Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Azanza - I'm 99,9 percent sure I'll retire

Jorge Azanza has in all likelihood turned his last pedal as a professional cyclist.

The 31-year-old has been one of Samuel Sánchez's most trusted and loyal domestiques the last few years, but in a Spanish peloton high on riders but low on teams, the ending of Euskaltel will more than likely also result in the ending of Azanza's career.

He's yet to receive any offers for 2014 and admits his career is all but over.

"As things stand right now, I won't be a professional cyclist next year", he tells his local regional newspaper Diario de Navarra. "One can always hope for a miracle, but it's 99,9 percent certain I'll retire. In today's cycling, there's no room for me.

"I regret to leave this sport when I'm in the shape of my life and feeling well physically, not to mention when I've found my place, which is to work for team leader. I'm approaching the best years of my career, and now I've got to stop... If I was a big winner, I would have found a team. I'm not, but I help others become winners. My only chance was to accompany one of the team leaders to another team.

"It's hard, but this is not dramatic. If I have to stop riding, I'll start a new life", he says.

Azanza's future - and his team-mates at Euskaltel with it - appeared to be safe when Fernando Alonso announced he intended to keep the team alive under a new name and in a new guise in early September, but negotiations eventually broke down and is likely to leave a lot of the team's riders on the metaphorical street next year.

Azanza says the Alonso-deal falling through was "unlucky", but admits it left him feeling angry.

"It made me mad, as now, having never felt better, I'm forced to put away the bike for good. I was also feeling valued by Euskaltel and other teams. It hurts to have all heard all this stuff about a new team and then watch is disappear into thin air. It was a false illusion.

"We've lived with tremendous uncertainty for the last couple of months. Before the Vuelta they told us the team would fold, then on stage ten they congratulated us and said a new sponsor had been found. And less than ten days after the Vuelta ended they told us negotiations had fallen through. It's been an emotional roller coaster".

Assuming Azanza does indeed retire, he'll become the second Euskaltel rider to reach that decision. Only last week, Mikel Astarloza announced he's decided to quit the sport for good.

Photo. BCPT


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