According to the man in charge of sporting affairs at the team, DS Gorka Gerrikagoitia, the Tour de France team is pretty much set in stone. It's not yet clear who these nine are, but the former professional was adamant he'd rather not call on the Giro d'Italia riders.
"We've pretty much selected the nine riders", he confided to El Desmarque Bizkaia. "We've got four reserves who've all done the Giro, but we'd rather not have to count on them."
French website Velo-Club revealed which riders were in the running for those nine spots a few weeks back, and the following 14 were listed: Astarloza, Azanza, G Izagirre, Martínez, Verdugo, A Pérez, R Pérez, Sánchez, Urtasun, Sicard, Nieve, Txurruka, Velasco and Oroz. Gerrikagoitia's comments indicate the latter four can be discounted, leaving ten riders to chose from for the nine berts available. From how the season has developed for the riders, it would be no bad guess to suggest the main battle appears to be between Romain Sicard and Alan Pérez.
No matter who ends up going, though, "Gerri" is strong in the belief that his team has got what it takes to shine in the biggest race of the year.
"If we are at the level we ought to be, we'll bring a lot of pleasure to our fans", he said.
Mikel Nieve and Iván Velasco will head up Euskaltel's Tour de Suisse squad, while Samu will lead the charge in the Dauphiné the coming weeks. About what just happened on the roads of Italy, the DS could hardly be more pleased.
"I'm satisfied. Nieve proved his credentials as a leader, while the young riders also put their name out there. Ion Izagirre, who's capable of winning a time trial in the Vuelta a Asturias and a stage in the Giro in his first season among the pros, is only 22 and capable of making big strides in the future. All in all we've got a very strong team for the years ahead."
"After these two years doing the Giro, we will continue to go for the race. It's not the best race for us considering our small, 23-man roster, but still", he concluded.