Thursday, August 01, 2013

Ibai Salas gets his shot at the big time

Young Basque Ibai Salas will get his long-awaited chance to race among the pros for the remainder of the current season.

The 22-year-old is one of three youngsters from Caja Rural's amateur squad that will get the chance to impress as 'stagiares' with the pro version of the iconic green team this fall. Along with Diego Rubio and Rubén Martínez, the native of Zamudio, just north of Bilbao, has been picked to make a preliminary step up.

For Salas, one the most dominant young Spaniards on the sub-23 circuit the last few years, it's been a long time coming.

"I'm very motivated and grateful towards Caja Rural for this great opportunity", Salas tells Basque Cycling News. "It's a great chance for me to put my name out there and get to know the world of professional cycling.

"I still don't know what races I'll be doing, but surely I'll be at the French semi-classics - my sports director Josemi Fernández told me that".

Salas was selected to represent Spain at last year's 'Tour de France for youngsters' - the Tour de l'Avenir. A team for this year's event is yet to be picked, but the punchy Caja Rural rider would happily give it another go at the French race.

"I'd love to once again get the call from (Spanish national team selector) Pascual Momparler and race there for a second time", he says. "It's a very big race and a special one at that, but it's also very demanding".

For Salas and his two young team-mates, a big few months is coming up. With the likely disappearance of Equipo Euskadi and Euskaltel come the end of the year, chances to turn pro for young Basque hopefuls is likely to be smaller than ever in 2014 and beyond.

"I hope both teams stay afloat for the good of the sport and for the good of the Basque youth scene. Both of them hand opportunities to youngsters from the region. It's simple: let's hope they both find a solution and don't disappear", he concludes.

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