Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Sánchez close to win

Samu Sánchez came close to a stage-win in the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana today. Samu attacked with 8 kms to go, but was brought back. Though, he showed his form is coming along nicely by taking 8th place in the final sprint, with Aitor Hernandez finishing 12th, Rúben Pérez 35th, Iban Velasco 45th, Mikel Astarloza 48th, Jon Bru 55th, Gorka Verdugo 69th, and Joseba Zubeldia 92nd. All Euskaltel riders avoided the fall in the pack in the closing kms, and came in with the main peloton. Though none of the Euskaltel riders were part of the break of the day, Mikel Astarloza, Aitor Hernandez and Rúben Pérez tried to get away once the break was caught. Sadly, none succeeded. As mentioned, Samu put in an effort as well, but didn`t get enough leeway. Though, the consistent riding by all riders mean Euskaltel now lie fourth overall in the teams classification. Aitor Hernandez is the best placed Euskaltel rider on GC, lying 11th. Rúben Pérez is 17th, while Samu lies 21st.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Pérez best placed rider for Euskaltel

Today`s first stage of the five-day Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana didn`t produce any noteworthy results or performances for Euskaltel. The 163 km-stage started and ended in Alzira, and was mainly flat. Gorka Verdugo tried to escape early on with former Euskaltel rider Egoi Martinez, but was brought back. The break thus went without any Euskaltel representative in it. Though, it all came down to a mass-sprint, where Rúben Pérez placed 14th, Aitor Hernandez 16th, Mikel Astarloza 19th, Ivan Velasco 29th, Samu Sánchez 49th, Joseba Zubeldia 71st and Jon Bru and Gorka Verdugo 88th and 89th respectively. All riders finished inside the bunch, and therefore Euskaltel lie 3rd in the team rankings.

Monday, February 26, 2007

News round-up

Well, I`m back home from visiting my sister, so I`m back writing. Certainly doesn`t seem like too much has happened since Thursday. Well, Ulle retired, finally, but I guess that hasn`t got anything to do with Iban or Euskaltel. Here`s what`s been going on the last couple of days:
  • Euskaltel for Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana: In the five-day stage-race starting on Tuesday, Euskaltel will line up with the following seven riders: Samu Sanchez, Mikel Astarloza, Joseba Zubeldia, Iván Velasco, Rubén Pérez, Aitor Hernández, Gorka Verdugo and Jon Bru. Gorka Gerrikagoitia will direct the team. Samu Sanchez, Jon Bru and Mikel Astarloza will be among the front-runners hopefully, and with some quite hilly stages on the menu, this could be interesting.

  • Today, Euskaltel future hopes Jorge Azanza and Igor Anton will do various tests on the velodrome in San Sebastian. Last week, Aitor Hernandez and Haimar Zubeldia were there. If everything goes according to plan, each Euskaltel rider will go to the velodrome with the purpose of improving TT skills.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Back on Monday

I`m leaving for a small vacation now, so the blog won`t be updated until Monday. I`m sorry, but once I`m back, I`ll write as much as I can. See you then...

Koldo: "I have mixed emotions"

After getting even closer to his much sought-after first win today, Koldo spoke to "I`m both pleased and disappointed about today. It`s a strange feeling. On one hand, I was second behind a class-rider like Freire. On the other hand, I feel bad, as you always imagin yourself winning when you`re so close to doing so. As the roads were dangerous today, it`s been necessary to take risks. Freire and six others got five seconds over me, but luckily I was able to catch them in time. Freire mounted an attack with 500 metres to go, and when I reacted, it was too late. Though, I`ll leave Andalucia pleased with my performances. Now, only the win is missing".

Odriozola pleased with Vuelta a Andalucia

Euskaltel director at the Vuelta a Andalucia, Jon Odriozola, had this to say to after the conclusion of the five-stage race: "The conclusion we can take from this race is that we have many young riders reaching a very high level. Antton Luengo, Jorge Azanza and Koldo Fernandez have shown that they can be among the best. The team have been almost perfect. We`ve been in all breaks, we`ve been second twice, third, fourth, sixth and eight. We`ve shown marvellous attitude here I think". On today`s stage he said: "The team have been great today as well. Beñat Albizuri was in the break of the day, and Koldo was only beaten by Freire. In addition, Jorge attacked on the last ascent while Unai was active on the descent. Though, the dangerous slope confused us. Here we`ve been in need of experience. Perhaps Antton and Jorge relaxed a bit too much, thinking we`d already won the team`s classification. It`s a pity we lost the win, as I think we`ve been the best team here. It would have been nice to have won it..."

