Thursday, March 29, 2007

Going away for vacation

Once again I`m going for a vacation. This time I`ll be away until next Thursday, so, I`m really sorry, but the blog won`t be updated until the first-coming Thursday. So, all that`s left is to wish you all a happy Easter. Enjoy the vacation:)

Antón 5th today, 4th overall

Igor Antón is really approaching top form. Today he took 5th at the top of the Alto de Nevacerrada, and now lies 4th overall going into the last and hilly stage of the Vuelta a Castilla y León. Alan Pérez once again impressed, as he was a part of a break that went after only 10 km. Alan showed his good form, attacking the break right before the last ascent. Alan opened up a small gap, but it was to no use, as the pace set in the bunch by Discovery Channel was far too high for the break to succeed. As the break was reeled in, the attacking started. Igor was on the offensive several times, but when Alberto Contador and Koldo Gil left, he tried, but couldn`t keep up. Though, Igor came in an impressive 5th, only 28 seconds back. Igor now lies 4th overall. Here`s how the Euskaltel riders placed today:

  • 5th, Igor Antón, 0:28
  • 30th, Iñigo Landaluze, 2:30
  • 58th, Amets Txurruka, 3:42
  • 93rd, Haimar Zubeldia, 5:00
  • 108th, Alan Pérez, 9:12
  • 116th, Andoni Aranaga, 11:02
  • 118th, Aitor Galdos, 11:43
  • 120th, Andoni Lafuente, 11:43


  • 4th, Igor Antón, 0:48
  • 26th, Iñigo Landaluze, 3:11
  • 76th, Haimar Zubeldia, 5:44
  • 79th, Amets Txurruka, 5:56
  • 114th, Alan Pérez, 12:53
  • 115th, Aitor Galdos, 13:04
  • 119th, Andoni Aranaga, 20:08
  • 122nd, Andoni Lafuente, 21:11

Euskaltel lie 7th in the team classification. After the stage, Alan Pérez and Igor Antón spoke to First up, Alan :"Finally we managed to join a break. The truth is that in the previous stages we guessed wrong, we always joined the soon-to-be unsuccessful breaks. We`ve tried a thousand times, but we couldn`t do it. That forced us to work at the front, and that is always hard. We (the break) knew it would be hard to make it, as today`s stage was hard and there are people here who are in very good form backed up by strong teams, as was the case with Contador and Discovery. They did not give us enough leeway, and they brought us back when they wanted. I tried to go solo on the Nevacerrada, but it didn`t work. I felt good today, but it was impossible to succeed because of the pace of the peloton". Igor had this to say :" I`m very satisfied with my ascent. When Koldo Gil and Contador left, I tried to follow, but they were way too fast for us and impossible to catch. In the end I placed 5th, but the most important thing for me is that I`ve been at the front and felt well. Tomorrow is a complicated stage, with two hard ascents, and you never know what can happen".

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Igor Antón showing good form

Igor Antón is showing his form is coming along nicely at the Vuelta a Castilla y León. Today he placed 16th, and now lies 13th overall. Today`s stage was mainly flat, but the peloton split up in several pieces nonetheless late on. Igor Antón and Haimar Zubeldia came in with the leading group; a group consisting of 44 riders. Haimar was 30th, while the rest of the Euskaltel riders placed:
  • 57th, Iñigo Landaluze, 0:14
  • 92nd, Aitor Galdos, 0:14
  • 107th, Amets Txurruka, 1:06
  • 119th, Alan Pérez, 2:32
  • 120th, Andoni Aranaga, 2:32
  • 121st, Andoni Lafuente, 2:32

Six of Euskaltel`s 8 riders finished outside the leading group, mainly due to fatigue as the whole Euskaltel team had to lead the peloton for much of the day in pursuit of the breakaway-trio. The team did an amazing job bringing back the leaders. Looking forward to tomorrow`s race-deciding stage to the Alto de Nevacerrada, Euskaltel will pin their hopes mainly on Igor, and, if feeling well, Haimar. Igor spoke to about tomorrow`s stage: "Contador is in very good form; his win in Paris-Nice shows that. Karpets is also going strong, like Sevilla. And you can never exclude Basso and Sastre... I`ll try to be with the best, to see what my form is like. I`m still not in top form, but I`m getting closer and summit-finishes are my thing".

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Galdos 5th; Antón 10th

Euskaltel placed two riders in the top-10 of today`s second stage of the Vuelta a Castilla y León. Aitor Galdos took 5th, while Igor Antón grabbed a surprising 10th. An eight-man break got away, but were never close to succeeding, as the peloton, led by Caisse d`Epargne, Euskaltel and Benfica, never let the break`s advantage get over 3 minutes. The break was reeled in with 15 km to go, and a bunch-sprint was inevitable. Euskaltel had their hopes pinned on Aitor, who was one of the favourites today. Aitor only partly delivered, grabbing 5th. Igor got 10th, while the rest of the Euskaltel guys, with the exception of Andoni Aranaga and Andoni Lafuente, came in with the peloton. The two Andonis came in 6:06 adrift, as a result of their hard work at the front of the pack earlier. Though a 5th place isn`t bad, Aitor was far from pleased with his result today. This is what he said to straight after the finish: "I`m not content with my sprint today. I thought that I had better legs, but I wasn`t able to fight for the win. When I started, Ventoso and Benitez flew by me. Let`s hope I`m better tomorrow, as I`ve been close and my form is coming along".

