Sunday, January 30, 2011

"It made me grow up"

It's well documented that Samuel Sánchez's mother died of cancer at the tender age of 44. Samu was just 21 at the time and in his first season with Euskaltel. Over 10 years later it's still a touchy topic for the Olympic champion, but he claims it made him mature, El Correo writes. "In my case (cancer in the family) it made me grow up. She succumbed to the disease only 44 years old. It made me mature. I learned to look at things from another perspective, to value the important things in this life. That's why, when people ask me what I want most in my life, I say 'health'. In my family, cancer has taken many away from us. There's no warning."

"He's like Messi"

Samu Sánchez did not mince his words when asked to rate Igor Antón and his chances of winning next year's Vuelta by El Correo yesterday. The Olympic champ, ever the gracious one, even compared his younger compatriot with a certain Lionel Messi. "He's a 'crack', he's a monster", Samu said. "He's able to do things that nobody else can. He's similar to Messi. In some races it might look like he's struggling, but then suddenly he leaves them all trailing in his wake. That's Igor. He's a climber, and this year's Vuelta is for a climber. He could already have won the race in 2010. He was superior to the rest. The third week, the most difficult, was still to done, but he would have gone on to take an unsurmountable lead."

Friday, January 28, 2011

Orbea makeover

This is the first official pic of the new Orbea jerseys. The Conti team will thus be largely black compared to the blue of years gone by. I for one thinks it looks really good; a lot better than the old one, that's for sure. JJ Oroz also approved of the new look on Twitter. Anyway, the team will conduct three group-rides this weekend. The first one, today, will have taken place in Derio, while they'll head to Alsasua and Vitoria-Gasteiz on Saturday and Sunday respectively. Euskaltel's feeder-team will kick off their season at the Mallorca Challenge next Sunday.

Camp update

After completing the planned group rides on Tuesday and Wednesday, which consisted of roughly 120 clicks, the Euskaltel riders were forced to give in to the bad weather on the Costa Blanca on Thursday and reduce the number of kilometres. It wasn't a total waste, though, as the two groups, divided by the intensity of training needed to reach their early- or late-season goals respectively, still got a reasonable amount of training in. The first group, which is planning to peak for Paris-Nice and the Vuelta al País Vasco, consisted of, among others, Samu Sánchez, Gorka Verdugo, Romain Sicard and Egioi Martínez, and the second group, aiming for a peak in form come May and the Giro, was made up of the likes of Igor Antón, Mikel Nieve, JJ Oroz and Jonathan Castroviejo. Amets Txurruka was originally going to ride with that first group but, due to the fall in training he undertook here the other day and the resulting pain in his left knee, he opted for an easier ride on the rollers as a precautionary measure. The Down Under-riders are taking it easy these first days of the camp before hopefully being competitive at the Mallorca Challenge early next month. Weather permitting, the riders will, like they did on Wednesday, complete an intense 150km ride today.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

"No one can copy us"

Igor González de Galdeano waxed lyrical about the uniqueness of his team to DEIA here the other day. "This team has united a whole country", he told Alain Laiseka. "That's the team's big accomplishment. It seemed that the team Euskaltel-Euskadi was the idea and project of the Basque Government and the number one party when it was established, but now another party has taken over and they still support us. To actually have the word 'Euskadi' in the team-name is what sets this team apart from many other teams. No other team is like that. The Andalucía and Xacobeo teams... They were unfruitful attempts do to what we've done. Also in Britain they tried to do something similar. They asked Miguel Madariaga for acvice on how to do it, how to pull something like this off. But it didn't help them. Euskaltel-Euskadi can not be immitated. Also you've got Astana, Katusha, the Luxembourg team... But those are countries with big economic resources. Euskaltel is the only team with the name of it's country being part of the team-name. What hurts me is that most people will only realise what this team means when it disappears, if it disappears. Miguel always talks about how this team has no end. I don't know, but I'm used to the fact that everything comes to an end."

