Friday, August 29, 2008

Staying or going?

No, I'm not talking about Samu. I'm talking about myself in fact. I guess it would be more interesting for all of you to read about Samu, or any other rider for that matter, than me, but here I go. This is where it's at: I'm wondering what to do with the blog, whether I should just shut the whole thing down, or whether I should just go back to the original format; writing about Iban. As Iban is, most likely, out of the sport for good, this whole Iban Mayo Blog thing has kind of lost it's meaning. To me at least. And it's been like that for a while I'm afraid. Bringing you news on Iban, my one big hero, was the goal. Now that he's probably gone, out of the limelight at least, I'm not sure I want to continue the blog like this. And I need everyone's opinion on this matter. Though, I should say this just to save you the trouble in suggesting it, I'm not going to rename the blog into some sort of Euskaltel/Basque blog, or to just solely focus on the team. Iban has got to have something to do with it. I'm most likely going to revert the blog back to just bringing you news on Iban. I'm far from decided yet though, so please feel free to speak your mind in the comments section below.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Euskaltel news

  • Yeah! The ENECO Tour has finally come to a conclusion. Fittingly for Euskaltel's performance in the race it ended with an ITT, so it was obvious that the team wouldn't set the world alight today either. Aitor H did well to come home 27th, but other than that it was a bad experience looking at the results. Aitor was also best placed overall eventually, landing 51st place.
  • Galdeano has outlined the team's objectives for the Vuelta, telling El Correo that they're looking for "at least one stage-win" and a podium place, or something close, for Igor. Galdeano expects Mikel, Iñigo and Egoi to be able to help him in the mountains, but admits Igor is still not at the level of Sastre, Contador and Valverde. I think a podium place is a longshot, but as long as Igor wins on the Angliru I can die a happy man.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Deutchland and ENECO

Nothing new from Iban as of yet, so I'll stick to informing you on Euskaltel. It was, sadly, another day in the ENECO Tour today, and Euskaltel was, again, nowhere to be seen. Okay, maybe I'm coming down a bit hard on them, but frankly, I'm disappointed. There's still a long way to go until the season comes to an end, so there's no use in throwing in the towel just yet. I know the flat stages in the Benelux area isn't exactly the team's cup of tea, but I had at least hoped to see them in a break or three. But the race is still not over... Haimar, Iñaki, Markel, Juanjo, Jorge, Lander, Jon and Aitor H will fly the Basque flag in the Deutschland Tour in three days time. I hope to see Haimar leave the team on a high, but I wouldn't bet my life on it. The team doesn't really seem up for it these days, at least not in countries like Germany and the aforementioned Benelux countries. Still, though, I have a hope of seeing Haimar at his best once more.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Euskaltel news

  • ENECO stage 5: Another dismal day. No one in the break, no one inside the peloton. The remaining six Euskaltel riders all came in a massive 14:45 down. The guys seem totally disillusioned, they probably can't wait for the race to end.
  • Plouay: Juanjo did well to get into the break of the day, but, other than that, not a good performance from the team. Haimar did okay to come home 31st, inside the main pack, but he was the only rider inside that group. Markel came in 4:3o down, Juanjo 6:10, while Jon, Iñaki and Jorge came in with the very last group, a big 9:09 down on Fedrigo. The team is obviously doing something wrong these days, as it only seems a handful of riders are capable of getting results. Most of them seem to be far off top form, something which is alarming considering many of them didn't enjoy the best of early-seasons to say the least.
  • Finally the full Vuelta a España line-up has been revealed: Igor, Koldo, Egoi, Mikel, Iñigo, Amets, Rubén, Alán and Iván. No surprises there then. Iñigo, Alán and Iván all made the cut as expected. Jorge is listed as a reserve in the case of anyone falling ill or something in the lead-up to the race.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Astana spoils the party in Puertos

Today's Clásica a los Puertos became a battle between two teams; Euskaltel and Astana. Unfortunately, Astana once again showed they were the strongest by out-manouvring Iñigo, Igor, Mikel, Amets, Egoi and the rest to take the win. The hilly race saw a flurry of attacks from the whole team, and especially Igor, Iñigo and Mikel looked good. Leipheimer and Contador were just too strong in the end for our boys, who had to make do with Iñigo's fifth place as the best result. Igor did well to claim 9th, while Mikel, Rubén, Egoi, Iván and Amets were not far behind in 12th, 13th, 17th, 27th and 29th respectively. Alán ended up in 44th place. Looking at the results, it seems obvious that Iñigo will get to ride the Vuelta. He's in awesome form, he's just, like a number of riders on the team, missing out on the wins. If he can hold his form for a little while longer though, his first win of the season must be right round the corner.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Puertos line-up

Euskaltel will tomorrow take part in the Clásica Internacional a los Puertos de Guadarrama, a small Spanish one-day race. The team is looking good for a push for the win, with Igor, Egoi, Koldo, Iñigo, Rubén, Mikel, Amets, Iván and Alán all lining up. Jon Odriozola will be in the team car to hopefully guide the team to a much-needed win in an otherwise quite lacklustre season.

