Sunday, January 31, 2010

Romain's 2010 plans

Igor González de Galdeano yesterday revealed Romain's races for the first part of the coming season. The precocious 22-year-old will start out with the Tour du Haut Var, and will look to do well in Paris-Nice after that. The Belgian Classics, namely Wevelgem, Vlaanderen, Roubaix and the Trois Jours de la Panne, are next up, before he'll tackle some Spanish races; Llodio, Asturias and Rioja. After that it's time for the Tour de Picardie, Bayern Rundfahrt and the Dauphiné, before the first part of his season comes to a close with the French National Championships. He'll not do the Tour, but I'm crossing my fingers he'll line up at the start of the Vuelta in Sevilla. Keep an eye on this amazingly gifted boy from Hazparne.

Euskaltel to start independent testing

In a move to avoid last year's doping scandals repeating themselves and to ensure their sponsors' continued loyalty, Euskaltel have signed an agreement with a laboratory in Zamudio to carry out internal doping controls in addition to the UCI, WADA and all the other anti-doping agencies. Each rider will be tested between four and six times, with a quarter of those to be surprise tests. The team wont go public with the results, but the sponsors will have unrestricted access. It will cost Euskaltel 400 000 euros to finance the testing, but it's definetely worth it, both for the sport in general, and for the future of the team in particular.

Gorka making strides

Gorka, who recently made a good impression in the Tour Down Under, says that his training is going well, and that he feels fitter than at the same time last year. "I feel better compared to previous years at this time of year. Training data shows my progression. I do more watts and all that. And the sensations in the TDU were better than anticipated." Gorka will take to the line in Haut Var and the Criterium International before he takes on the Belgian Classics and Romandie.

De Lis to look out for Koldo

Youngster Sergio De Lis has got a clear objective for the coming season: to help Koldo in the sprints. "They (the team directors) have told me to help Koldo in the sprints. But when he's not there or the parcours is too hilly for him, I'll look to get into breaks or help my team-mates. I learned a lot last year (his first as a pro), and I think the experience I got will help me a lot this year. Last year I was a bit stressed out with my weight. Now I know when to eat and all that. I'm really looking forward to getting started". Sergio's early-season calendar will, among other races, consist of the Mallorca Challenge and the Tour de Haut Var, but he'll aim to peak for the spring Classics. "I have to be in top form for the Classics. I've always been attracted to those races and I hope to ride them".

Ill Romain leaves camp

Under-23 World Champ and Tour de l'Avenir winner Romain Sicard abandoned Euskaltel's training camp in Derio yesterday due to suffering from gastroenteritis, or stomach flu as it's more commonly known. Romain will join up with his team-mates again on the 2nd of February though, so that he can take part in the official team presentation in Bilbao. The illness is not thought to keep him out of action for long.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Iván hoping for a healthy year

Iván Velasco, who spent much of last year on the sidelines due to injury, is hoping for an injury-free season ahead. Speaking to el Diario Vasco, the 18th place finisher in the Tour Down Under had this to say: "Yes, I'm satisfied with my first race of the season. You're always a bit nervous ahead of the first race of the year, but the sensations have been good and the result I achieved has given me confidence after a year blighted by crashes and injuries. It's been a hard winter in Oñati. I stayed at home the whole off-season, so you can imagine how it's been to train in the snow. I spent a few days riding in the velodrome, but generally I've been riding on the roads." Speaking of his plans for the season, he said: "I have had to start the season well. I haven't done a lot of specific training though, so I expect to get better with each race. Next up for me is the Mallorca Challenge, and after that it's the Tour de Haut Var, Paris-Nice, Volta a Catalunya, GP Miguel Indurain, Klasika Amorebieta, Amstel Gold, Fleche Wallonne, Liège and then the Tour de Romandie. I don't have any specific objectives. I'll take it day by day and hope to improve like I did until 2008. I hope I'll get to race more than last year when I only did about 40 days. I'm still a little jet-lagged, so I went with the second group in training today. I haven't slept all night." Speaking of Twitter, the amiable rider said: "It's going pretty well. In Australia I posted a lot. I've always been a fan of utilising new technologies, and I think it's a good way to connect with the fans."