Monday, March 26, 2007

Antón best Euskaltel rider in ITT

The opening stage of the 2007 edition of the five-day Vuelta a Castilla y León got under way today. On the menu was a 10 km long ITT in and around Zamora. Igor Antón showed his TT-skills are improving race by race, and was the best placed Euskaltel rider today. He came in 21st, only 26 seconds adrift of winner Vladimir Karpets. Iñigo Landaluze was 28th, 33 seconds adrift, Andoni Aranaga 32nd, 34 seconds behind, Haimar Zubeldia 56th, 50 seconds adrift, Andoni Lafuente 66th, 56 seconds back. Aitor Galdos was 1:13 behind, while Amets Txurruka and Alan Pérez were 1:14 and 1:15 behind respectively. Afterwards, Igor spoke to Euskaltel`s homepage, and had this to say: " The result was better than I hoped. Though my finish wasn`t very good, I`ve done a good TT, and that gives me confidence for the following days. The fourth stage, which ends on the Alto de Nevacerrada, will be a desicive stage. There are plenty of good riders here, like Sastre and Basso, in addition to Karpets, who`s already shown what state of form he`s in. To see how that stage goes will be interesting, as that will show how my form is coming along."

Looking ahead to tomorrow, a sprint will likely be the result as the day is mainly flat. Aitor Galdos will be Euskaltel`s man if a sprint is set-up, and he`s one of the favourites for sure. Aitor spoke to today about tomorrow`s stage: "In Santarém I was in the front, though the truth is that I`m way off my best form. The fall (he fell heavily in the recent Vuelta a Murcia) still causes pain to my back, something that`s prevented me from training well these last weeks. Anyway, I`m feeling better, and tomorrow can be a good day to measure my form and to see what I`m capable of in this race".

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Euskaltel for Critérium International

Euskaltel will line-up with the following eight riders in the three-day Critérium International, starting on March the 31st: Beñat Albizuri, Jorge Azanza, Aitor Hernández, Iban Iriondo, Markel Irizar, Antton Luengo, Iban Mayoz and Joseba Zubeldia.

Euskaltel for Vuelta a Castilla y León

Euskaltel will send a powerful-looking 8-man team for the five-day Vuelta a Castilla y León, starting on Monday. The team will be directed by Xabier Carbayeda, and will include the following riders: Haimar Zubeldia, Igor Antón, Iñigo Landaluze, Alan Pérez, Amets Txurruka, Aitor Galdos and Andoni Lafuente. The race opens with a 10-km ITT. The second stage is completely flat, while the third is rather hilly. The fourth stage is the queen-stage of the race, with the summit at the Alto de Navacerrada. The last stage is also quite hilly.

Aitor Hernández and Koldo comment on Sanremo

After yesterday`s Milano-Sanremo, Koldo Fernández and Aitor Hernández spoke to Here`s what Aitor had to say: "I`m satisfied with my ride today. We had to try to join the breaks, as in such long classics there`s always one break that stays in the front for many, many km. Last year Unai Etxebarria broke away, and this year it was me. I think that for the team, in such important and prestigious races, that it`s important to be seen. I`ve had good sensations. Me and five others escaped after 90 km, and we lost riders until there were only three of us left; me, Brutt and Kunitsky. We gave it our all, but we had a difficult task ahead of us. This classic has enormous prestige, and the victory is therefore very difficult to obtain. We knew they were going to catch us, but I tried to stay away for as long as possible and attacked." Koldo had this to say:" This was my first Milano-Sanremo, and it was an intense one. The team did phenomenal work for me, and I arrived with the first group, though I didn`t have enough strenght left to be able to fight for the win. The number of km, the speed, the`s one of the biggest classics, and I didn`t finish badly on my debut. I got a lot of experience, something that`s really important for the next Milan-Sanremo`s. I watched from behind Freire`s win. When he feels good, he`s almost unbeatable in these kind of races. He won it easily. He is a super-class rider, and he showed it. Jon Odriozola told me to follow his wheel, but it`s not an easy task to hold the wheel of a three-time world champion. I leave Sanremo pleased with my experience. The only thing I know is that I must continue working hard to improve."

Sanremo sum-up

So, Milano-Sanremo didn`t go as well as I had thought it would. Koldo couldn`t mix it with the top sprinters, although he did a good race. Aitor was brilliant in the escape; he`s just impressive isn`t he? And with the falls and subsequent abandonments of experienced road-captains Jon Bru and Unai Etxebarria, Euskaltel were left a bit short on experience. Though, Euskaltel did reasonably well. Here`s what sports director in Italy, Jon Odriozola, had to say: "The truth is that I`m very satisfied with the team. We`ve done a great job, and we`ve been brave. Aitor Hernández spent more than 180 km ahead, and demonstarted his pride by attacking on the Cipressa before being reeled in. That says a lot about his character. He`s very ambitious, and when he accumulates some more experience, he`ll be a rider to count on. Aitor`s escape gave us exposure, and that was important for the rest of the riders and the team." On the race outcome, he said: "The race has been affected by the weather. The rain caused a lot of falls, and resulted in a lot of tension and pressure as everyone wanted to stay in the front to avoid them. In this aspect we were unlucky. Unai Etxebarria, our captain, fell a couple of times at the wrong moments. Unai is a great rider. He knows these races, and was important to us as we were not very experienced today. Jon Bru also hit the deck... In important moments we didn`t have a lot of luck. We lacked some experience today, but we`re learning." On Koldo he said: "Koldo did a good race. We tried to protect him a lot. With Aitor in the escape, we could take even better care of Koldo, as we had presence in the front. The Cipressa went well for him, but he wasn`t able to cross the Poggio among the front-runners, and therefore couldn`t contest the sprint. He came in with the first group, but without chances of winning. I told him all the time to follow Freire`s wheel, but that`s not an easy task when you haven`t got the force to do it. Freire is top-notch, and when he`s in such form, no-one was going to stop him. Ultimately, I look to Koldo`s win in Tirreno, where he confirmed he`s a rider capable of beating the very best. And the experience accumulated here today will be important for him in the next editions. Don`t forget he`s still only 25, and with a good margin of improvement."