ENECO misery

I haven't updated you on the ENECO Tour since the prologue I think, but there's a reason for it; there's nothing to say! It's been nothing short of a complete failure, the only positive being that Javier got into the break of the day on stage 2 or something. They even struggle, and often fail, to even come in with the main pack. Dioni even abandoned on the first stage, prompting the media to speculate if maybe that's it for his career. Dioni has, allegedly, given no reason for pulling out, so it doesn't look for him as far as a new contract is concerned.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Quartet signs on

Alán, Iván, Markel and Josu have all signed a contract that will keep them with the team until the end of the 2009 season. The news came just a couple of days after the announcement that Mikel has decided to prolong his contract, so the team is shaping up for next season.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Haimar's final goodbye

Finally the departing Haimar decided to write about his transfer to Astana on his own website. Here's what the latest entry on the Euskaltel legend's homepage reads:

The best decision for all parts

I've spoken to many newspapers the last few days, and now it's time to tell all of you who follow my career on this website about my decision to leave the team, a team I've been with all my life. It seems like yesterday that this team gave me the possibility of fulfilling one of my major dreams; becoming a professional cyclist. It's been 11 years. During these 11 years the team has been growing little by little. I feel privileged to have been able to contribute a little bit to this cause. Words of gratefulness is all I've got for the people I've gotten to know while with this team. My team-mates, the staff, the fans, the sponsor, and, above all, Miguel Madariaga, the man who gave me the chance to become a professional cyclist. After all these years, I believe that parting ways is the best decision for both me and the team. I'm 31 and I need new challenges. In addition, the time is ripe to make way for the young talent at the team. As for Euskaltel Euskadi, I wish them the best of luck. It's a team I'll remember with affection. My next stop will be Astana. It'll be a challenge, but a challenge I'm relishing. I hope to pay back the confidence they've shown in me by giving my utmost while on the road. Thank you so much for supporting me all these years. I hope I can still give you reasons to cheer me on.


The ENECO Tour started today, though without Iñigo for one reason or another. The team could have lined up 8 riders, but, and this says a lot of the race's importance to the team, chose to go with 7. Those seven were Aitor H, Andoni, Josu, Javier, Dioni, Gorka and Beñat. A few of them, or most of them to be honest, need to show what they've got at the race to be able to stay on with the team. Quite a few of these riders are in the danger zone of being axed, as the team will drastically reduce the number of riders going into the 2009 season. None of them did though, as Gorka, who's not in the danger zone, was the best of the guys in the prologue, ending up 38th, 17 seconds adrift. Javier placed 61st, at 20 seconds, Beñat was 71st, at 23, Josu 87th at 25, Aitor 97th at 29 seconds, Andoni 128th at 39, while Dioni came in dead last, a full 55 seconds back. Not a great start, but I wasn't really expecting it either. I do expect, though, to see some of them in the breaks the coming week. Especially guys like Dioni, Beñat, Andoni, Aitor H and Josu who, I fear, may be among the casualities come the end of the season. I know nothing about it though. For all I know they may all be assured a place on the team for next year. We'll soon find out...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Mikel prolongs

Finally some good news; Mikel has prolonged his contract. Mikel will stay with the team at least until the end of the 2010 season. Mikel is showing immense progression, has had an outstanding season and is still young. He's vital to the team. Speaking after sealing the deal, Mikel said: "I'm very happy to stay two more years with my local team. I think to be in the Basque Euskaltel Euskadi team is special. Now I want to thank and repay the confidence shown by the team on the road. This year has been a year good for me, but I think I have room for improvement and I hope for further progression." We all do, 'cause if he indeed improves, he'll be one hell of a rider.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Haimar happy with move