Euskaltel riders for Pais Vasco training

The Zubeldia brothers, Iñigo Landaluze, Iñaki Isasi, Samuel Sánchez, Rubén Pérez, Ivan Velasco, Gorka Verdugo, Jon Bru, Mikel Astarloza and Aketza Peña, the team that will make up the roster for the Vuelta al Pais Vasco, trained together today, reports. These 11 riders did a 170-km training ride under the guidance of Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano. Galdeano had this to say about the session: "We trained at different intensities, so it`s been a dynamic session. We did this for two reasons: one, it`s quality training. Secondly such training unites the riders".

Koldo second in Andalucia

Euskaltel sprinter Koldo Fernandez once again showed his qualities in bunch-sprints by taking second place today, behind Oscar Freire. The last stage, from Écija to Antequera, was marked as a hilly stage that would favour the all-rounders. Beñat Albizuri once again joined the breakaway of the day, together with compatriot Piet Rooijakkers. Though they had a lead up to almost seven minutes, they were brought back by a hard-chasing peloton. On the final ascent Jorge Azanza tried to break loose, but didn`t succeed. It all came down to a sprint, where Koldo proved his worth.

As Koldo was second today, he advanced to fifth overall. As Antton Luengo lost 21 seconds today, he ended up a slightly disappointing 15th overall. Antton, Jorge and Unai Etxebarria all came in at the same time, meaning Jorge ended up 27th on GC and Unai 28th. Sadly, Euskaltel lost the lead in the team`s classification, ending up fourth. Antton was second overall in the Metas Volantes competition, while Beñat took second in the mountains`s competition. Koldo came fourth in the points` competition, and third in the classification for the Spanish riders.

Divided opinions on Iban`s Giro debut

I ran a poll titled "How will Iban fare in the Giro?". People were certainly divided over the matter. The majority, 31 %, voted for "Stage win". 27 % voted for "Top-10 overall", while only 4 % voted "Top-3 overall" and "Best climber". 12 % think Iban`s participation will turn out to be a "Total failure", while the remaining 23 % think Iban will get a "Top-30 overall". I`d go for a stage-win...

Iban finishes 18th overall

The Vuelta Andalucia ended today, with Iban finishing a solid 18th overall. Iban was in the end no more than 25 seconds behind overall winner Oscar Freire. On the hilly stage today, Iban came in 26th, 21 seconds adrift of winner Oscar Freire. Iban came in with a big chasing group, and proved his form is coming along nicely. Though, what his next race will be, I don`t know. As UCI today denied all Pro Tour teams to ride the Paris-Nice, because of the ongoing battle between race-organiser ASO and governing body UCI.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Koldo: "I`m getting closer"

After today`s third place in the Vuelta a Andalucia, sprinter Koldo Fernandez had this to say to :"I`m feeling very good. The truth is, I`m not that much better than other seasons, but I`m improving my positioning. That has always been my handicap. Although my strenght is good, I loose much on bad positioning. I want to thank Beñat Albizuri for the great work he did for me today. He guided me very well in the closing stages, and he helps me with the positioning as he takes me to the front". On his current season he said: "I`m racking up good results this campaign. I trained well this winter so that I would have a good start to the season. In Mallorca and Andalucia I was twice eight, once sixth, once fourth and, today, third. I`m almost always in the top-10 on the flat stages. It`s just a shame I always start with a disadvantage because of my positioning. Today, for example, I had to overcome Freire and started 10 metres behind Napolitano. Though, I didn`t loose further ground, I even reduced the gap a little. The experience I`m getting right now is invaluable. I`m not saying I`ll win anytime soon, but I`m getting closer. And someday..." Koldo further praised Euskaltel`s work in Andalucia, saying: "The team is doing phenomenal. We`re active in every race, we`re in all the breaks. That`s no coincidence, that`s a sign of our great form. During the race we`re all trying to help Antton (Luengo), as he`s very high on the GC, but in the sprints, Unai (Etxebarria) and I play our cards with the help of Beñat (Albizuri). Tomorrow`s stage is demanding, but I`ll try to stay with the best and I`m sure I`ll be there if there`s a sprint".