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano interview

In today`s edition of Gara, the Spanish newspaper, you can read an interview with Euskaltel head Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano. This is, as a matter of fact, a very interesting read, as he evaluates the season so far, the positives and the negatives and the upcoming races. Definetely worth a read:

Friday, March 23, 2007

Back on Sunday

I`m going for a short trip to see my grand-mother tomorrow, and will be back on Sunday evening. That means that there won`t be any updates until then, but be sure I`ll bring you all the latest from Koldo`s win in Sanremo once I`m back. Until then, take care.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Another Koldo interview

After his win in the Tirreno-Adriatico on Tuesday, Koldo Fernández has become a much sought-after interview object. In today`s Diario Vasco you can read an interview with Koldo, where he mainly talks about that maiden win, his future as a sprinter, earlier Basque sprinters and much more. Click and read:

Change in roster for San Remo

According to, Euskaltel`s Milano-San Remo roster is different to what I earlier posted. According to several sites, like reknown and, Samu Sánchez and Mikel Astarloza would ride the Primavera on Saturday. Though, this is not correct it seems. Euskaltel`s homepage says that instead of Samu and Mikel, Antton Luengo and Iban Mayoz will ride. The full roster is then: Unai Etxebarria, Beñat Albizuri, Aitor Hernández, Aketza Peña, Jon Bru, Antton Luengo, Koldo Fernandez and Iban Mayoz. As Samu won`t ride, Euskaltel will put all their hopes on Koldo for the sprint.

Ivan Velasco back in a month

Ivan Velasco, who fell badly and injured his shoulder in the Paris-Nice, is expected to be back in competition in roughly a month, reports Iñaki Isasi, who broke his collarbone in the Vuelta Ciclista a Murcia, is back training on the roller. Though, at what time the sprinter will be back racing is still unsure.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Strong Euskaltel team for San Remo

Euskaltel will send a strong eight-man team for Saturday`s La Classicissima, the Milano-Sanremo. The team should, at least that`s my view on it, be able to fight for the win. If it comes down to a bunch-sprint, which is probable, Euskaltel will place their faith in Tirreno stage 7 winner Koldo Fernández. Koldo seems to be in awesome form at the moment, so he`s certainly one of the dark-horses for the win on Saturday. The remaining seven riders will also have their chance to shine. Samu Sánchez, Jon Bru, Mikel Astarloza, Beñat Albizuri, Aitor Hernández, Aketza Peña and Unai Etxebarria will probably be in breaks all day long. I can imagine Aitor, Aketza, Beñat and Jon to try to join a break that gets away early, while Samu, Mikel and Unai probably will play their cards in the finale. All riders look strong at the moment, so watch out for Euskaltel on Saturday.

Koldo to ride San Remo, Vlaanderen, Roubaix and Giro

In an interview with DEIA, see previous post, Koldo revealed some of his main goals for the season. First up on his calendar is the Milano-San Remo one-day race on Saturday. After that he`ll do the Ronde van Vlaanderen, Paris-Roubaix and then his main goal for the season, the Giro d`Italia. Koldo says he hopes to win a stage in the Italian three-week tour.

Koldo interview

In today`s edition of Spanish newspaper DEIA, you could read an interview with Koldo Fernández. Koldo talks of his maiden win, his next objectives etc. Click and read:

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Poll results: Iban in Paris-Nice

Releasing the results of the poll "Iban in Paris-Nice" will probably not be interesting for any of you as the race is already over. But I`ll do it anyway. There were four options in total. The majority, 52 %, voted "Mid pack, top 50 GC". 30 % said Iban would be "Top-10/Stage winner", while 15 % thought Iban would be "not even close". The remaining 4 % voted for Iban as "Winner on GC". I`m sorry for my delay, I`ll try to be quicker next time round...

Euskaltel placings in Tirreno-Adriatico

The Tirreno-Adriatico stage-race finished today with a bang for Euskaltel. Koldo Fernández took the last stage, and with it, Euskaltel`s first Pro Tour win of the season. Though, the seven finishing Euskaltel riders didn`t place that highly on the final GC. Antton Luengo was in the end the best placed one, finishing a distant 44th. In full, here`s how the Euskaltel riders finished the Tirreno-Adriatico overall:
  • 44th, Antton Luengo, 9:03
  • 57th, Beñat Albizuri, 12:20
  • 80th, Unai Etxebarria, 17:55
  • 84th, Koldo Fernandez, 19:45
  • 90th, Aketza Peña, 23:45
  • 98th, Aitor Hernández, 24:54
  • 104th, Iban Mayoz, 26:51

On the team rankings Euskaltel finished a lowly 18th.