Even though neither Euskaltel nor Haimar himself have confirmed the transfer to Astana, Haimar has expressed his delight at joining Bruyneel's team. "The Astana Team is the best stage-racing team in the world", he said. "I've always admired Johan Bruyneel's teams and to race for him and the best riders is a big honour. I am thankful for the past eleven years, but I'm also excited for the new opportunities and challenges that lie ahead." Sorry all Americans, US Postal/Discovery Channel/LA fans, but what is there to admire with Bruyneel? I know I'm going to piss off a lot of people now, but, come on, we all know his teams have been, yeah, full of dope. It's a strong statement, but I'm serious. I'm sure many of you disagree with me, but if you want to reply to the allegations, though that word sounds really bad, in the comments section, please try to stay serious and not go totally bananas. Anyway, as you've might have noticed by now, this whole case makes me sad. Euskaltel need Haimar, though it doesn't seem Haimar needs Euskaltel I'm afraid.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Haimar leaves team for Astana

An already sad, sad season took another turn for the worse with the announcement that Haimar is leaving the team in order to join Astana. The news was just published on Astana's homepage. More later...

Euskaltel round-up

After a few hectic days it's time to give you the latest news on Euskaltel. Not that there's that much to tell to be honest, but here it goes:

  • Euskaltel have released their preliminary Vuelta a España line-up. Igor, Mikel, Koldo, Amets, Rubén, Alán and Egoi will definitely take the start. Three riders, Jorge, Iván and Iñigo, will have to fight it out for the remaining two spots, though Iñigo's strong form of late should secure him a place on the team.
  • After his gold in the road race and 6th place in the ITT, Samu was given a grand reception when he returned to Oviedo, Asturias. Samu revealed that, yes, his tears on the podium after winning gold was due to his mother's death 8 years ago. He also revealed that he won't ride the Vuelta, but that he'll ride the Tour of Poland instead to prepare for the Worlds in Varese.
  • Euskaltel for the ENECO Tour, 20/8-27/8: Iñigo, Gorka, Dioni, Andoni, Josu, Beñat and Javier. Antton is listed to race, but he's sadly retired, so someone will have to replace him.
  • Euskaltel for GP Plouay: Haimar, Juanjo, Iñaki, Markel, Jon, Lander and the Aitors.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Iban keeping quiet

We're all waiting for Iban to say something. So far it's been all silence. I'm curious to what he'll say. He's got two, no, wait, three options; 1: confessing (unlikely). 2: Take the "I'm not saying anything, I'll leave that to my lawyer"-approach (likely). 3: Maintain he's innocent and appeal (very likely). I'm not saying one of them would be better than the other. I think he'll appeal though, as his lawyer recently said the odds of winning the battle in the Swiss Federal Court are good. It seems many of you have lost faith in him, calling him to confess. I completely understand that, I do. But I'm not convinced he doped at last year's Tour. I won't take a stand on the matter until he says something. Though, if he should confess, I won't come down too hard on him. Don't get me wrong, I'm probably one of the biggest anti-doping advocats out there, but he's my hero after all. I choose to stand by him, though I'll never, ever, support him in taking drugs, if that's really what he's done. Drugs are bad, end of story. If it's revealed that he's been doping, I'll never defend his actions. If he's been doping, he needs to go. But if he chooses to battle on, I'll support that. I'm keeping the faith. Many may call me naive or accuse me of being a hypocrit. To those of you who do; I get your point. But I hope you get mine too.

Iban may appeal

There's still hope for Iban. According to his lawyer, José Rodriguez, he may appeal the CAS' decision to suspend him. Iban has two possibilities; he can appeal to the Swiss Federal Court, or to the Comité Español de Disciplina Deportiva. Rodriguez says it's likely that they will continue the quest to clear Iban's name, but that the decision on whether to appeal or not lies only with Iban. Today's DEIA includes an extensive feature on Iban's case, and all the flaws in the process, and is definetely worth a read. Many of you sceptics might change your minds if you choose to read it. I'd love to translate it all for you, but it's too difficult to be honest. My English vocabulary doesn't include all those doping-related expressions. But definetely worth to check out:

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Iban suspended

The CAS finally managed to reach a conclusion. But it wasn't the right one; they suspended Iban for two years, meaning he has approximately 11 months left "to serve". I was shocked to read the news, it was a slap in the face. I never expected this. The CAS' statement reads: "The CAS panel was of the opinion the decision of the UCI to proceed to a new analysis of the B sample was in accordance with the letter and spirit of the UCI anti-doping regulations", and as a result upheld the UCI's decision to suspend him. This was a tad short I thought, so I checked CAS' own website for more info. At their page I found the following statement:


