Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Euskaltel ready to defend Sánchez's crown

Defending Samuel Sánchez's victory in the Vuelta al País Vasco will be no easy task, but Euskaltel have picked the strongest possible team in order to be in with a shot when the race commences on Monday, April 1st.

Sánchez will line up on the start line in Elgoibar, Gipuzkoa, with the 'number one'-bib on his back, having taken a much-sought after victory at Euskaltel's local WorldTour race in 2012.

To defend the team captain's interests, and in order to have several riders in general classification contention throughout the six-day event, team manager Igor González de Galdeano has picked what can only be described as the a-team.

Igor Antón, fresh off 15th overall at the recently-concluded Volta a Catalunya, will be present, as will the ever-reliable super domestique that is Egoi Martínez. The Izagirre brothers, Gorka and Ion, will both be on hand to assist their leader and perhaps hunt glory themselves on select stages, while Rubén Pérez will again take the start after giving the race a miss the last two years.

Completing the team will be young climbing duo Mikel Landa and Romain Sicard - both of them making their bow at the race.

"We've tried to put together a team that mixes the future of the team, that being the Izagirre brothers, Landa and Sicard, with experienced riders like Martínez, Sánchez and even Antón", de Galdeano told Radio Euskadi on Tuesday. "Through these riders we have to show that Euskaltel have a present value as well as a future one, and this race is a step on that road".

Samuel Sánchez will, as per tradition, spearhead the team's charge. But with the 34-year-old's eyes firmly trained on the Giro d'Italia in May, de Galdeano is keen to play down expectations of a repeat performance from the 2012 victor.

"Sánchez will not be at the top of his game, we know that", he said. "But one can't just show up at this race to hang around. It's a very hard race. You have to be in good shape to ride this event, and Sánchez will certainly be up for it. We won't discard anything, but it's clear he's still fine-tuning his form for the Giro.

"He's a bit of an unknown quantity, but he is in good shape. A Samuel Sánchez at 80 percent might surprise us", he concluded.

Photo: Euskaltel Euskadi


Anonymous said...

Wishing the boys - young and old - much success. 1 - 2 - 3 would be great for the team and their fans around the world. Good luck!

azanca02 said...

Looking at the start list there is only a few guys who I think can win the overall. Samu, Porte, Van Dan Broeck, Contador, and Hesjadal. There maybe a few other guys to fight for the top ten but I think Euskaltel can get a good chunk of points here.

azanca02 said...

Forgot Valverde and TJ Van Garderen. But I still think they can get some good points.


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