The Izagirre brothers ensured Euskaltel's performance on the second stage of the Tour Down Under was by all means a positive one, but there were less positive outcomes for a veteran duo of the team. Juan José Oroz and Mikel Astarloza were both taken out by a big pile-up six clicks from the line, and lost valuable time on GC.
Oroz eventually came in 33rd, no more than 1:09 in arrears, while Astarloza ceded considerably more. The winner of the 2003 edition of the race came in 5:26 back in 88th place, and, worse, needed to stitch up his elbow afterwards. Five were needed to fix up his wound, while Oroz was luckier and didn't need treatment, the team's website reports.
For Astarloza it would no doubt have come as a hard hit, having told El Diario Vasco the day before that he was coming off a winter of intense training.
"I've been training more than ever", he said, revealing he took three weeks off the bike after last season before resuming training in early November. "I have a packed calendar. In February I'll run "everything" in order to reach Paris-Nice, Volta a Catalunya and the Vuelta al País Vasco in top shape. It takes time for me to get into shape, so I need to get in a lot of kilometres. To start the season with a lot of races might therefore be good for me".
Astarloza's 2013 race schedule was revealed on Christmas Eve - check it out here.
The veteran former Ag2r rider hasn't won a race since 2009 or 2003 - depending on how you look at it - and the Pasajes-native is eager to expand his palmarès in the season that's just started.
"My objective is to win a race again, I want to win something again", he said. "I'd love to rediscover the form of 2009. I didn't manage to do that last year. My fall in the Tour, and the elbow injury that came with it, stopped me in my tracks and prevented me from going to the Vuelta a España in good shape.
"(All in all though), 2012 was a good year, but I missed the win and the consistency. The Tour crash left me feeling bitter. The Tour can save your year, but the opposite can also be the case. I'm left wondering what could have been", he concluded.