Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Euskaltel turn to stars for home race

The Vuelta al País Vasco will as usual and for obvious reasons form the crux of the first half of Euskaltel's season. In keeping with the race's elevated status at Igor González de Galdeano's team, defending champion Samuel Sánchez will - again as per tradition - be there to lead the orange team to success in their local race. For once, though, he's not necessarily going there to win the race.

"I won't be as strong this year as I've been in years past", he told Deia. "Though I'm feeling good, the goal this year is the Giro d'Italia - the Vuelta al País Vasco is a stop on the way.

"If I'm thinking about winning a stage? Or about the overall podium? We'll see where the road leads us".

Galdeano is leaving nothing to chance when it comes to that particular race, deciding to pick the strongest team he can assemble. Alongside Samuel Sánchez on the start line in less than two weeks' time will be Ion and Gorka Izagirre, Igor Antón, Egoi Martínez and Rubén Pérez, el Diario Vasco reports, leaving only two places up for grabs.

The team boss revealed four riders - Mikel Astarloza, Gorka Verdugo, Romain Sicard and Juan José Lobato - are vying for the final two spots on the team, but adds it'll still be a few days before he makes the tough choice as to who to leave out.

"We already have the spine of the team for the race set", the former wearer of the Maillot Jaune said. "Unless we encounter any problems, there's only two places left. We'll see how the riders concluded the Volta a Catalunya and decide after that".

As mentioned above, and as has been known for some months already, 'Samu' won't be at peak form come April Fool's Day. Still, Galdeano has no hesitancy in naming his team captain.

"Sánchez will be the leader", he insisted. "He's prepared, as he always is, and he knows you can't come to a race like País Vasco to hang around - you have to be in shape and in form for it.

"He might not be in his very best shape, but he's a rider who's competitive at 80 percent. He's got what it takes to stay with the best".

Photo: Vavel

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