Lausanne, 12 August 2008, The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has upheld the appeal filed by the International Cycling Union (UCI) in a case involving the Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC) and the Spanish cyclist Iban Mayo. Accordingly, the CAS disqualified Iban Mayo from the Tour de France 2007 and imposed a two-year ban as from 31 July 2007. The UCI had challenged the decision of the RFEC to terminate the disciplinary case of Iban Mayo at the end of the last year and had submitted the case to the CAS. Iban Mayo had undergone an anti-doping control on 24 July 2007, during the Tour de France. The A-sample analysis, performed by the Anti-doping laboratory of Châtenay-Malabry (LNDD), revealed the presence of recombinant EPO. Due to the annual closing of the LNDD, the B-sample analysis had been conducted by the Laboratory in Ghent (Belgium). This laboratory requested the opinion of another laboratory in Sydney, which had itself indicated that the result of the B-sample analysis was “inconclusive”. The UCI had then decided that the B-sample analysis should be performed by the LNDD but the athlete had objected to such decision. On 6 December 2007, the LNDD confirmed the presence of recombinant EPO in the B-sample. The RFEC had finally concluded that the B-sample was not positive and had decided to terminate the procedure. The CAS Panel was of the opinion that the decision of the UCI to proceed to a new analysis of the B-sample was in accordance with the letter and the spirit of the UCI Anti-Doping Regulations and of the international standard for laboratories. Furthermore, the Panel stated that the two analyses performed by the LNDD had brought the clear evidence of the presence of recombinant EPO in the urine of Iban Mayo. The cyclist is suspended for a period of two years from 31 July 2007, namely, on the day when he was suspended by his team (Saunier Duval) and deprived of his salary.

Iban has, at least as far as I know, not made any public statement regarding the matter, but I assume he will in the near future. It's a travesty, nothing less, and he's probably going through hell once again now I'm afraid. I have no idea whether he'll retire or not, but I have a bad feeling we've seen Iban race for the last time. More to follow...

Monday, August 11, 2008

Haimar's diary

Here's what Haimar wrote on his own website just after the conclusion of the Tour de France, titled "Now I need to recover":

After training and competing for two months, it's finally time to recover. The Tour de France, the great objective of the year, did not work out at all. The first 10 days were not the best for me, but I got better towards the end of the race. I was feeling better in the Alps and managed to get into some breaks.

Speaking of the winner, Carlos Sastre, I have to say that I'm very pleased on his behalf, as he's always been a very constant and humble rider. He had the best team at his disposal this Tour, and he won the race with his strength and consistency in the mountains and in the last time trial. I met Carlos already when I was a junior. At the Vuelta a Bidasoa, for example, he easily beat both me and Mancebo. After that he raced with Banesto, while I raced with Olarra.

I felt good in my last race, the Clásica San Sebastián. I was not at my very best, but I still managed to come in with the best ones. Although I knew my chances of winning the race were minimal, being among the best, and especially so close to home, made me feel good. I'm pleased.

Now it's time to recover, but I'll keep active, as the season's still far from over. I didn't include the Vuelta a España in my calendar at the start of the season, and I'll stick to that. However, I'll still ride big races, like the Deutchland Tour and the GP Plouay and Vattenfall Cyclassics. I'll do my utmost. After those races, the season is as good as finished for me.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Golden pics

Samu's golden talk

After securing Euskaltel it's biggest win ever, Samu talked to the team's website. Here's what the Olympic champion had to say: "This is a dream. When I crossed the finish-line I didn't know what to do. I said "ahora", but I didn't really think it over. I was a bit scared of the humidity, so I made sure I kept myself hydrated all the time. I'm not fully aware of what I've just done. I won't fully realize it until I speak to my best friends and family. Winning the Olympics is amazing: you win a one-day race and you're the champion for four years. We knew that there were some top, top favourites, like Valverde and Bettini, and riders, not of less quality, but with fewer options, like Rebellin and Cancellara. I knew that my form was good. I was 7th in the Tour and the Clásica San Sebastián went the way I hoped it would. The difficult thing here was to control the race, given the humidity and warmth. The route though was spectacular. To see all of Beijing, and all it's attractions, was fantastic. We (Team Spain) have not acted like a selection, we've acted like a team. And we've had a great captain, Carlos Sastre, who always told us what to do, and Antequera ( the team boss) has been magnificent; he knows how to make us work together. All this resulted in Olympic gold."