Galdeano has the faith

Igor González de Galdeano has spoken of his firm belief in the class of 2010. Speaking to DEIA, he said: "It's going to be a special year, because the team has been renewed with a lot of young, promising riders. Sicard is probably the one with the biggest future ahead of him. He's a great cyclist, and he's a great guy as well. He's got all you need to be successful in this sport." Speaking of the most important races for the team this season, it was the usual suspects: "The Spanish and Basque races - especially the Vuelta al País Vasco and the Vuelta a España - and the Tour. We don't win a lot of races, so we have to show ourselves as an aggressive team. As for Samu, he'll be stronger than ever in the Tour this year. He'll peak for the first time in March or April, and he'll be able to fight for the win in races like Paris-Nice and the Vuelta al País Vasco".

Friday, January 29, 2010

Basque legends turn cyclotoursists

A host of former Euskaltel and Basque legends will take part in the cyclosportive event Circuito Spiuk, to be held over four seperate days this year. Big-name riders like Miguel Induráin, Roberto Laiseka, Marino Lejarreta, Mikel Artexte, Pedro Horrillo, Joseba Beloki, Igor Astarloa, David Etxebarria, Mikel Zarrabeitia, César Solaun, Mikel Pradera and González Salvador will all take to the line on the 28th of March, the 9th of May, the 6th of June and on the 18th of July. Looks to be quite a show.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Koldo outlines 2010 objectives

Koldo has two clear goals for the 2010 season: winning a stage in the Vuelta and taking part in the Worlds in Melbourne. To reach those goals, Koldo will start his season in the Mallorca Challenge, before he goes on to the Volta ao Algarve. After that he'll take part in either Paris-Nice or his more traditional choise of the Tirreno-Adriatico. After that it's time for Milano-San Remo, before the Classics take the front seat, with Koldo pencilled in for Roubaix, Vlaanderen and Ghent-Wevelgem. "I've done those races for a few years now, and I like both the parcours and the atmosphere. The team wants me to do either the Klasika Amorebieta or the Vuelta a Castilla y León though, so we'll see", he's quoted as saying. The one-day races GP Llodio and Vuelta a la Rioja are next up, before the Tour de Picardie will close his first part of the season. He'll skip the Tour this year, and will instead focus on the Vuelta. To arrive at the start-line in Sevilla on top form, he'll do the Vuelta a Burgos and the Circuito de Getxo. He'll hope to close his season by taking part in the Worlds in Geelong, Melbourne, as Freire's right-hand man on the mainly flat route.

Galdeano pleased with TDU performance

Euskaltel's chief of, well, everything, Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano, has spoken to the press about his delight at his young team's performance in the first race of the year, the Pro Tour event Tour Down Under. "I think they (the riders), generally, did a very good job", he said. "It's not easy to compete with a team full of new riders. Let alone in a Pro Tour race. But they all raced without fear, and that's important if you hope to win".

Galdeano happy with "promising" riders

Head of Euskaltel Euskadi, Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano, told el Diario Vasco yesterday about his hopes for the young riders in the team. "We have riders with a great future ahead of them in this team", he enthused. "We hope their talent will show in their results already this coming season." Igor will no doubt look to unpolished diamonds Jonathan Castroviejo and Romain Sicard, as well as former Footon-Servetto rider Beñat Intxausti, to come up with the goods already in their first season with the team. Beñat is said to be targeting the shortes stage-races this year, along with a possible ride in the Vuelta towards the end of the year. I'd love to see him in the Tour though, as the rider tagged the new Ibán Mayo a couple of years back (or was that just me?), has certainly got the climbing abilities to shine in the Pyrenees and the Alps, as well as assisting Samu in his bid for overall glory. And, as Beñat has said himself, he's old enough to debut in the race. He's 24, and last year did his first Grand Tour, the Vuelta. He did pretty well there I think, getting close to a stage-win and riding consistently over the three weeks. But sadly he's not short listed for the Tour this season, but there's always the future for this excellent climber who turned pro at the tender age of 20.

Pablo suffering from tendinitis

Sprinter and one-day specialist Pabol Urtasun, one of the riders charged with bringing in the team's first win of the year, will have to delay his start to the season. The 31-year-old Urdiain native is suffering from tendinitis in his knee, and will thus take an enforced break from training and racing. The problem is not thought to be long-term though, so Pablo will be back in training pretty quickly.