Koldo speaks of THAT win

After today`s win in the Tirreno-Adriatico, Koldo spoke to Here`s what he had to say about his first ever win: "The first thing I want to do is to dedicate this triumph to my mother. She`s been suffering from a very serious illness, but now she`s past it and doing fine. It was an impressive win, a win I`m very content with. It`s my first win as a pro, and I`ve taken it in such a prestigious race as Tirreno-Adriatico with so many strong rivals. The arrival was very nervous, and the last part was at a very high speed. The team showed it`s trust in me, something I`m very grateful for, because without the team this wouldn`t have been possible. The team supported me all day. At the end, it was Beñat Albizuri who guided me to the front. He did a phenomenal job, and I want to emphasize that. When I got to the front I followed Hushovd`s wheel. When he started, I started, and I said to myself: It`s now or never. I overtook O`Grady and Hushovd, but I didn`t dare to reach my arms in the air until I crossed the line". Further, he spoke of the expectations that was on his shoulders until today: "The truth is that this win removes some of the pressure I`ve felt. I wanted to win, in a small stage-race, a one-day race, or a Pro Tour race, it didn`t matter, I just wanted to win so that some of the expectations laid on my shoulders would ease a little. It`s awesome to win in a race such as the Tirreno-Adriatico, but any win would be good, as I started to get a little obsessed with my empty palmarès. This win has given tranquility to me. Until now I`ve had many good placings, but I always committed some errors, and that really annoyed me. I will be satisfied with second places if I gave it my all, but when you commit errors that prevents you from it, it annoys you. I was convinced that when the day come when I didn`t commit any errors, the win would arrive. And so it proved.. Since I became a pro, I`ve always had problems with injuries. Though, at the end of last season I came through them, and this season I`ve really enjoyed riding my bike. From now on I want more wins. I know I just won, but I also know that I have a lot more to do if I want to be successful. I`ll continue to work as I have to continue my progression. That`s my goal; to continue improving."

Odriozola evaluates Euskaltel after Tirreno-Adriatico conclusion

Euskaltel`s sports director at the Tirreno-Adriatico, Jon Odriozola, had this to say after the race`s conclusion to : "This is a very important victory for the team, and it`s given immense joy to all of us. The team was already doing well. Albizuri, Mayoz, Luengo and Hernández have all been very active, as they were all part of breakaways that gave us some exposure, but Koldo`s win was just so impressive. The list of sprinters here are impressive, and Koldo beat them all comfortably. He spectacularly overcame O`Grady, and showed impressive strength. Our bet was on Koldo today. In the previous stages we tried to win through breaks, but everyday we tried a bunch-sprint was set-up. From the start of the season Koldo has shown much confidence in his capabilities and felt that he could beat the best. The Vuelta a Andalucia confirmed this for him. In the last stage he came second behind Freire. Here in Italy he didn`t doubt he could pull it off. He`s been brave and he went all the way. The whole team thought he could do it, so Unai Etxebarria and Beñat Albizuri both stayed close to him in the final kms. For the team it`s a tremendously important win. It gives us confidence and a reason to continue to work hard. As a team we are working phenomenally, and the victories reinforce the desire to continue following this hard line. I think that we`re a team of fighters, and by fighting we`re getting big results like this one."

Koldo Fernández!!!

What a day for Koldo Fernández, and what a day for Euskaltel! After coming close so many times this season, Koldo took his first pro win today. And what better race to do it in than in a Pro Tour race!? Koldo beat the likes of O`Grady, Hushovd, McEwen, Napolitano, Balducci, Petacchi and Zabel in the mass-sprint to claim a highly pleasing, and, surely, deserved win. The last stage of the Tirreno-Adriatico took the riders 177 kms from Civitella del Tronto to San Benedetto del Tronto, and gave Euskaltel its first ever bunch-sprint win in a Pro Tour race. Euskaltel have not been known as a sprinter`s team, but now people might want to look out for this talented 25-year-old fast-man. Koldo`s win came after an impressive acceleration to beat O`Grady comfortably. With 600 metres remaining, Hinault, Dean and Hushovd went to the front to help Hushovd win it for Crédit Agricole. O`Grady saw the move and followed. So to did Koldo, who clung wisely onto O`Grady`s wheel. When Hushovd launched the sprint way too early, O`Grady, with Koldo on his wheel, got in front of him. But with an impressive late surge Koldo overtook him and even had time to celebrate. Koldo therefore took his first ever win. And, I can guarantee you, there are many more to follow...

Monday, March 19, 2007

Iban pleased with Paris-Nice

According to an interview with Spanish cycling site, Iban is satisfied with his first ever Paris-Nice. Despite a crash on the last stage that sent him out of the race, Iban showed good form earlier on and was 24th on GC going into that last stage, so it`s no wonder he`s pleased. In this small interview, he talks of his surprisingly good early-season form, his next appointments, the crash etc. Click and read:

Azanza`s races for the near future

According to his own homepage, this is what Jorge Azanza`s upcoming calendar looks like: First the Critérium International (31/3 - 3/4), then the PG Miguel Indurain (7/4) and then the Vuelta al Pais Vasco (9/4 - 13/4). Jorge has been in good form so far this season, so he`ll look to get some good results for sure.

Mikel Astarloza`s calendar

During an interview with French cycling site Vélo 101 some days ago, Mikel Astarloza revealed his calendar for the season. After just finishing the Paris-Nice, he`ll ride Milano-San Remo this coming Saturday, the Vuelta al Pais Vasco, Amstel Gold Race, Fleche Wallonne, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Euskal Bizicleta, Dauphiné Libére and the Tour de France. The Tour is, like every year, his main goal for the season.