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Samu is God

Samu is God. Yes he is. You know why, I know why, we all know why. I know you all know it, but just for the sake of it: Samu won the Olympic road race today! That was simply unbelievable. Amazing. Breathtaking. Fantastic. I'm running out of superlatives already... What a day. What a rider! I started dreaming of gold with 15 kilometres to go but, man, I never really expected it to materialize. Simply out of this world. Euskaltel have the Olympic champion. Suddenly Euskaltel's season turned from OK to awesome. And Samu's life is about to take a turn as well... I don't know what to say. I don't think there's much to say really. I just want EVERYONE who reades this to post their greetings/congratulations to Samu/experience of the event in the comments section. Congrats Samu! Congrats Euskaltel! Congrats Spain! Congrats everyone!

Iñigo 2nd in Burgos

Iñigo pulled off a great performance to claim 2nd overall in the Vuelta a Burgos today. The race ended with a hilly stage, and Iñigo was always on the look-out for opportunities to climb onto the final podium. And so he did by placing 10th on the stage, only 46 seconds back on the winner. The whole team got behind Iñigo's chase for the podium. On the last climb Iván and Igor did their utmost to help their captain. Iván placed a very creditable 16th himself, while Igor ended up 18th. Both ended up at about 2:30 down, and they both look to be on track for the Vuelta. Though a 2nd overall is great, I can't but be annoyed by another second place. The team have racked up too many 2nd places to remember I feel this year; the luck has got to change soon. Great performance from Iñigo once again though. He's enjoying a good year. Final GC:

  • 2nd, Iñigo Landaluze
  • 22nd, Iván Velasco
  • 27th, Igor Antón
  • 71st, Alán Pérez
  • 76th, Aitor Hernández
  • 91st, Jorge Azanza
  • 102nd, Koldo Fernández

Friday, August 08, 2008

Antton Luengo retires from cycling

It's a very sad day for Euskaltel and Antton fans alike. At the tender age of 27 he has decided to quit the sport with immediate effect. My favourite Euskaltel rider held talks with the team management yesterday and informed them of his decision. The team issued the following statement: "Antton Luengo met Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano and Miguel Madariaga to communicate his decision to leave the professional sport of cycling after five years with the team. The people in charge of the Fundacion Euskadi Ciclista are thankful for the integrity and professionalism the cyclist from Gautegiz Arteaga has shown while with Euskaltel Euskadi, and his work in making the team one of the best in the world. Antton Luengo himself is also very thankful towards the Fundacion Euskadi Ciclista and it's behaviour, and the fact that the people in charge of the organisation have always been to his disposition." It's a sad, sad story that of Antton. He's never won a race, though he's come close several times, but the sad thing is that his talent, which is undoubted, at least to me, has never been fulfilled. He's showed prowess in the mountains several times, especially when he, in tanded with Igor, set Iban up for his 2006 Subida a Urkiola success while placing a very strong 6th himself. I reckon he could have developed into a super domestique for the captains of the team. But it's all about turning talent into performances... He's endured a lot of problems, of the personal sort, lately, and he's been totally out of form this year. Though, at just 27, he had his whole career in front of him. I'm shattered to see him leave, but I wish him the best for a better future.

Koldo fails to grab another

Koldo didn't manage to secure back-to-back stage-wins at the Vuelta a Burgos today. All he could muster was a very distant 22nd place, so something clearly went wrong. I didn't get to see the stage, so I have no idea to be honest... Iñigo kept hold of his 4th place overall going into tomorrow's hilly stage, so hopefully he can improve on that and take the step onto the podium.

Koldo takes number 4!

Koldo took his season-tally win to four today by winning the third stage of the Vuelta a Burgos. Koldo out-sprinted fellow fast-men Van Dijk and Hutarovich to easily take the win and raise his arms in celebration; a we're quickly becoming accustomed to. I've had no success in finding any post-race interviews, but the Spanish newspapers are sure to be full of them tomorrow... As for the other guys, Iñigo advanced to 4th overall, so he looks like a good bet for a final podium placing. All the other guys came through the stage OK, though Jorge lost 34 seconds. But who cares? This is a goooood day!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Koldo misses in spint; Antton drops out

It was a bad day for the team in Burgos today. The team didn't manage to get into the break of the day and was thus forced to chase. The chase was successful, but Koldo's sprint wasn't. Koldo couldn't do better than 9th in a field not exactly littered with world-class sprinters. That was a let-down, and so too was Antton's decision to abandon. I don't know why he chose to quite the race, but it's obvious he's going through a rough patch. All the other riders finished though, so at least that's a positive.