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Team to send stars to Andalucía

According to Biciciclismo, Euskaltel will send the following star-studded team to the Vuelta a Andalucía: Samuel Sánchez, Sicard, Gorka Izagirre, Rubén Pérez, Koldo Fernández, Sesma and Urtasun. The race will be run from the 20th of February to the 24th.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Challenge Mallorca-team shaping up

Euskaltel will send no less than 15 riders to the five-day Challenge Mallorca starting the sixth of February. While the full roster hasn't been decided upon yet, Koldo Fernández and Iván Velasco are supposed to lead the team, writes el Diario Vasco. The seven riders that took part in the recently-concluded Tour Down Under, the Izagirre brothers, Sesma, Minguez, R Pérez, Isasi and the aforementioned Velasco, are all pencilled in to take part. One who won't be lining up is Samu Sánchez, who has his eyes fixed on Paris-Nice and the Vuelta al País Vasco in the first part of the campaign. The team, spare for the Australian seven, is currently in Mutxamel on the Alicante coast gearing up for the season ahead. Apart from Amets Txurruka, who took a light tumble in training but is in no way seriously injured, every single rider is reported to be in good health and rearing to get the 2011 season underway. The team will hold it's official presentation next Thursday, the third of January, in Sán Sebastián.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Down Under round-up

The Tour Down Under concluded yesterday morning, and sadly the team were left with no tangible rewards for their week-long efforts in terms of results. Not that they fared badly, though. Gorka Izagirre was as expected Euskaltel's main man for GC and stage honours, and he came oh so close with a brave and valient ride on the fifth and penultimate stage to Willunga. Izagirre impressively stayed in the leading 15-man group on the hilly stage, and tried to catch the group cold with a powerful surge inside the last kilometre. For a while it looked like he might just pull it off, but he was reeled in inside the last 100 or so. Tough luck, but at least he got to show his form is right where it should be. Stages four and six were largely uneventful, but the strong Willunga-ride meant he finished up a solid 12th overall. Iván Velasco weren't too far off either, coming home 23rd. Rubén Pérez was 40th, Isasi 41st, Minguez 51st, debutant Jon Izagirre 72nd, and Daniel Sesma once again endured a painful Down Under, ending up as number 109. In the team ranks, Euskaltel finished an okay 10th. Next up for the team is the annual Spanish calendar-opener, the Mallorca Challenge.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Izagirre sprints to 7th on stage 3

Gorka Izagirre today continued his strong start to the season by sprinting to a highly-creditable seventh place on stage three of the Tour Down Under from Unley to Stirling. The youngster was in the break of the day and won the sprint jersey in Sunday's opening crit, placed 15th in yesterday's stage and went even better today. A 24-rider group came in seven seconds ahead of the rest, and in part due to these seven seconds he's now a promising 15th overall. The other guys had a quiet day. Isasi and Velasco rolled in with the next group at seven seconds, while R Pérez was 13 seconds down, Minguez 54, Izagirre junior 3:11 and Sesma finished 6:07 in arrears. Euskaltel are a good seventh in the team rankings.

Due to school commitments I'll be unable to update the blog in the next few days as I'll be without an internet connection. I'll be back on Sunday, though, so until then, take care!

Sicard in action

Go to the link bellow to see live footage of Romain Sicard gearing up for the 2011 season. French television interviewed him and followed him around on a training round, and here's the 3-minute summary:

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Rubén Pérez happy with Down Under adventure

Rubén Pérez is currently taking part in the World Tour curtain-raiser Tour Down Under for the first time. Writing a diary-like entry at, he doesn't regret making the long trip to the other side of the planet. "This year I've started the season almost a month earlier than usual", he wrote. "Climate-wise, make that five months. I wanted to come and race here, and so far I'm very pleased. Aside from practicing this sport, this passion of mine, I've been able to see kangaroos, koalas and a beautiful country. These first two stages have been for the sprinters. The pace has been high and the level of sprinters down here is superb. But that makes it dangerous as well. It's the start of the season, we're all keen, and we enter the last kilometre with force and like 'locos'. There have been too many falls, but I hope that's going to change. Personally, I feel better every day. The jet-lag is disappearing and I hope to mix it up soon. With my team, which I feel are very motivated, we're here, on form, to reach our goals, which is to grab points for the World Tour-ranking among other things.