Euskaltel unlucky in Tirreno

Euskaltel had another rather bad day in Tirreno-Adriatico. The day started off in the worst possible manner, with Jon Bru waking up with a fever. He tried to ride, but abandoned early on. When the break of the day went, Antton Luengo was among it. Though, by one reason or another I don`t know about, he fell back to the peloton, with the remaining riders in the break still going strong. On the uphill finish to San Giacomo, none of the Euskaltel riders got in the mix. Antton Luengo got highest on the rankings, placing 41st. Here`s how all riders ended up:

  • Antton Luengo, 41st, 3:27

  • Beñat Albizuri, 57th, 5:59

  • Iban Mayoz, 63rd, 6:37

  • Aitor Hernandez, 80th, 10:40

  • Unai Etxebarria, 112th, 14:02

  • Aketza Peña, 121st, 16:21

  • Koldo Fernandez, 131st, 16:21

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Iban not seriously injured

Luckily, Iban was not seriously injured after he crashed out of Paris-Nice today. Iban fell early on in the stage after a big pile-up and had to abandon. Though, reports that Iban did not sustain any serious injuries, but that he had to have his elbow stitched. Hopefully, and probably, this won`t keep Iban out of competition for a long period of time, he`ll probably be back on his bike in a day or two. Though, as Iban was starting to ride better and better and climbing on the overall, it was a real shame he had to leave the race. But, hey, that`s cycling rigth?

Samu 4th today; 9th overall

Euskaltel had a great day today in Paris-Nice, with Samu taking 4th on the stage and 9th overall, and with Gorka Verdugo in the break. Gorka, together with 10 others, escaped early on. Though, after some 10-15 kms in front, the break was considered too dangerous, so they were reeled in. On the last climb, Samu was brilliant. He attacked at least twice up the final 2nd category Col d`Eze, though without luck. On the descent he was fearless as always, and nearly got away. In the end Samu placed 4th on the stage, meaning a 9th overall in the season`s first Pro Tour race. This is how the rest of the Euskaltel riders placed:

  • Mikel Astarloza, 46th, 4:32
  • Markel Irizar, 50th, 4:32
  • Gorka Verdugo, 64th, 13:33
  • Rúben Perez, 71st, 13:33
  • Andoni Aranaga, 72nd, 13:33
  • Alan Perez, 81st, 17:08

On GC, the seven Euskaltel riders placed:

  • Samu Sánchez, 9th
  • Mikel Astarloza, 38th
  • Gorka Verdugo, 41st
  • Markel Irizar, 49th
  • Alan Pérez, 71st
  • Rúben Pérez, 73rd
  • Andoni Aranaga, 76th

In the team rankings, Euskaltel placed a respectable 9th.

Bad day for Euskaltel in Tirreno

Euskaltel once again showed their TT skills are not up to standards today in Tirreno-Adriatico. Unai Etxebarria was the best of the Euskaltel riders, way down in 85th, 2:59 behind. The remaining Euskaltel riders:
  • Antton Luengo, 99th, 3:17
  • Koldo Fernandez, 105th, 3:24
  • Iban Mayoz, 106th, 3:28
  • Aitor Hernanez, 108th, 3:29
  • Aketza Peña, 118th, 3:37
  • Beñat Albizuri, 140th, 4:22
  • Jon Bru, 158th, 6:26

Overall, Koldo Fernandez is the best placed Euskaltel rider on GC, lying 59th, 5:19 adrift.

Aitor Galdos 5th in Santarém

Aitor Galdos placed a moral-boosting 5th in the final day of the Portoguese stage-race Volta ao Distrito de Santarém. Euskaltel did not have anyone in the break of the day, but Aitor`s sprint at least gave Euskaltel a good result. Aitor is still suffering with back pains after crashing out of the Vuelta a Murcia earlier, but his sprint today is a good signal for upcoming races for the young fast-man. Euskaltel did anything but impress in Santarém over the four stages, with Dioni Galparsoro the best on GC with his 51st place overall. For complete results, go to:

Iban crashes out of Paris-Nice

According to live reports of the last stage of the Paris-Nice, Iban has abandoned due to a crash. This is really sad, as Iban has looked strong all week and the last stage was almost tailor-made for him with three 1st category climbs. Velonews said this about the crash: "That crash
early in the stage seems to have had more serious consequences than we thought. Race radio reports that at least eight riders in the muddle decided to bag it as the pace picked up. No one is seriously hurt, but Gerben Lowik (Rabobank), Matthew White (Discovery Channel), Gert Steegmans (Quick Step), Jurgen Van de Walle (Quick Step), Iban Mayo (Saunier Duval),Romain Feillu (Agritubel), Brett Lancaster (Milram) have all pulled out of the race." Updates on the crash and Iban`s health will be brought to you as soon as I get any info on it...

Samu 8th in Paris-Nice

Samu Sánchez once again proved he`s among the strongest in Paris-Nice when he placed 8th on today`s hilly stage. In a sprint for second place, Samu grabbed 8th, and lies 13th overall before Sunday`s last stage.

Euskaltel did a great stage today. With a six-men strong break up the road, and with all six riders sitting well placed on GC, Euskaltel took control of the peloton and started a frantic chase. Especially Markel Irizar and Andoni Aranaga were to be seen at the very front of the peloton several times, as the peloton started to take back time from the escapees. The peloton got back together before the last climb, a short 2nd category hill, where Alberto Contador, Luis León Sanchez, David Lopez Garcia and Sylvain Chavanel got away. Samu was a part of that small group for a while, but drifted back into the chasing group, where he did a lot of work to reel in the leaders. Samu`s work payd off, as the peloton brought everyone but Luis Sanchez back. In the final sprint, as I said earlier, Samu placed 7th and therefore got 8th on the stage. The rest of the Euskaltel riders came in further back, as the hard work earlier on the stage took its toll. Gorka Verdugo was 37th, 4:28 back, Mikel Astarloza 55th, 5:38 behind, Markel Irizar 112th, 15:21 behind, Rúben Perez 117th, 17:47 behind, Andoni Aranaga 118th, at the same time as Rúben, and Alan Pérez 123rd, 19:08 back. Before the last stage, Euskaltel lie 10th in the team rankings, with Samu lying 13th overall at 46 seconds, Gorka Verdugo 32nd and Mikel Astarloza 39th.

