In taking the climber's jersey on the very first day of his very first Tour de France, Juan José Lobato made the best Grand Boucle debut in the team's history on Saturday.
Executing a carefully laid team plan to perfection, the 24-year-old got into the day's main break straight away and picked up the only mountain points on offer. In cresting the Côte de Sotta ahead of his four breakaway companions, the Andalusian got to don the famous (or is that infamous) polkadots at the end of the 212km opener from Porto Vecchio to Bastia.
"This is a very nice start", he told the team's website matter-of-factly. "To get to climb the podium on my Tour debut makes me happy. We're at the best race in the world and I'm in the climber's jersey.
"We started out very motivated and got our reward. It was hard to achieve, but we did it. We can only be pleased with that".
As with most cyclists, a moment of triumph is a moment to remember the ones that've stuck by your side throughout the years.
"I want to thank my family, my girlfriend and Rufino Murguia," he said, paying tribute to the late Euskaltel masseur. "My family and girlfriend have always helped me, in good times and in bad. Rufino not being here has left a big void - he was very passionate about cycling and about this team.
"He always had words of encouragement, and today we heard him", he concluded.
To cap off what can only be considered a superb start to the race, none of the Euskaltel riders hit the ground in the late-race carnage that will make sure the first stage of the 2013 edition will be remembered for years to come.
- (1, Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano), 4:56:52)
- 18, Rubén Pérez, s.t.
- 56, Romain Sicard, s.t.
- 59, Mikel Astarloza, s.t.
- 65, Gorka Izagirre, s.t.
- 72, Juan José Oroz, s.t.
- 73, Igor Antón, s.t.
- 81, Ion Izagirre, s.t.
- 89, Mikel Nieve, s.t.
- 135, Juan José Lobato, s.t.
Photo: Le Tour