Team come through stage 2 unscathed

All Euskaltel riders are reported to be fine and good to go for tomorrow after today's crash-marred second stage of the Tour Down Under took it's toll on the peloton. Several pile-ups occurred, but the men in orange escaped injury as only one or two of them (I think) hit the tarmac but were quickly back on their bikes. All in all it was an unremarkable stage from Euskaltel's point of view as, despite intent from Daniel Sesma and Gorka Izagirre, they didn't succeed in getting into the main break. All riders rolled in with the peloton though, and Gorka placed 15th in the sprint, so not a bad day at all. Minguez managed to hold on to his top-10 overall placing, now lying ninth.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Euskaltel everywhere in Australia

Euskaltel were omnipresent in today's first stage proper of the Tour Down Under; a rather flat 138km trek from Mawson Lakes to Angaston. Jon Izagirre and Miguel Minguez were both on the attack early on, and they both succeeded in making up part of the five-man breakaway group that stayed off the front for the majority of the race. With two riders in a break of five the team was perfectly placed, but naturally the break was doomed due to the amazing list of sprinters present. Simon Clarke jumped out of the group inside the last 20 clicks and was accompanied by Minguez, but the brave duo were swalloped up inside the last seven. Due to picking up bonus seconds throughout the stage, Minguez is now a solid seventh overall. Gorka Izagirre grabbed second place and with it 12 points on the day's only climb, meaning he's naturally second in that particular competition. Awesome. In the dash for the line Iñaki Isasi grabbed a very impressive eighth place. Considering the aforementioned host of sprinters at the race, that's not bad. All in all a good day for the team I reckon. So too does DS Josu Larrazabal apparantly, who gave the following endorsement of the squad post-stage: "I'm very happy with the whole team. We were combative and active. It's very difficult to surprise anyone in this race, so all we can do is do what we do best and show our fighting spirit". All riders ended up with the same time as victor Matt Goss.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Izagirre active in Crit opener

Gorka Izagirre got his and the team's season off to a good start by being in the break of the day and winning the intermediate sprints jersey in the Cancer Council Classic today, the traditional 51km race on a 1,7km circuit in Adelaide that is a seperate event to the Tour Down Under. Along with erstwhile team-mate Irizar, Luke Durbridge, Martin Mortensen and Aliaksandr Kuchynski, Izagirre senior made up the main break. The pace was too much to handle for Irizar and Kuchynski, but the remaining three were only reeled in with something like 10 clicks to go. None of the Euskaltel riders managed to mix it up in a crash-marred and chaotic dash for the line, but they all crossed the line safe and sound inside the peloton. Izagirre was awarded his jersey at the podium post-race, so no doubt a good start to the 2011 season for him.

Saturday, January 15, 2011


  • The Euskaltel team Down Under today did a three-hour, 85km training ride in and around host town Adelaide. The temperatures are said to reach a soaring 35 degrees celsius by midday tomorrow, so to avoid the heat the guys will get up early and get the training out of the way before it gets unbearably hot.
  • The team's car-supplier, Skoda, will tomorrow host a celebration of a kind in Paseo Txingudi. Samu Sánchez and Romain Sicard will be present at the event among a host of other stars and celebrities.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Costa Blanca team camp 2.0

Euskaltel will stage a second team camp at the Costa Blanca later this month. The Tour Down Under riders, plus Sicard, Fernández, Txurruka and Castroviejo, got together at Spain's eastern coast from the 13th to the 22nd of december to hone their form in view of the season-opener Down Under, and now the rest of the team will meet up at the same place for a week-long camp starting the 24th of January.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Reactions to Vuelta route