Koldo Fernandez third in Andalucia

In today`s fourth stage of the Vuelta a Andalucia, a 172 km ride from Cabra to Córdoba, Koldo Fernandez finished an impressing third, behind Boonen and Napolitano, but ahead of big-name sprinters as Freire and van Heeswijk. The stage saw the duo of Beumann and Lopéz Gil escape early on, though they were brought back in time for a bunch-sprint finish. Here Koldo took and impressing third. Koldo`s first win as a pro is certainly just a matter of time, as he`s proving time and time again that he can beat the very best.

Today`s stage saw Antton Luengo move up to fourth overall going into the last and hilly stag, while Koldo lies 8th. Antton is still the leader of the Metas Volantes competition as well. Euskaltel continue to lead the team`s classification by four seconds, and that victory should be attainable going into the fifth stage. All Euskaltel riders finished in the main peloton today, and if they do so tomorrow, Euskaltel will surely win the team`s competition.

Iban now 14th overall

Iban today conitnued his solid racing in the Vuelta a Andalucia. The penultimate stage took the riders the 179.2 km between Cabra and Córdoba, and Iban placed 25th, at the same time as winner Tom Boonen. Iban now lies 14th overall, only 5 seconds behind leader Cioni. Tomorrow`s stage is described as the climber`s stage, so maybe Iban will go for it? Let`s hope so...

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Koldo Fernandez takes 8th place

Koldo Fernandez was once again the best placed Euskaltel rider in the Vuelta a Andalucia. The third stage took the peloton from Guardia de Jaen to Jaen, and was considered a sprinter`s stage. And so it turned out. Max van Heeswijk of Rabobank took the win, with Koldo placing a slightly disappointing 8th. After the stage, Koldo said: "Rabobank worked well, and Freire was tremendous. I tried to follow Freire`s wheel, but I`m not pleased with coming in as number eight. I`ll try again tomorrow." There were no major changes to the overall standings, as Antton Luengo is still 5th, 1 second behind Cioni. Together with Antton and Koldo, Markel Irizar and Jorge Azanza also came in with the main peloton, consisting of 38 riders. Unai Etxebarria lost 15 seconds, while Andoni Aranaga lost 10 and Beñat Albizuri lost 1:13. Euskaltel still lead the team`s classification, while Antton wears the Metas Volantes jersey as he leads that competition.

Iban impressing

Iban continues to impress at the Vuelta a Andalucia. Today, on the flat 170 kilometres long stage from La Guardia de Jaén to Jaén, Iban placed 27th. Only 38 riders came in with the main peloton, and Iban`s consisting riding means he now lies 16th overall, only five seconds behind leader Dario David Cioni. Iban even tried to escape with two kms to go, bu was caught inside the final km. His early-season form bodes well for the remainder of the season, as Iban seems to be miles ahead of other big-name riders competing in Andalucia, like Cadel Evans and Damiano Cunego.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Iban still riding strong

Iban continues to impress in the Vuelta a Andalucia. Today, on a flat sprinter`s stage, Iban placed 15th, only 4 seconds behind victor Freire. Iban is now ranked 13th overall, at five seconds, going into the third stage.

Euskaltel leading the team`s classification

Euskaltel today became the leader of the team`s classification in the Vuelta a Andalucia. The second stage, between Vegas del Genil and Cazorla, didn`t bring Euskaltel any noteworthy placings, but the consistency took them to the top of the team`s classification. Koldo Fernandez, pictured above, joined a group trying to break away from the peloton, but the break didn`t succeed. Instead, Jesús Rosendo escaped alone. Though, he was brougth back by the peloton, lead home by Oscar Freire. Antton Luengo placed 21st, Koldo 26th, Unai Etxebarria 28th, Markel Irizar 33rd; all 4 seconds adrift. Jorge Azanza came in 35th, 13 seconds adrift. Andoni Aranaga came in 22 seconds back, while Beñat Albizuri came home 1:23 back. The solid racing means Antton is now ranked 5th overall, a mere second behing leader Cioni. Koldo is 14th, Unai is 17th and Markel is 25 at 5 seconds, while Jorge is ranked 34th at 14 seconds. Antton still leads the Metas Volantes competition.

