Cazaux, Adrián Sáez, Victor Cabedo, Miguel Minguez, Juan José Oroz and Jon Izagirre. No big surprises there, then. Álvaro González de Galdeano will take the reins in the team car.

Nieve has centred his season around the year's first GT, and will be the team's designated rider for a high overall placing and, whisper it quietly, a hot candidate to repeat last year's stage win. The Leitza-native, who'll turn 28 on the race's penultimate day, soloed to win arguably the hardest stage of last year's edition at Gardeccia - which speaks volumes considering last year's excessively hard parcours. Nieve hasn't enjoyed the best of starts to a season this year, though, having accumulated no more than a meagre 11 days of racing in 2012. He abandoned both the Volta a Catalunya and the Vuelta a Castilla y León earlier this year, while his last outing was a discreet 69th-place finish in the Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Alas, his form is very much an unknown heading into the race.

Txurruka, having experienced so much ill-fortune in the Tour de France the last few years, will forego le Grand Boucle this year in favour of the Giro. The wiry climber is coming off his best stage-race result in his career (sixth in Asturias), and should find the course to his liking. Escaladores Velasco and Minguez, the latter showing plenty of promise in the 2011 edition, will add firing power in the Italian hills, while Oroz and Cazaux always can be counted upon on the flats as well as in the mountains.

Izagirre, easily the team's stand-out performer this year behind Samuel Sánchez, is likely to make quite an impression if his latest results is anything to go by. The youngster, who so convincingly won the ITT in Asturias only a few days ago, has always feared well on Italian roads and might well be the revelation of the race is he succeeds in recovering completely from his final-day crash in Asturias. While a top overall results may be beyond him at such a tender age, he'll be one to watch on the medium-mountain days and in breaks on long, hot days.

Like Izagirre, Cabedo and Sáez will make their GT bows. Cabedo's first few months in the orange jersey might not have been what everyone had expected results-wise, but his talent may well blossom if he gets through the first few days in one piece. Sáez has been solid an aggressive thus far, and will look to continue in the same vein once the race gets underway on Saturday.

According to the team's website, the Euskaltel entourage will head for Danmark and Herning tomorrow morning.

Photo: www.fundacioneuskadi.com


Kristof said...

That's a nice team Magnus, with Nieve, Izagirre, Txurruka and Velasco a very promising team and much attractive then the TDF slection. The new orbea guys aren't surely the same level of the generation Landa/Izagirre, but maybe Cabedo can show something. let's also see what Minguez can do, he did not bad last year considering his first big race. I expect one man in the top 10 and let's hope a stage victory. I would not be suprised if Ion will be the highest man in the GC ranking.

Magnus said...

Agreed, love that so many climbers are included. I'd say Cabedo is on Izagirre/Landa's level, while Bilbao is most definitely at their level or perhaps above that, but other than those two it's slim pickings. Minguez should thrive, but as always it's difficult to know where he's at as he's so inconsistent. He'll lose a lot of time early on, so hopefully he'll have the freedom to chase wins in the mountains.

Kristof said...

I find this a strange remark Magnus, about Landa en Izagirre. I think these guys are really top talents that in some years will be very high in GC's. Izagirre for his age is very complete and Landa is an exceptionnal climber. I personally do not think Bilbao and Cabedo is at their level, allthough Bilbao is also a very good one. I would also say Landa and Izagirre (Ion) have more talent then Intxausti and Castro. Intxausti might also be a good GC rider (very complete) but Castro is not strong enough as a climber.
About the Giro parcours : Not as attractive as it was last year.

Stephen said...

I think that there is a lot of talent in the team....and that is what worries me, that they might not have a team to ride for next year. Without some points to take with them, its going to be hard for young climbers to get into other teams. This team is special in that it is happy to take stage wins in the mountains while knowing it won't be a force on the flat, its aims a different as its sponsors are different. Lets hope they find a way to continue.

Magnus said...

Kristof: Well, I agree with you that Landa and Izagirre are top talents, but Cabedo made quite an impression while with Orbea, probably bigger than Landa and Izagirre ever did. He's held in very high esteem by Spaniards. He's also struggled a lot with allergies this year, which goes some way to explain his poor results, but I hope he'll come good.

I see Bilbao developing into a great GC rider. TT pedigree, excellent climber, rapid finisher, good motor. He's got everything, and is also a year younger than Landa and Izagirre. But yes, Landa is exceptional. I think we can both agree with Stephen in that it's a lot of talent in the squad right now.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the Giro team, I'm not looking forward to the TTT:).

Kristof said...

For sure we can agree there's a lot of talent in the squad now! Last sentence of Stephen sounds a bit sad to me, suggesting the team will fall apart. I still hope Euskaltel stay existing (without Euskadi) and the non Basque riders will be only 2 or 3, so the young guys can stay and develop in the new Eus team. I do not want to see a Castro/Intxausti scenario. If Madriaga says he'll have to sell riders and he even give names (Sicard), that worries me. However, no news = good news?

Stephen said...

Kristof, I suppose what I mean is that if you are a hot young sprinter you have more chance of finding a new team than someone that is making a reputation as a climber. Euskaltel are the opposite of most teams in that they don't have a spinter at all! It would be a great pity if that diversity was lost - and I really hope that something will be sorted out for 2013 and beyond.


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