Monday, July 09, 2012

Why Samu's crash is such a disaster

While crashing out of the Tour as a podium contender is always a bitter pill to swallow, Samu's enforced abandonment may have wider implications for the team than a mere no-show in the biggest race of the year.

Going into the Tour, Euskaltel had a healthy amount of WorldTour points to their name (374 to be precise). However, if Euskaltel were to stand a realistic chance of staying in the WorldTour on sporting criteria alone, they were highly dependent on the points brought in by Samu's likely high overall placing. A top five, for sure within his reach, would have provided Euskaltel with a considerable chunk of points. With him gone, not to mention potential stage animators Txurruka, Astarloza and Verdugo,  Euskaltel risk leaving the Tour without a single point more than what they had at the start in Liège. Now I'm not saying the guys still in the race can't grab a few points, on their day most of them can, but even a stage win wouldn't get close to making up for a high overall placing points-wise.

An anonymous and low-key performance in the Tour is not the end of the world by any means. Obviously it's the biggest race in the world and the centrepiece of most teams' seasons, but there's not a lot you can do if luck's not on your side. The problem is that few points at the Tour can result in Euskaltel needing to buy non-Basques come the end of the season to stay WorldTour.

With Antón, and perhaps the Tour DNFs as well, set to line up in the Vuelta, there's every chance the team might grab quite a few points towards the rankings. But banking on Antón delivering is a risky business, and Euskaltel might well come up short when the UCI's license commission is set to decide on who to award licenses to later this year. If that indeed turns out to be case, incoming general manager Igor González de Galdeano has stated he might dip into the worldwide market to secure the team's stay at the top table of cycling.


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