Euskaltel riders on the velodrome

In another bid to improve the Euskaltel rider`s TT capabilities, Euskaltel will now send riders to do tests at the velódromo de Anoeta in San Sebastian, reports A pair of riders will do various tests on the bike the same day. Aitor Hernandez and Haimar Zubeldia are the first two, as they`re scheduled to do tests in the velodrome on Tuesday. Later, most of the other riders will also hone their TT form in San Sebastian, under the guidance of Euskaltel Euskadi technical director Igor Galdeano, physician Josu Larrazabal and biomechanic Juan Garcia Lopez.

Astarloza interviews

In today`s edition of the Basque newspaper DEIA, you can read an interview with Mikel Astarloza. Here he talks of the differences between Ag2r and Euskaltel, his pre-season, the Seis Horas de Euskadi, Unai`s victory etc. Click and read: You can also read an interview with him in today`s Diario Vasco, where he talks about mainly the same things as mentioned above. Read:

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Antton`s reactions to the first stage

Antton Luengo came in second on today`s first stage of the Vuelta a Andalucia. After the stage he said: "I always hoped to win; that would have been amazing. I`m pleased with my ride today, though to win would have been the best. Cioni attacked 300 metres from the line. I was on his wheel, but, to be honest, I didn`t have the forces to overcome him. I was hoping that he would burst, but he didn`t. I didn`t feel very well the last kms, as the effort and the wind took it`s toll on me. The second I lost also annoyed me, as a race like this could easily be won or lost on such a margin. Though, we (Euskaltel) are well classified, so we will give it our all".

Odriozola pleased with squad

Euskaltel team director at the Vuelta a Andalucia, Jon Odriozola, talked about the quality of the Euskaltel team after today`s stage. Antton Luengo`s second place capped of a brilliant day`s work from the whole team. "I`m very pleased with the whole team. The truth is, I run out of superlatives for the riders. Just as we did in Mallorca, we`re present in every break. We`re very active and present in every race we do. We`re a young team, but their improvement is marvellous. They`ve done everything we talked about on beforehand, so I congratulate them with their work". Of Antton, he said: "Antton has been very brave and very good. He initiated the move, but sadly, as the peloton was coming closer and closer, there were no time for tactics or anything like that. Cioni was slightly superior. His quality and experience made him a difficult rival. Though, it gives a little pain to me that he didn`t win. This race can be won on placings and small margins, but we`re still very well placed with all of our riders." Koldo Fernandez came in sixth in the main peloton, proving that he`s becoming a rider to count on for bunch-sprints. "He`s become remarkably consistent in the sprints", Odriozola said, "it`s important that he takes advantage of all opportunities. Except for Unai Etxebarria, this is a very young team, and they`re already challenging star riders like Cunego and Freire".

Iban with a strong start

Iban got off to a surprisingly good start in the Vuelta a Andalucia today. Iban came in as number 18, five seconds adrift of winner Cioni. This result bodes well for the rest of the race, as numerous other big-name riders came in further back. Damiano Cunego came in 23 seconds back, Leif Hoste 29, team-mate Riccardo Ricco, David Herrero and Flecha 42 seconds back, Cadel Evans 58, and Robbie McEwen 1:42 adrift. Iban was quite good in Mallorca as well, so he looks to be in quite good shape already.

Antton Luengo claims second in Andalucia

I told you he was good, and today he proved it. Antton Luengo took a brilliant second place on the first stage of the Vuelta a Andalucia-Ruta del Sol. Together with Dario David Cioni, Antton escaped early on, and the due built a handsome lead. At one point, their advantage was over 10 minutes, and even though the sprinter`s teams eventually reacted, they held on until the end by a mere 5 seconds. Antton is probably disappointed with a second place after coming so close to his first pro win, but a second is magnificent. Euskaltel have really got off to a good start this year, and the rest of the squad were high up the rankings today as well. Koldo once again showed his strenght by taking 8th, while Unai Etxebarria came in 11th, Markel Irizar 22nd, Beñat Albizuri 25th, Jorge Azanza 31st, and Andoni Aranaga 55th, all just five seconds adrift of leader Cioni. Euskaltel also was second on the team rankings today, after everyone raced strongly. Antton is also the leader of the Metas Volantes classification, after picking up 9 out of 9 points today. He`s second in the points competition, and second in the combined classification. What a day for Euskaltel.....