Miguel Madariaga, Igor González de Galdeano, Samuel Sánchez and Igor Antón were all present at the unveiling of the 2011 Vuelta a España in Benidorm earlier today. A mountainous route was presented, so no wonder the guys were sounding optimistic when speaking to the press afterwards. "It really suits Igor Antón", said team head, and former number two in the race, Galdeano. "It's a race that motivates him, and he's said himself a few times that he likes the race. It's a Vuelta riddled with climbs, so if he arrives with the same kind of form he did in 2010, he'll be in with a good shot of finishing high up". Samu, who's still to make up his mind on whether to participate or not, stated the obvious and said: "It's a Vuelta more suited to the climbers than the rouleurs. There's forty kilometres against the clock, and they come in the second week. The riders who'll waste time in the time trial have the last week and the Angliru, Farrapona, Peña Cabarga and Manzaneda climbs to make it up". Antón was also happy with the unveiling, saying: "The Vuelta has been, and always will be, a special race to me. It's given me a lot, and this year there's an added incentive for me as the race passes my house and my home town. In addition, the parcours include the Angliru and the Peña Cabarga."

Euskaltel touch down Down Under

The Euskaltel team for the Tour Down Under have, after spending approximately 20 hours on a place, landed safe and sound in Adelaide, the customary host-town for the opening World Tour race of the 2011 season. After a 12-hour flight from Paris to Singapore on Monday, the travelling party spent the night at the Carlton hotel in the plush and busy city that is Singapore before making a seven-hour trip to Australia and Adelaide yesterday. The riders, Isasi, Velasco, Izagirre x2, R Pérez, Sesma and Minguez, will now start training and acclimatizing to the weather and the time-zone before the big kick-off in less than a week.

Antón a no-go for Giro GC

Igor Antón has moved to play down his chances of winning the upcoming Giro d'Italia, saying he'll aim for a stage-win more than for the general classification. Speaking to Alain Laiseka and DEIA, the featherweight climber said: "I'm very motivated for that race as it's my favourite. But I'm calm, I'm looking for a stage-win, not for the GC, as the last week is simply terrible". The fact that the last week is "terrible" should suit Antón, so I can't quite understand why he'd give that as a reason for not focussing on the overall. I think this is Antón and Euskaltel trying to play down expectations to be honest. If Igor's even remotely close to the leader board going into the last week and all those climbs, trust me, he'll aim for the GC.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Seguros Bilbao recruit ex-Euskaltel riders

Highly successful Basque outfit Seguros Bilbao have recruited two former Euskaltel riders and one from Orbea to work as sport directors at the team for the next few years. The latter is Julen Zubero, son of former pro Luiz Zubero and a close friend of Ibán Mayo's. Unai Uribarri, who's competed for both Orbea, Euskaltel and then Orbea again, has also been appointed, and so too has former Euskaltel and Banesto stalwart César Solaun, now 41 years old.

Hernández 10th in nationals

Aitor Hernández claimed a fine 10th place at the cyclo-cross nationals held yesterday. The now former Euskaltel climber finished 2:22 in arrears and was never really in contention for the win. He's still without a contract for the season that's just around the corner now, so it's not looking too rosy for him at the moment...

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Photoshop disaster

The Euskaltel riders have gotten their 2011 pics taken recently. Well, everyone but new signing Pierre Cazaux that is, though the team seems to want us to believe that the photo above really is one of Cazaux. A really lousy photoshop job is what I call it. He seems to be rather tanned in his face, but his arms are everything but. His "copy-and-paste"-face doesn't look too convincing either. Hilarious.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Euskaltel swap Catlike for Orbea

Euskaltel and helmet sponsor Catlike have decided to go separate ways after collaborating for over 11 years. The team's new helmet supplier is a familiar one: Orbea. Euskaltel will use the top-of-the-range Odin helmet, a helmet which has been used by Naturgas for a couple of years if I'm not mistaken. As you can see above it looks stunning, and from what I've heard it performs that way as well.


web site counter
ISP Internet Providers