Euskaltel to stage pre-season camp

Even though the season is well underway, Euskaltel will hold a week-long team camp in the usual location, that will be Derio in Bizkaia, from the 28 of January to the 3rd of February. The 3rd of February will also be the day of the official team presentation in the Palacio Euskalduna in Bilbao. Just so you know.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Gorka Izagirre making waves Down Under

Gorka Izagirre, Euskaltel's new 23-year-old rider who joined from Contentpolis-AMPO in the close-season, put his name out there in his first Pro Tour race for the team. Gorka lined up with four other Pro Tour debutants in the recently-concluded Tour Down Under in Australia, and will no doubt look back at it as a success. Being active all through the race, from the Cancer Council Helpline Classic to the concluding crit on stage six, and placing a respectable 28th overall, is no mean feat for a Pro Tour newbie. Add that to the fact that he was away with Cadel Evans, Alejandro Valverde, Luis León Sánchez and Slovakian sensation Peter Sagan on the last climb up the Willunga Hill until a mere 1000 metres were left to go, and you've got one impressive overall performance indeed from the precocious 23-year-old. Coming up Willunga Hill in a small select group in third position just behind Lance was impressive.

Given that Gorka has been in and around the Spanish national team for quite a few years now along with the likes of Rafael Valls, Jonathan Castroviejo and Beñat Intxausti, I'd been expecting quite a bit from the Gipuzkoan. Though I wasn't expecting him to come up with the goods this fast. I won't complain though. Sadly, there's not a lot of talent coming out of Spain, let alone from the País Vasco, these days, or should I say years. But in Gorka I think we might have got one. He can obviously climb. He's fast, but not a sprinter. He's good on the flats. In his own words, he's an all-rounder who hasn't quite yet decided where to channel his efforts. But he's got time on his side. And if his progression to date in anything to go by, we might be looking at a future champ.

Orbea getting ready for new season

Euskaltel's feeder team Orbea will again line up for the 2010 season as a Continental team. The roster this year counts 12 riders, with 7 of these coming in from other teams. Last year Jonathan Castroviejo, Romain Sicard, Minguel Mínguez and Daniel Sesma made the leap to Euskaltel, and, judging by the quality at new sports director Alex Diaz's hands, they'll look to get another rider or two into the Pro Tour by season's end. Andoni Blázquez, Ricardo García, Mikel Ilundain, Joseba Larralde and Beñat Urain will stay on for another year with the team, while Mikel Landa, Jon Aberasturi, Noel Martín and Xabier Zabalo will join from la Fundacion Euskadi's under-23 team Naturgas Energía. Adrián Sáez de Arregi will join from the highly productive Caja Rural, while Aritz Etxeberria will join from fellow Basque amateur team Bidelan-Kirolgi. An interesting addition to the team this year is the talented Jon Izagirre, who comes over from Seguros Bilbao. Jon's older brother, Gorka, joined Euskaltel this year and has already made quite an impression for his new team in Australia. Jon will no doubt look to join Gorka at the Pro Tour level in a few years. Aitor Olano, who I expected great things from a couple of years ago, had to leave Orbea at the end of the 2009 season, along with Ibon Lavín, Eriz Ruiz de Erentxun and Eneko Echeverz. While the class of 2010 might not contain potential world-beaters like Sicard and Castroviejo, the line-up still looks pretty good. Keep an eye on the aforementioned Izagirre Jr, as well as Sáez de Arregi and Urain and Ilundain. Given that Alvaro González de Galdeano joined hermano Igor at Euskaltel this year, Alex Díaz will be the head of Orbea this year. "We have a very young team, but all the riders are intent on showing they deserve to turn pro. That's our motivation this season", the new man at the helm said recently. Their motivation will mostly be channeled towards the usual races, namely the GP Miguel Indurain, Subida a Urkiola, Circuito de Getxo, Klasika de Amorebieta, GP Llodio and the Klasika de Ordizia. Watch this space.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Naturgas Energía 2010 line-up