Astarloza third in Seis Horas de Euskadi

Mikel Astarloza seems to be in good form already this season. The talented 27-year-old competed in the Seis Horas de Euskadi, a six-hour race on the track, together with Joan Llaneras. The two of them landed a brilliant third place at the end of the six days, behind winner pair Risi-Marvulli and second placed pair Curuchet-Pérez.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Expectations of Iban: Vuelta a Andalucia

Iban will take to the start on Sunday in the Vuelta a Andalucia. Though, as the race is mainly known as a sprinter`s heaven, I don`t expect too much from Iban.

Stage 1: Completely flat, so a bunch-sprint is inevitable. Therefore, Iban will finish in the main peloton, probably a bit in the back. Stage 2: A little more hilly, though, another sprint-finish is on the cards. Mid-pack finish from Iban. Stage 3: Similar to stage 2. A couple of small climbs early on, but the sprinters will once again prevail. Stage 4: Another sprint if the course profile is anything to go by. Stage 5: The only stage I reckon it`s avoidable with a sprint finish. Two small climbs close to the finish will make it possible for classic specialists and puncheurs to get away. Though, don`t think Iban will be on the offensive, so mid-pack on this stage as well.

Overall: As this edition of the Ruta del Sol is all flat, I expect Iban to finish way back on the overall standings. Probably around 80th.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Etxebarria interview

Yesterday`s Trofeo Calvia victor, Unai Etxebarria, talked to the El Correo newspaper after the win. He talked about the win, the spirit in the team, his ex-team mates, the Operacion Puerto and a lot more. Read:

Madariaga: Now I have the team I always wanted

Miguel Madariaga spoke highly of his team in a small interview with Basque daily El Correo. "Now, finally, I have the team I always wanted", he said. "We`ve been present in every breakaway. We`ve done what our sponsors requested of us; we`ve shown attitude and union". Perhaps Euskaltel will have a better season than I thought....

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Iban heading strong Saunier line-up

Iban will start Sunday`s five-stage Vuelta a Andalucia heading a very strong-looking Saunier Duval. Along with Iban, Gilberto Simoni, Ricardo Ricco, Koldo Gil, José Alberto Benitez, Guido Trentin and Javier Megias will start. Iban will ride with number 121 on the back, something that indicates that Iban will be Saunier`s main man.

Euskaltel for Vuelta a Andalucia

The Euskaltel team for the Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta Ciclista del Sol looks very strong on paper. Many of the riders that competed in the Vuelta a Mallorca will do the five-stage tour starting on Sunday. Euskaltel will look to an on-fire Koldo Fernandez in the sprints, while Antton Luengo, Unai Etxebarria, Beñat Albizuri, Andoni Aranaga, Jorge Azanza and Aketza Peña will look for stages wins from breakaways and on lumpy terrain. Many of the riders participating should also be able to get high up on GC. Looking forward to it...

Picture of the day

Unai pleased with win

Unai Etxebarria said that his win in the Trofeo Calvia is "a big moral reinforcement". He pointed out the brilliant work done by the whole team the last five days, and said that a win so early in the season "gives us calm and confidence". Odriozola had said to Unai and Koldo Fernandez beforehand that they were the captains of the day, with Unai getting a free role to attack while the rest of the team would take care of Koldo in a mass sprint. "When I saw Koldo well positioned, I decided to attack. Rabobank chased hard, but I hang on and was able to enjoy the win. I won the same race three years ago, and this win was especially important for the team", he said.

Odriozola: I`m very satisfied

After directing the Euskaltel team for the first time in the Vuelta a Mallorca, Jon Odriozola has expressed himself "very satisfied" with the team. He described Unai Etxebarria`s win as a "win for the whole team", and "really deserved after all the hard work". He pointed out that Euskaltel have been present in every breakaway, and that some of the rider`s form will get even better in the near future, pointing out Antton Luengo. Odriozola said Antton will be even better in the Ruta del Sol which starts on Sunday. He also had special praise for Iban Mayos, Alan Perez, Beñat Albizuri, Koldo Fernandez and of course Unai Etxebarria. "To begin the season with a win is very important", he said.

