Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Rumour mill round-up: Sky keen on Antón, Nieve to Astana

With Euskaltel's future now officially non-existent, the Euskalel rumour mill has as expected nearly gone into overdrive.

While still not one single rider has committed himself to another team, plenty appear to be on the verge of doing so.

As previously reported, only technicalities remain before Gorka Izagirre is a Movistar rider. According to Basque daily Deia, he's actually penned a deal already with Spain's soon-to-be only remaining top-level team.

Few would be surprised to see his brother Ion follow him, but as of yet it appears he's still juggling his options. BMC and Garmin are said to be more than keen on taking him on.

Mikel Landa has long been linked with Astana, and it now seems fellow ace climber Mikel Nieve might join him in making the move to the controversial Kazakh outfit.

According to said newspaper, Astana head Giuseppe Martinelli is hoping to make Nieve Vincenzo Nibali's top domestique. Deia claims it's "very likely" he'll take up that offer.

Fellow featherweight escalador Igor Antón, who yesterday talked of how he'd always wanted to finish his career with Euskaltel, is allegedly wanted by powerhouses Team Sky, BMC, Garmin and Omega Pharma-QuickStep. Earlier this month he was also linked to Lampre-Merida, meaning Antón will have no trouble finding a new employer.

One who's having a tougher time of it is the once-prodigious Romain Sicard. The Frenchman was last week said to be wanted by several of the top teams in his home country, but Alain Laiseka claims he's not had any response from the teams he's been in touch with.

Finally, the team's big star and icon, Samuel Sánchez, is not keen to talk of 2014 and beyond just yet. 'Samu' has two more years running on his contract with Euskaltel, and Deia says the team leader won't comment on his future before everything's sorted out with the team.

Photo: Iñaki Azanza


Stephen said...

It would be interesting to see Anton at Sky. He does seem to be a case of unfulfilled potential and their methods do seem to get the best out of their riders (and let’s not get into the doping nonsense)Maybe being a 'star'with Euskaltel did him no favours in terms of letting him do his own thing with training. I could see them adding him to their classics 'team' and making him have a very hard, structured winter as they did with that group last year. They didn't have a lot of success but I doubt that they will give up on the idea just yet. Regardless who he rides for, I'd love to see a totally fit and motivated Anton take a big win - he'll always be an Euskaltel rider to me.

Anonymous said...

I am a positive thinker and an eternal optimist, but the only good things that I can see coming out of this is (1) a change of scenery and possibly a new role in new surroundings can give a boost or a welcome jolt to some riders' careers (and if not it is at least interesting to see how they will fare in a new team), (2) the people, the public institutions and the potential sponsors in Basque country (and why not in entire Spain) will appreciate that what they had was very special and that if the day ever comes when there will be a new "Euskaltel", they will know the true value of keeping it alive, and (3) there will always be an "orange wave" even if it will be red, white and green instead - and orange was never really my favorite colur.


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