La Fundacion Euskadi's under-23 team, Naturgas Energía, have released their 2010 line-up. The team will consist of: Alberto Guinea, Efrén Carazo, Carlos Barbero, Fernando Grijalva, Unai Martínez, Mikel Martioda, Alex Bilbao, Peio Bilbao, David Hidalgo, Jon Larrinaga, Igor Merino, Rory Martínez, Mikel Bizkarra, Aitor Ocampos, Urtzi Legarra, Alfonso Sainz and Andoni Sánchez. Most of these names might be new to you, but a number of these riders might make up part of the Euskaltel line-up in a few years, so be sure to pay attention to these talented guys. Stand-out performers with the team regularly earn a ride with Euskaltel's feeder team Orbea, and just the past year four riders made the jump. Noel Martín, Xabier Zabalo, Jon Aberasturi and Mikel Landa all showed promise on the Spanish youth circuit and signed up for the highly-effective Orbea team. Of this quartet my bet is on Mikel Landa and Noel Martín to make the biggest impression, and on the Naturgas roster you could do worse than pay attention to third-year rider Aitor Ocampos and second-year riders Peio and Alex Bilbao and Jon Larrinaga. The team grabbed an impressive 17 wins in 2009 alone, and will look to build on that success as soon as the racing starts.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


As some of you might have noticed, the Euskaltel riders have finally joined the rest of the peloton in sharing their thoughts on the world on Twitter. If you have a Twitter account, be sure to follow the Euskaltel riders to get some inside info on what the life of a pro is really like. The guys have been twittering like crazy the last few days and have put out some cool photos from the Tour Down Under. Check it out.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Tour Down Under

As I continue my backpacking trip around the world, I decided to stop by Adelaide for the Tour Down Under. Here's a few of photos from yesterday's Cancer Council Helpline Classic:

Sicard talks of his delight at being in Australia

The line-up for the race

Getting a photo with the great Daniel Sesma

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Pablo Urtasun

  • Full name: Pablo Urtasun Pérez
  • Date of birth: 29.03.1980
  • Place of birth: Urdiain, Navarra
  • Turned professional: 2005
  • Joined Euskaltel: 2009
  • Previous teams: CSC (stagiare, 2003-2004), Kaiku (2005-2006), Liberty Seguros (2007-2008)
  • Palmarès: 1st: stage 1 Volta ao Alentejo 2006, stage 3 Vuelta Ciclista a la Rioja 2007, stage 2 Volta al Sotavento Algarvio 2007, stage 5 Vuelta a Asturias 2008, stage 1 Vuelta a Asturias 2010, stage 7 Tour of Britain 2012, stage 1 Vuelta a Castilla y León 2013. 2nd place: stage 3 Vuelta a Castilla y León 2006, stage 3 International Rheinland Pfalz Rundfahrt 2006, overall International Rheinland Pfalz Rundfahrt 2006, stage 2 Tour de Suisse 2010, Vuelta a La Rioja 2012, stage 1 of Vuelta a Asturias, Klasika Primavera 2013. 3rd place: stage 2 Volta ao Alentejo 2006, stage 4 Volta ao Santarem 2007, stage 1 Vuelta Ciclista a Asturias 2007, stage 5 Vuelta a Castilla y León 2009, Prueba Villafranca de Ordiozia 2009, stage 1 Vuelta a Castilla y León 2010, stage 2 Vuelta a Castilla y León 2012, overall Vuelta a Castilla y León 2012.

Sergio De Lis

  • Full name: Sergio De Lis De Andrés
  • Date of birth: 09.05.1986
  • Place of birth: San Sebastián/Donostia, Gipuzkoa
  • Turned professional: 2008
  • Joined Euskaltel: 2009
  • Previous teams: Orbea-Oreka SDA (2008)
  • Palmarès:

Romain Sicard

  • Full name: Romain Sicard
  • Date of birth: 01.01.1988
  • Place of birth: Hazparne, Pays Basque, France
  • Turned professional: 2009
  • Joined Euskaltel: 2010
  • Previous teams: Orbea (2009)
  • Palmarès: 1st: Subida al Naranco 2009, stage 2 Ronde de l'Isard 2009, stage 8 (ITT) Tour de l'Avenir 2009, overall Tour de l'Avenir 2009, Under-23 World Road Race Championship 2009. 2nd: Prologue Tour de Loir-et-Cher 2009, stage 1 Tour de l'Avenir 2009, stage 6 Tour de l'Avenir 2009, stage 4 Critérium du Dauphiné 2010. 3rd: overall Tour de Haut Anjou 2009, stage 3 Cinturó de L'Empordá.