Brilliant Etxebarria gives Euskaltel first win

Unai Etxebarria, the veteran of the squad, today claimed the fifth stage of the Vuelta a Mallorca, the Trofeo Calvia. As a result, Euskaltel got their first win of the season, and has gotten of to a great start.

The concluding stage of the five-stage race included, of course, an Euskaltel rider in the main break of the day. Beñat Albizuri broke clear after only three kms, along with Bernhard Eisel and Angel Vallejo. Though the break didn`t go all the way, Beñat racked up point after point in the mountains classification and the metas volantes sprints. Beñat won enough points to come second in the overall mountains classification. After his break was caught, Antton Luengo tried to escape, but only managed so temporarily. After reaching a 20 second lead, he was reeled in, only for Unai to go clear with 1,5 kms to go. Unai, extraordinarily, managed to keep of the chasing Caisse d`Epargne and Rabobank teams to give Euskaltel it`s first win of the season. Just to crown an already perfect day for Euskaltel, Koldo Fernandez came in sixth, once again proving his qualities in mass-sprints. Antton Luengo ended up as best placed Euskaltel rider on the GC, securing a 17th spot.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Iban to ride Ruta del Sol

According t several news agencies the last couple of days, Iban will ride the Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta Ciclista del Sol. The stage race starts on Sunday the 18th, and will end on Thursday the 22nd.

Euskaltel again protagonists

Iban Mayoz and Alan Perez both impressed greatly today, as they were both part of the stage`s main breakaway. Though, sadly, the break was neutralized. After that, a small group, including winner Colom, got away. Aitor Hernandez tried to follow them, but in the end had to throw in the towel. Nonetheless, Aitor, Jorge Azanza, Beñat Albizuri and Antton Luengo came in with the main chaising group, 1:13 behind the winner. Beñat was the highest placed Euskaltel rider, coming home in 19th place. Iban Mayoz and Markel Irizar both came in 5:47 adrift, while Aketza Peña was 6:51 behind, and Joseba Zubeldia and Alan Perez 10:09. Antton is the highest placed Euskaltel rider on the GC, lying 17th.

Iban riding strongly

Iban completed today`s fourth stage of the Vuelta a Mallorca, the Trofeo Sóller. Iban impressed, considering it`s his first race of the season, and came in with the main chaising group, only 1:13 adrift of today`s winner, Toni Colom. Iban will not ride tomorrow`s stage.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Iban to ride Trofeo Soller

Iban will, according to, ride tomorrow`s Trofeo Soller. The Saunier team will consist of Iban, Alberto Fernández de la Puebla, David Millar, Jesús del Nero, David de la Fuente, Juanjo Cobo, Litu Gómez, Iker Camaño, Rubens Bertogliati, and Remmert Wielinga. Though, as he said in an interview recently, don`t expect much of him. He`s only at Mallorca to get used to the tempo of the peloton, not to add to his palmarès.

No Iban, but Antton Luengo proves himself

Iban didn`t, susprisingly, participate in today`s Trofeo Pollenca, the third day of the Vuelta a Mallorca. Though, Antton Luengo did, and impressed. Antton came home in 17th place, a mere 16 seconds behind Thomas Dekker`s winning time. Jorge Azanza also rode well today, coming in in 31st place, only 54 seconds off the pace. The rest of the Euskaltel riders didn`t record any extraordinary results as they came in with the latter pieces of the peloton. Though, Andoni Aranaga had a good day, as he was a part of today`s main breakaway. With Koldo`s fourth place on the opening day, Iban Mayoz`s and Andoni Aranaga`s breakaways and Antton`s showing today, Euskaltel are definetely leaving their mark on the race.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Sorry, my mistake....

When I wrote the post about today`s race, I was mistaken. I said that the wind split the peloton, and that the Euskaltel guys ended up in the wrong part. Well, that`s just partly right. The wind did split the peloton, but Euskaltel didn`t end up in the wrong part. The thing is that Koldo Fernandez, fourth yesterday and Euskaltel`s big hope today, punctured 30 kms from the line when in the front part of the peloton. As Koldo was "captain" for the day, every team-mate, except from Beñat Albizuri, stopped to wait for him. The team hoped to be able to bring him back to the front, but due to the strong wind and the high speed of the peloton, this wasn`t possible. Therefore they ended up far behind the leaders. That`s just bad luck, isn`t it?