Euskaltel once again bad in Santarém

Unai Uribarri was the best of the Euskaltel riders in today`s penultimate and ITT stage in the Volte ao Distrito de Santarém. Though, that tells you more about how bad the rest of the team rode than the quality of Uribarri`s ride. Unai Uribarri came in 48th, 1:17 behind, which is a respectable placing for the young talent. Though, then rest did not deliver. Dioni Galparsoro came in 82nd, 1:53 behind, while Lander Aperribay came in one place and one second furhter down. Joseba Zubeldia was 87th, 1:57 behind, Iban Iriondo 89th, 1:58 behind, Amets Txurruka 93rd, 2:04 behind, Andoni Lafuente 106th, 2:15 behind and Aitor Galdos was 119th at 2:30 from the winner. But, with another stage left on the menu, Euskaltel can turn it around. All riders on the team are capable of winning tomorrow`s stage, so I`m positive.

Solo ride from Hernandez in Tirreno

Aitor Hernandez did a marvellous job today in Tirreno-Adriatico. The promising youngster went solo for almost 100 kms. He was eventually reeled in with 7 kms to go, but anyway, he did an amazing job. Going solo for such a long time in such a high-class field is something rare. Though, when the stage was to be decided on the last uphill stretch, Euskaltel didn`t managa to fight for the win. The best of the riders were Antton Luengo, coming in a distant and disappointing 44th, 1:01 adrift of victor Riccò. Jon Bru was 47th, 1:06 behind, Koldo Fernandez 59th, 1:19 behind, Beñat Albizuri 64th, 1:37 behind, Iban Mayoz and Unai Etxebarria were 78th and 79th respectively, both 2:02 behind. Aketza Peña was 103rd, 3:27 behind, while breakaway hero Hernandez finishe a distant 141st, 4:20 adrift.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Iban superb in Paris-Nice

Iban did a marvellous job today in Paris-Nice. The penultimate stage was a 200 km track over a very hilly course, and Iban stayed with the leading group all the way. Iban eventually placed 22nd, in the first group after Luis León Sanchez, who went solo with a couple of kms to go. His ride today was even more impressive as he was riding support for David Millar, who also came in with the first group. In the last 10 kms you could see Iban frequently on the front, leading the peloton in the chase for Alberto Contador, David Lopez Garcia, Sylvain Chavanel and Luis Sanchez. The peloton did catch up with all but Sanchez, who took an impressive win. Iban now lies 24th overall, just 1:39 behind leader Rebellin going into the last and mountainious stage around Nice. Though, as Millar is the best placed Saunier Duval rider on GC, I expect to see Iban work for him tomorrow instead of going for a stage-win. Iban is in unusually good form so early on, something that bodes well for the remainder of the season.

Ivan Velasco out of Paris-Nice

Ivan Velasco, breakaway hero from the first stage, did not take to the start today in Paris-Nice. The 27-year-old crashed badly yesterday, but was able to remount the bike and finish the stage. Though, it seems as though his injuries might have been bader than expected. More on Ivan`s health soon...

Friday, March 16, 2007

Samu 6th in Paris-Nice

Samu Sanchez is coming closer and closer to win his first race of the season. Today he finished an impressive 6th in Paris-Nice`s hilly fifth stage. Samu came in with the leading group 14 seconds behind run-away winner Yaroslav Popovych. Mikel Astarloza and Gorka Verdugo also finished inside this leading group. Markel Irizar was 54th today, 34 seconds behind, Alan Pérez was 62nd, 52 seconds back, while Rúben Pérez and Andoni Aranaga came in with the second part of the peloton, 14:13 behind. The last Euskaltel rider to cross the line, Ivan Velasco, seemed to have hurt himself badly with a nasty crash with some 40 kms remaining. Though, the brave youngster remounted, and came in 147th, 17:40 behind. Ivan escaped with multiple cuts and scrapes on the left shoulder, elbow and hip. Tomorrow wil tell us how he`s doing. The ever-agressive and impressive Rúben Pérez once again formed part of the break of the day, but as the break suddenly broke in two, Rúben found himself in the wrong part. Rúben returned to the peloton, where he stayed for the remainder of the stage. Going into the two last stages, Samu lies 10th overall, 46 seconds behind. Gorka is 34th and Mikel is 38th, something that means Euskaltel lie 10th in the team rankings.

Bru best Euskaltel rider in Tirreno-Adriatico

Today`s stage of the Tirreno-Adriatico stage-race did not produce any results to brag about for Euskaltel. Jon Bru was the best placed Euskaltel rider, coming in 39th, 29 seconds behind winner Riccò. Further on, Koldo Fernandez and Unai Etxebarria came in 36 seconds back, with Aketza Peña 1:12 behind in 70th, Beñat Albizuri and Antton Luengo finished 82nd and 83rd respectively, both 2:10 behind. Iban Mayoz and Aitor Hernandez both finished 8:13 behind, in 121st and 124th place respectively. Best Euskaltel rider on GC is also logically Bru, lying a distant 39th, 1 minute adrift of leader Arekeev.

Txurruka in the break; Galdos 10th

In the second stage of the Volta ao Distrito de Santarém today, Amets Txurruka formed part of a quartet that escaped early on. Amets took the only KOM points on offer, but sadly, the break was reeled in with less than 10 kms to go. The stage finished with a mass-sprint where Aitor Galdos couldn`t quite pull it off, finishing 10th. All Euskaltel riders finished inside the peloton. Tomorrow`s stage is a 17 km ITT, though, as Euskaltel hasn`t got any real TTers in this race, don`t expect too much.

