Saturday, November 17, 2012

Zabalo and Etxebarria say goodbye to Orbea
















The make-up of Euskaltel's feeder team, Orbea, for next year is still up in the air as they struggle to find sponsors, but what's clear is that several are leaving the blue team. Andoni Blázquez, Aritz Extebarria and Xabier Zabalo (pictured above) are three of those. The former two have decided to dismount the bike for good, while the latter still hopes to find a team for the fast-approaching 2013 season.

24-year-old Etxebarria just completed his third year with the team, and does not sound too disheartened at having to step away from the sport and entering the regular job market.

"I've been given the opportunity, it's been good, and now I begin another stage of my life", he told Gara, revealing he's planning to finalize his studies before start looking for a job. "I was given the chance, and I saw a sport going global with fewer and fewer possibilities for those of us who are not stars. (Leaving the bike) is no failure, and the memories of competing in the Basque Country will stay with me."

Xabier Zabalo, meanwhile, who'll forever be remember for that crash in Italy last August, intends to pursue his career - although he readily admits it'll be difficult.

"I couldn't stay with Orbea because of my age", the 25-year-old said. "But there's no place for me on domestic teams, it's impossible. I've checked out some foreign ones, and the idea is to keep riding as I've got room for improvement. I've ruled out going back down to the amateur level, though, as it's been four years now since I last rode there. I've looked for Continental teams outside of Spain, but I haven't found anything yet. I hope to find something during this month.

"As for Orbea, I'm pleased overall. I've been given the opportunity to ride professionally and get to know this world with a young team, a team which I knew I wouldn't be able to stay with forever. I'll take with me the overall experience and the friendships I've made".

Photo: Iñaki Azanza

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