Saturday, March 16, 2013

Euskaltel rue missed Classic chances

Euskaltel's start to Classics season in the north of Europe hasn't gone entirely to plan. Foul weather has seen to it that an unusually high number of races have been cancelled, and while Friday's Handzame Classic went ahead as planned, the team missed out on both the Dwaars door Drenthe on Sunday and the Nokere-Koerse on Tuesday.

For a team aiming to get used to the rigours of racing over cobbled roads in sub-zero temperatures in strong winds and foul weather, missing out on those races was hardly ideal, sports director Óscar Guerreo admits.

"The police didn't want to take any risks", he explained to El Diario Vasco. "The snow moves with the wind and creates layers of ten to 15 centimetres some places - meaning there's always a dangerous stretch of road.

"It's been quite cold as well. When we got to the hotel we were staying at, the temperature was one degree above freezing. At night it's been minus ten at times, meaning the roads get icy. It's been quite cold, but that's not really been the problem. They are high-quality races that some of our riders would have needed to get into racing rhythm. For Peio Bilbao, racing four races rather than two would have been good for him as he started the season late. For Pablo Urtasun and Juan José Lobato, Nokere-Koerse on Tuesday, with its slightly hilly finale, would have been perfect. But you can't do anything about the weather".

Guerrero explains the riders have been mixing riding on the tarmac with indoor sessions on the rollers to make up for the lost racing kilometres, but, as he says himself, "it's hardly the same as racing".

For Moroccan recruit Tarik Chaoufi, riding in the snow and cold in the north of Europe must be quite a challenge. However, his DS is rather impressed with how the national champion is adapting to his new surroundings.

"He's improving and fast", Guerrero enthuses. "He's doing well in competition, and he's also making strides with the language. He's going through some big changes, but he'll turn out to be a very profitable rider for us".

Photo: Euskaltel Euskadi

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