Iban looking strong

Iban is doing well in Paris-Nice. Today, on a very hilly stage, he came in with the leading group, placing 24th on the day. As a consequence, he advanced from 30th to 28th on GC. Looks like my predictions for a top 20 overall for Iban will come true...

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Iban doing well in Paris-Nice

Iban did a good stage today in Paris-Nice. A demanding 170 km-long stage, with the end at the summit of a three km steep climb, saw Iban finish 23rd, only 56 seconds off the pace. Iban came in with a group consisting of, among others, strong-men like Luis Léon Sanchez, Patxi Vila, Joaquin Rodriguez, Alexandre Botcharov, Thomas Voeckler and Roman Kreuziger. It was impressive stuff from Iban, as he`s not supposed to be in peak form until May, and with a mission to look after David Millar as well. On GC, Iban lies 30th, 1:39 back. But with hilly and mountainious stages left, Iban might well advance on the overall standings. After the stage, Saunier Duval sports director Joxean "Matxin" Fernandez had this to say about Iban`s performance: "He did well. He had to have an eye on David (Millar) and did so. He was right where he had to be". He`s looking good...

Samu 11th in Paris-Nice

In today`s fourth and hilly stage of the Paris-Nice, Samu Sánchez placed a good 11th. The stage ended with a 3 km steep ascent, where Alberto Contador proved the strongest. Though, Samu also seemed really strong, loosing only 40 seconds. That means Samu is now ranked 10th on GC, with another three stages to go. Gorka Verdugo also impressed today, coming in 40th, only 1:33 behind. Further on, Mikel Astarloza took 54th, 2:24 behind, Rúben Perez was 62nd, 3:20 behind, Markel Irizar was 79th, 5:07 behind, and Ivan Velasco, Andoni Aranaga and Alan Pérez were 9:12 behind.

After the stage, Samu spoke to Here`s what he had to say: "I`m pleased. I`ve been well, though I needed a little extra if I were to contest the stage, but I`ve had good sensations. Alberto Contador is in marvellous form, as he already demonstrated on the Campello in Valencia. As for me, I follow the same line as last season. I`m better, and in a race of such calibre I`ve been among the strongest. The next days the goal will be to win a stage. The overall is difficult, though I won`t discard it, but the realistic thing now would be to go for a stage-win. I`m pleased with being so far ahead on GC, but it`ll be difficult to advance. The team is riding well, so we can look for wins from breaks and even from attacks at the end. It`ll be difficult to repeat last year, when I finished 4th overall, but a stage-win is more important".

Mayoz in the break in Tirreno-Adriatico

Iban Mayoz formed part of a five-man breakaway on today`s second stage of the Tirreno-Adriatico. Though, sadly, he couldn`t keep up when the break hit the first climb, and had to let go. The remaining four riders actually made it to the line ahead of the peloton, so there wasn`t any sprint for the win. Koldo Fernandez took 16th spot, while Unai Etxebarria took 19th; both in the peloton. All except for Iban Mayoz finished safe inside the pack. Iban came in 8:15 behind. Euskaltel`s sport director in Italy, Jon Odriozola, said this to after the stage: "The truth is that I`m a little sad. The beginning of the stage went perfect, but in the end, nothing came out of it. In the break we had Mayoz, and when another group went later, Antton was in it. It all looked really well. The problem was that Mayoz found it hard after joining the break, and in the end he couldn`t keep up. He got dropped on the climb with 50 kms to go. The Russian (Arekeev) rode really well, and it`s a pain that when the break survived we had no one in it." On the coming stages, he said: "It`s necessary that we continue to try. Yesterday is was Beñat, today it was Iban.... Though, all the effort is valued. We`re present in all breaks, and we look like a strong team".

Euskaltel bad in Santarém

Euskaltel did not have the best of days in the Volta ao Distrito de Santarém today to say the least. In a 1.1 ranked event, and with few Pro Tour teams present, you would expect Euskaltel to fight for the wins. Though, Euskaltel weren`t even close. The best placed Euskaltel rider was Lander Aperribay in a distant 60th spot, 17 seconds behind winner Benitez. Aitor Galdos, Dioni Galparsoro, Amets Txurruka and Iban Iriondo were also in this group. Further back, Unai Uribarri placed 140th, 4:04 back, while Andoni Lafuente ended dead last, a massive 25:53 behind. After the stage, sporting director Xavier Carbayeda was far from pleased with his riders. This is what he had to say to "We were bad today. A break consisting of three riders got away, but with none of us in it. Logically we had to chase, as Aitor Galdos was our big hope for a sprint. Though, we weren`t able to get anyone in the front group. Tomorrow has to be better than this. The only way is up".

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Albizuri impressive; Koldo unlucky

Beñat Albizuri is enjoying a fantastic start to the season, as he once again has been part of a breakaway. After already being in breaks twice this year, he decided to give it a go again on the first stage of the Pro Tour stage-race Tirreno-Adriatico today. Beñat, together with Muraglia, Commesso and Priamo, broke clear after 45 kms, and stayed away almost until the end. The quartet got reeled in with less than three kms to go. That set it up for a sprint finish, and hopes were high for Koldo Fernandez as he`s been in awesome for of late. In the closing kms he could be seen all the time at the very front of the peloton, but, sadly, he punctured with less than two kms to go, and therefore couldn`t contest the sprint. Koldo had also gone to the ground earlier in the day, after a mass-crash in the pack, but seemed to be unscathed. Unai Etxebarria came in as the best placed Euskaltel rider on the stage, taking 28th place. All Euskaltel riders, with the exception of Iban Mayoz who came in 27 seconds back, came in with the peloton.

