Sunday, January 06, 2013

Galdeano - He wasn't at his normal level

Mikel Astarloza will for obvious reasons always divide opinion among Euskaltel fans. Equally obvious is the fact that the 33-year-old was a valuable and integral part of the team prior to his suspension, but he's failed spectacularly to hit those pre-ban heights after he returned to competition towards the back end of the 2011 season.

2012 was in many respects a year to forget for the former Ag2r rider; his top placing was 16th overall at the Vuelta a Andalucía, he crashed out of the Tour de France, and his skills against the clock and in shorter stage races seemed to have abandoned him. Still, though, he's been handed a dream 2013 racing calendar, a schedule taking in a number of the biggest races, including, as ever, the three-week stage race that takes place mid-summer on the roads of France. Team head Igor González de Galdeano clearly retains faith in the San Sebastián-native, and told El Diario Vasco he remains hopeful Astarloza can rediscover the form of old.

"He's a veteran rider with experience, a very important rider at this team", he said. "I hope he'll return to the level of form he had prior to the years he didn't race. 2012 was below this level. He's a team rider who we rate. I expect him to shine results-wise and, as far as it's possible, to return to the rider he was. In any case, his experience, regardless of his results, is very important for us".

Galdeano confirmed Astarloza is once again highly likely to be among the chosen nine for the Grand Boucle, and says it's not for nothing he's been handed a comparatively heavy racing schedule.

"He'll have a similar calendar to the one he had in 2012. He'll start Down Under, and will then go on to the Challenge Mallorca, Paris-Nice and Volta a Catalunya. As well he's among the riders who could be picked for the Vuelta al País Vasco. As far as Grand Tours go, he's likely to do the Tour.

"He needs a lot of races and kilometres to get into shape, and because of this we've handed him a packed calendar", he revealed. "As you get older it costs more to get into shape, but he's very much a valuable rider to us".

To relive Astarloza's perhaps finest moment of 2012, watch the short video below of stage 12 of the Vuelta a España:


Remo said...

Mikel could be a real value for next season. His experience, know-how and ability are important ingredients for the team.
Always loved him, i wish him all the best.

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