Gorka Izagirre

  • Full name: Gorka Izagirre Insausti
  • Date of birth: 07.10.1987
  • Place of birth: Ormaiztegi, Gipuzkoa
  • Turned professional: 2009
  • Joined Euskaltel: 2010
  • Previous teams: Contentpolis AMPO (2009)
  • Palmarès: 1st: Stage 4 Tour de Luxembourg 2010, Prueba Villafranca Ordizia 2010, Prueba Villafranca Ordizia 2012. 2nd: Trofeo Deiá 2011. 3rd: Stage 16 Tour de France 2012, stage 3 Paris-Nice 2013.

Beñat Intxausti

  • Full name: Beñat Intxausti Elorriaga
  • Date of birth: 20.03.1986
  • Place of birth: Zornotza, Bizkaia
  • Turned professional: 2007
  • Joined Euskaltel: 2010
  • Previous teams: Grupu Nicolas Mateos (2007), Saunier Duval-Prodir/Fuji Servetto (2008-2009)
  • Palmarès: 1st: Stage 3b (ITT) of the Vuelta a Asturias 2010. 2nd: stage 4 of the Tour de San Luis 2008. 3rd: stage 7 of the Tour de l'Avenir 2007, overall in the Vuelta al País Vasco 2010, stage 4 of the Vuelta a Asturias 2010, overall of the Vuelta a Asturias 2010.

Jonathan Castroviejo

  • Full name: Jonathan Castroviejo Nicolas
  • Date of birth: 27.04.1987
  • Place of birth: Getxo, Bizkaia
  • Turned professional: 2008
  • Joined Euskaltel: 2010
  • Previous teams: Orbea-Oreka SDA (2008-2009)
  • Palmarès: 1st: stage 3 Tour du Haut Anjou 2009, stage 5 Tour de l'Avenir 2009, prologue Ronde de l'Isard 2009, prologue Tour de Romandie 2011, stage 1 (ITT) Vuelta a Madrid 2011. 2nd: stage 2 Tour de Haut Anjou 2009, overall Ronde de l'Isard, overall Circuito Montañes 2009, stage 3b (ITT) Vuelta a Asturias 2010, Spanish National Time Trial Championship 2011. 3rd: stage 6 Circuito Montañes 2009, overall Vuelta a Madrid 2011. 6th: Spanish National Time Trial Championship 2009.
  • Miguel Mínguez

    • Full name: Miguel Mínguez Ayala
    • Date of birth: 30.08.1988
    • Place of birth: Bilbao, Bizkaia
    • Turned professional: 2009
    • Joined Euskaltel: 2010
    • Previous teams: Orbea (2009)
    • Palmarès:

    Daniel Sesma

    • Full name: Daniel Sesma Sorbet
    • Date of birth: 18.06.1984
    • Place of birth: Arre, Navarra
    • Turned professional: 2008
    • Joined Euskaltel: 2010
    • Previous teams: Orbea-Oreka SDA (2008-2009)
    • Palmarès:

    Mikel Nieve

    • Full name: Mikel Nieve Iturralde
    • Date of birth: 26.05.1984
    • Place of birth: Leitza, Navarra
    • Turned professional: 2008
    • Joined Euskaltel: 2009
    • Previous teams: Orbea-Oreka SDA (2008)
    • Palmarès: 1st: Stage 16 Vuelta a España 2010, stage 15 Giro d'Italia 2011. 2nd: Stage 8 Tour de Suisse 2012. 3rd: stage 20 Giro d'Italia 2012, stage 2 Tour de Suisse 2012, stage 5 Tour Méditerranéen 2013.

    Ibán pay homage to World Champ Astarloa

    Ibán will today take part in a tribute to 2003 World Road Race Champion Igor Astarloa. The celebration will be held in Ermua, Astarloa's hometown. After a few turbulent years on the road, Astarloa has decided to quit the sport after 10 seasons in the pro peloton. The tribute features a who's who of past and present Basque cycling greats, including, among others, Big Mig Induraín, Roberto Laiseka, Marino Lejarreta, Sabino Angoitia, Koldo Fernández, Mikel Zarrabeitia, David and Unai Etxebarria, and of course the man himself.


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