After the stage, Euskaltel director Jon Odriozola and Beñat Albizuri talked to First up, Jon: "The team did a great job today, and everyone have been where I expected them to be. Mayoz and Albizuri had the objective to join breaks, as today`s stage was suited to their abilities, as they`re both good rouleurs and with a good sprint. Albizuri was the one who got away today, and he gave us a lot of publicity. Though, it was painful to see them reeled in with less than three kms to go. Facing the sprint we had Koldo, who`s arrived here in excellent condition and with a spark. Though, he had bad luck and punctured with only two kms to go. He fought with the best ones, but couldn`t finish off the great work". Beñat had this to say: "It`s been a very fast stage, and as the list of good sprinters is huge, it will be difficult for a break to stay clear. We (the break) attacked early. We cooperated well, but it wasn`t to be. I admit it`s painful to make such a big effort without succeeding. This is the third unsuccessful break this season, after my breakaways in Mallorca and Andalucia both failed. But, we have to keep trying, and hope that perhaps the next break we enter succeeds".

Alan Pérez best placed for Euskaltel

Alan Pérez came in 12th on today`s third stage of the Paris-Nice. A good sprint from the youngster ensured him an honourable placing. As it was a relatively flat stage, all Euskaltel riders came in with the main bunch. Ahead of tomorrow`s mountainious and important stage, Samu Sánchez is the best placed Euskaltel rider on GC, lying 15th at 15 seconds.

Samu: "Léon Sanchez, Contador and Valjavec will be dangerous"

Speaking on tomorrow`s mountainious fourth stage in the Paris-Nice, Euskaltel`s GC hope Samu Sánchez had this to say about his rivals: "In Valencia I felt good, and the stage to Campello showed that. I`ve continued progressing in training, and now`s the moment to show that. As of my rivals, Luis Léon Sanchez and Alberto Contador will be at the front. Contador won in Valencia, and he`s looking good here as well. Luis Léon also did a good prologue, and even though he`s young, he`s accustomed to be among the leaders. Valjavec will also be important... The stage to Mende is important, and will give an indication of the form for all off us.

Easy day for Iban

Iban enjoyed another easy day in the saddle, as today`s stage was quite uncomplicated. Iban came in with the peloton, as number 116. Tomorrow`s stage will see how Iban`s early-season form is coming along, as the stage is quite mountainious. I`ll keep my fingers crossed that he comes in with the leading riders.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Gerrikagoitia pleased so far

Euskaltel`s directeur sportif in Paris-Nice, Gorka Gerrikagoitia, had this to say to after today`s second stage: "The race is panning out like we predicted. Samuel Sánchez and Mikel Astarloza both rode a good prologue and was sufficiently ahead. Yesterday it was Ivan Velasco`s turn to be a protagonist. He was very strong and gave showed that we`re avtice. Today, though, we were present in some attacks, but we couldn`t get a man into the main break. The quality of this race is very high, so it`s difficult to always be ahead." Speaking on tomorrow`s stage, he said: " 215 kms is a lot, so it will be a long stage. We`ll try to join the breaks. Though, Thursday is the stage of Mende, a stage that will surely be decisive. Maybe after that stage the racing will become a bit more controlled." He also spoke of Euskaltel`s chances in this race:" Samuel and Mikel (Astarloza, not Irizar), are both feeling good. They are getting more and more kms into their legs, and by each day they`re getting more competitive. As always, this race is very selective, so it`s vital to stay with the best ones. The Paris-Nice is a very important race for all teams present, so the level is high, and the prestige to win is equally as high. The team is working well, so we hope to keep riding strong."

Iban in with the main pack

Iban came in with the main peloton today, in 87th place, 19 seconds behind victor Pellizotti. The frantic pace at the end caused the peloton to be split up, and Iban came home without troubles with the main group. Tomorrow will see another flat stage, but on Thursday, the race hits the mountains...

Samu 11th in Paris-Nice

Today`s third stage in the Paris-Nice stage-race saw Franco Pellizotti of Liquigas take the win, with Samu Sánchez coming in only two seconds back in 11th place. Samu seems to be in good shape ahead of the potentially race-deciding 5th stage on Thursday.

Today`s break went with no Euskaltel representative in it. Though, it was not for the lack of trying, with both Rúben Pérez and Markel Irizar on the attack in the early stages. Thomas Voeckler, the last of the original four-men break to capitulate, was caught inside the final km. To catch him, the peloton chased at a frantic pace, causing the peloton to split up in several pieces. Pellizotti arrived solo, with a 26-rider strong group followed at two seconds. Samu was a part of this group, coming in 11th, and now lies 11th also on GC. The next Euskaltel rider to come in was Rúben Pérez, who came in with Boonen`s group only 8 seconds adrift of the winner. Further on, Gorka Verdugo, Markel Irizar, Andoni Aranaga and Mikel Astarloza came home with the main group, 19 seconds back. Alan Pérez was 124th, at 46 seconds, while yesterday`s hero Iban Velasco was 139th, at 1:11. Currently, Samu lies 11th overall at only 15 seconds. Rúben Pérez is the next best placed Euskaltel rider in 33rd place. Going into the third stage, Euskaltel lie 10th in the team rankings.

Euskaltel for Volta ao Distrito de Santarém

Euskaltel will take part in the Portuguese four-day stage-race Volta ao Distrito de Santarém starting on Thursday with the following eight riders: Joseba Zubeldia, Aitor Galdos, Dioni Galparsoro, Lander Aperribay, Iban Iriondo, Andoni Lafuente, Unai Uribarri and Amets Txurruka. The stage-race, running for only the second time, will include three regular road-stages, and one ITT, coming on the third day.


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