Bad day for Euskaltel in Mallorca

Euskaltel didn`t have the best of days in Mallorca today. After strong wind split the peloton in two midway through the stage, all but Beñat Albizuri ended up in part 2, and therefore lost a lot of time. Though, it wasn`t all bad from Euskaltel, as Iban Mayoz was a part of the day`s breakaway, together with Reus and Tendero. Mayoz had an outstanding day, as the break had a lead at one point of 15 minutes. He also conquered the two Metas Volantes sprints, but in the end ended up far back as the break was catched. As I said, Beñat Albizuri came in in 29th place, on the same time as winner Vicente Reynes. Antton Luengo, Andoni Aranaga, Koldo Fernandez and Alan Perez came in 2:48 behind the main peloton, while Iban Iriondo, Unai Uribarri and Iban Mayoz came in 6:07 behind. Further back, Lander Aperribay and Joseba Zubeldia came in at 7:45.
Iban enjoyed an easy and comfortable day in the saddle. Iban came in side-by-side with Iker Camaño in the peloton. His first race in a Saunier Duval jersey wasn`t the biggest test. But, tomorrow, it`ll be harder...

Iban to ride Trofeo Cala Millor-Cala Bona today

Iban will make his Saunier Duval debut today, in the Trofeo Millor-Cala Bona. The second stage of the Vuelta a Mallorca is a mainly flat 159 km treck, including two cat. 4 climbs. Fran Ventoso, Jesús del Nero, Iker Camaño, Juanjo Cobo, Ángle "Litu" Gómez, Remmert Wielinga, Alberto Fernández de la Puebla, Raúl Alarcón, and David de la Fuente will join Iban in the race today.

VeloNews talks with Iban

In an interview with VeloNews, Iban talks of his expectations for the coming season, his palmarès, his change of teams and a lot more. Click and read:

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Fernandez takes 4th in Trofeo Mallorca

Koldo Fernandez ensured Euskaltel enjoyed a brilliant start to the season in today`s Trofeo Mallorca. Koldo took 4th place in the eventual bunch-sprint, behind Oscar Freire, José Joaquin Rojas and Guennadi Mikhailov. Koldo further enhanced his reputation as a world-class sprinter, by beating the likes of Zabel, Eisel, Ventoso, Forster, Reynes and Boonen. The rest of the Euskaltel squad finished safe inside the pelotón.

No Iban for Trofeo Mallorca

Iban will not be at the start in today`s Trofeo Mallorca, the first of five one-day races on the Balearic Islands. Though, former Euskaltel rider Iker Camaño will.

Euskaltel for Trofeo Mallorca

The Trofeo Mallorca, the first of five one-day races that makes the Vuelta a Mallorca, will go ahead today with the following Euskaltel riders: 161 Unai Etxebarria, 162 Beñat Albizuri, 163 Andoni Aranaga, 164 Jorge Azanza, 165 Koldo Fernandez, 166 Aitor Hernandez, 168 Anton Luengo, 171 Alan Perez, 173 Joseba Zubeldia, 174 Markel Irizar. As the stage is a 100 km pancake-flat ride, it will probably come down to a mass-sprint at the finish. Koldo Fernandez and Andoni Aranaga will probably be the Euskaltel riders to watch out for if this happens.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Euskaltel stronger than last year

The poll "Euskaltel 2007; better or worse than 2006", resulted in some interesting results. The majority, 44 %, voted "Better", while the rest of the votes were equally divided for "The same" and "Worse". With Iban, Herrero, Lopez Garcia, Camaño and Laiseka, among others, not staying, I think the Euskaltel roster is weakened. Though, the arrivals, nine in total, seem to have convinced You that this year`s roster is stronger than last year`s. With the season-start right around the corner, we`ll see who`s right....

Friday, February 09, 2007

Expectations of Iban: Vuelta a Mallorca

This will be a regular feature on Iban Mayo Blog: ahead of every race Iban takes part in, I`ll write down my expectations for Iban`s performances and post them on the blog. This feature starts now with the Vuelta a Mallorca starting on Sunday.