Iñigo shows form in Burgos opener

Iñigo confirmed his good form by placing 5th on the opening stage of the Vuelta a Burgos yesterday. A big, 31-man strong break got clear early, and they were left to fight it out for the win. Iñigo was the team's sole representative in that break, and did very well to claim 5th place, a spot he naturally also occupies overall too. The bunch, including Alán, Iván and Aitor H, came in 2:36 back. Igor, Jorge and Koldo came in with the next big group at 3:15, while Antton continues to struggle, coming home dead last, 9:37 back. I really feel for Antton, hopefully his luck will change very soon.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Igor to lead team in Burgos

Igor will continue to hone his form for the Vuelta a España by taking part in the Vuelta a Burgos. The five-day stage-race, which Iban won two years ago, will see Euskaltel field a strong team. Joining Igor in the line-up will be Koldo, the Aitors, Iñigo, Alán, Jorge and Iván. Everyone will try to impress to earn their place on the Vuelta-team, so they are all likely to be really motivated. Igor said he was content with yesterday's Subida a Urkiola, which he finished in 36th place, and that he'll continue to prepare for the three-week tour in Burgos. He's still far away from top shape, but expect him to improve day by day.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Gorka 10th in Urkiola

Gorka rode superbly to claim 10th in the tough Subida a Urkiola today. Designated team-leader and pre-race favourite, Igor, was, as he said himself prior to the race, not in the best shape, and finished way back in 36th place, 4:08 adrift. He's just starting to prepare himself for the Vuelta, so I wouldn't expect too much of him in the upcoming races. But without Igor the team didn't really have a candidate for the win. Gorka did his very best though and finished 10th as I said. Though a 10th place finish in a small Spanish one-day race doesn't set the world alight, I'm very impressed. The Subida a Urkiola is a VERY tough race, always won by pure climbers, with the goal-line at the top of the final climb, so to see him so far ahead, in front or guys like Merchante, Redondo, Nocentini, Txurruka and Mosquera, is very satisfying. He's really turning into a decent climber this Gorka. Aupa! The rest of the guys were never in the mix. Amets was 22nd, Igor 36th, Aitor H 40th, Juanjo 45th, Markel 54th, Beñat 62nd and Jon 74th. Jorge and Andoni both abandoned.

Good try in San Sebastián

Euskaltel did their very best to secure a win in the Clásica San Sebastián yesterday but, in the end, had to settle for a 7th and a 9th place. It was a great performance though, nonetheless, from the team. The race really started 80 kilometres into the race, when a 46-man strong break, including Samu, Haimar, Gorka and the two Pérezs, got clear of the bunch. This group, containing most of the favourites, quickly got a big gap, leaving the guys at the back totally disillusioned. They just as well decided to abandon the whole race, leaving the 46 riders at the front to fight it out for the win. Alán and Rubén both showcased their undoubted team-spirit as they sacrificed themselves for the three others by taking control of the peloton. A flurry of attacks followed at the Alto de Jaizkíbel, but none managed to get away. Both Samu and Haimar tried their luck later on, but it came down to a sprint between 10 riders. Alejandro Valverde easily took out the win, with Samu finishing 7th and Haimar 9th. Gorka came in together with Siutsou and Contador 1:48 adrift. Rubén and Alán, to their grear credit, finished the race, coming home 35th and 45th respectively. Due to his 9th place, Haimar won the "Best Basque"-award, while the team finished 2nd in the team ranks and is now ranked 4th overall. Mikel is still 7th in the individual UCI Pro Tour classifications, while Haimar is 11th. A great day our for the team, but the wins continue to elude them.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Rodriguez clears Aketza; Iban next?

Aketza Peña being cleared of doping wasn't just good news for the rider himself. It was also good for Iban. Why? Because Iban and Aketza share the same lawyer; José Rodriguez, the former president of the Association of Professional Cyclists. Rodriguez was successful in proving that the Anti-Doping Laboratory in Athens committed mistakes in their testing of the original sample. CAS duly cleared the rider of doping, something which no doubt bodes well for Iban. If Rodriguez managed to solve Aketza's case, then Iban's shouldn't be a problem at all. There are far more irregularities committed by the UCI in Iban's case than what was the case with Aketza. This doesn't change anything of course, as Rodriguez finished his job in CAS several months ago. Right now CAS are just thinking it over, though one could be excused for wondering how slowly some people seem to think. If Iban's cleared though, I'll no doubt be José Rodriguez's biggest fan.


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