Tuesday, November 06, 2012

"Hopefully we won't need foreigners in the future"

Veteran directeur sportif Gorka Gerrikagoitia has, perhaps unintentionally, given a damning verdict of Euskaltel's change of philosophy. Speaking to sports daily Marca, the former rider expressed the hope they won't be "forced" to sign non-Basques in the years to come.

"The team was forced to sign foreigners to stay at the top level, and we succeeded", he said. "I don't see a different team. There'll be people who are both for and against (signing non-Basques), but it was something we had to do. Hopefully we won't need to sign foreigners in the future as they give us, through their hard work, a spot in the WorldTour."

Whether Kocjan, Schulze, Vrecer et al. will be motivated by these sorts of comments remain to be seen, but it does support the theory that Euskaltel will aim to return to it's Basque-only philosophy some time in the future. Speaking of this year's team, though, 'Gerri' was only half-pleased with the team's performance throughout the year - but reserved praise for one rider in particular.

"It's difficult to evaluate the year as we did some good things and some bad things. Overall, though, the performances have been good. Samuel's Vuelta al País Vasco triumph will stay with me - that was a highlight and something we've longed for for many years. In the WorldTour we did a good season: we were second in Catalunya, won País Vasco, tenth in the Giro, ninth in the Vuelta... but, in the end, what counts is the Tour, and things didn't go to plan there. We had bad luck, but I believe we performed well despite not getting the results. Whether you say we did well or badly depends on your viewpoint. I'll give the team a six out of ten.

"The greatest joy of the year was Jon Izagirre with a stage victory in his first Grand Tour and the great performance he pulled off. The regret is that we weren't able to accumulate all the points we wanted to. At the start of the year I speak with riders who can get many, and we end up not obtaining them. I haven't been able to get the most out of each and every one of my riders".

As for one of the main deceptions of the year, Igor Antón, Gerrikagoitia believes he's still got "much ahead of him, despite his bad luck". While he admitted Antón "was one of those who got less points than we had wanted to", he was "sure" Antón would "return to his top shape in the coming seasons".

Photo: www.orbea.com


Anonymous said...

Doesn't the quote in the title sound a little xenophobic? I would like to think my favorite pro cycling team is not reducing these new signing to mere tools and ignoring the fact that they are humans.

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