As the Vuelta a Mallorca will be Iban`s first showing this season, I`m not expecting a whole lot from him. Iban has said that he`ll use these early-season races to fine-tune his form for later objectives. Though, with a rider like Iban, you never know what you`re going to get. I don`t know if Iban will ride all five races, but I presume he will. Stages 1 and 2: The first two days are both flat. Thus, I`m not ecpecting Iban to record any results, but I do think, and sincerely hope, he`ll come in with the peloton. Stage 3: The third day, the Trofeo Pollença, looks better. With three categorised climbs, two of the second category and one of the first, Iban should, when in form, be among the front-runners. But, as usual with Iban in early February, I don`t think he will. If he really goes for it, Iban may well win this stage. But I think Iban will take it easy, adjusting to the tempo of the peloton, and arrive mid-pack. Let`s say I think Iban will come in around number 40 or so. Stage 4: The fourth day, the Trofeo Sóller, indeed looks suited to Iban`s capabilities. But, as with stage number three, I don`t expect him to fight it out for the win. Remember, Iban isn`t here to win, he`s here to get racing kilometres into his legs. But, I have to admit I have a hope of Iban pulling of a win on either of the two stages. Stage 5: The fifth stage is per definition hilly, and Iban may well get in the mix, though he may not at all as well. Mid-pack finish from Iban on this stage.
Overall: Iban will finish in around 50th on the overall, presuming he completes every stage.

Haimar Zubeldia

  • Full name: Haimar Zubeldia Agirre
  • Date of birth: 01.04.1997
  • Place of birth: Usurbil, Gipuzkoa
  • Turned prefessional: 1998
  • Joined Euskaltel: 1998
  • Previous teams: none
  • Palmarès: 1st place: The Young Rider Competition in the Dauphiné Liberé 2002, Stage 4 in Euskal Bizikleta 2000, overall Euskal Bizikleta 2000. 2nd place: Stage 15 in the Tour de France 2007, Stage 5 in Euskal Bizikleta 2003, Stage 2 in Vuelta a Murcia 2003, Stage 11 in Vuelta a España 2002, Stage 3 in the Dauphiné Libéré (ITT) 2000, overall Dauphiné Libéré 2000. 3rd place: overall Vuelta a Mallorca - Challenge Illes Balears 2008, Vuelta Asturias 2004, Subida Urkiola 2003, Vuelta a Murcia 2003, The Prologue in Tour de France 2003, Stage 13 in Tour de France 2003, Stage 4b in Euskal Bizikleta 2003, Stage 5 in Vuelta a España 2002, Stage 3 in Dauphine Libere 2002, Trofeo Luis Ocana 2000, Stage 5 in Euskal Bizikleta 2000. 5th place: Tour de France overall 2003 and 2007. 8th place: Tour de France overall 2006.

Gorka Verdugo

  • Full name: Gorka Verdugo Markotegi
  • Date of birth: 04.11.1978
  • Place of birth: Etxarri Aranatz, Navarra
  • Turned professional: 2004
  • Joined Euskaltel: 2004
  • Previous teams: none
  • Palmarès: 3rd: Giro del Piemonte 2012. 5th place: overall Vuelta Ciclista a la Comunidad Valenciana 2008. 7th place: overall Paris-Nice 2008.

Euskaltel for Memorial Jon Aizpuru

Euskaltel will take part in the 8th Memorial Jon Aizpuru this coming Sunday. The race is held in the honour of Aizpuru, a great promoter of Álava cycling, and Basque cycling in general. The organizers hope to count more than 500 riders, among them will be Euskaltel pros Gorka Verdugo, Iñaki Isasi, Iban Velasco and Rubén Perez.

Aketza Peña

  • Full name: Aketza Peña Iza
  • Date of birth: 04.03.1981
  • Place of birth: Zalla, Bizkaia
  • Turned professional: 2004
  • Joined Euskaltel: 2004
  • Previous teams: none
  • Pamlarès: 2nd place: Stage 5 in Vuelta a Castilla y León 2006, Stage 2 in Euskal Bizikleta 2005. 3rd place: overall Euskal Bizikleta 2005.


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