Thursday, September 27, 2012

Larrinaga joins Orbea; joined by Mikel Aristi

Naturgas Energía rider Jon Larrinaga has been rewarded for his strong season in the sub-23 ranks by being given a contract with Orbea for next year.

So reports BiciCiclismo, who were present as Miguel Madariaga revealed the future of the Fundación Euskadi early on Thursday. The foundation will continue to run the Continental-ranked Orbea team, as well as the highly-successful sub-23 team Naturgas Energía, while Euskaltel, as has been extensively reported in the past, will not be run under the Fundación Euskadi banner from 2013 and onwards.

Madariaga revealed that the Orbea team is as of today made up of eight riders. Six of those, namely Carlos Barbero, Haritz Orbe, Aritz Bagües, Igor Merino, Illart Zuazubiskar and Mikel Bizkarra, have contracts in place for the coming season, while the other two join from other teams. Larrinaga is, as has been widely expected, one of them, and will be joined by current Debabarrena rider Mikel Aristi.

19-year-old Aristi, hailing from Bergara, Gipuzkoa, has made quite a name for himself in his very first season in the amateur ranks, putting his name out there as one of the most promising riders in Spain. Aristi won't turn 20 until May next year, meaning he'll start riding professionally at the tender age of 19 - proof enough of what is expected of him in a few year's time.

Where this leaves the remaining current Orbea riders, those being Omar Fraile (who's future is still up in the air), Xabier Zabalo, Andoni Blázquez and Aritz Etxebarria, is unknown at the time being, but it's sure to be sorted within the next few weeks.

As for Naturgas, "pretty much everyone" from this year's roster will stay on next year, while four riders from other teams are set to join.

Concerning the worrying lack of major sponsors, Madariaga invited interested companies to get in touch, and also hoped the current sponsors would stay on beyond this year.

Photo: Pascal Baudron

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