Monday, December 01, 2008


My dear readers, I'll be taking some time off the next couple of weeks. I'm sorry to say it, but I have to. But you should be fine I think, we're still in the off-season and not much is going on. I just need to free some time that's all. I'm way too busy, so I decided that I should stop blogging for a while. Though, if there's any news on Ibán you'll still find it here as that's the most important thing. Euskaltel, though, will have to wait I'm afraid. Except for eventual posts about Ibán I won't update it for at least a couple of weeks, perhaps more. But I'm not shutting the blog down mind you, so please check back regularly to find out when I plan to return. Until then, take care.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Galdós 2nd in Memorial Isabel Clavero

Aitor Galdós took another second place in an off-season race. This time in the Memorial Isabel Clavero. Aitor, who by the way has the most efficient pedal stroke in the team I learned today, only got beaten by Héctor Guerra. Just so you know.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Mikel best Basque

Mikel yesterday received the "Best Basque rider in the Tour de France"-award by the Sociedad Urkamendi. The award goes to the rider who did best on GC, which this year turned out to be Mikel with his slightly disappointing 16th place. Former Euskaltel rider Haimar Zubeldia has won the prize four times in his career, while this was Mikel's first time. Team-mates Gorka and Egoi were among the celebrities attending the celebration.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Euskaltel still in Pro Tour

Euskaltel yesterday got their Pro Tour license renewed by the UCI. I guess that's good news, don't you think?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Duo to Logroño

Alán and Juanjo will take part in the I Jornadas sobre Ciclismo Profesional hosted by the Logroñes Cycling Club tomorrow evening. Just so you know.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Pro Tour license up for consideration

Euskaltel have once again applied for a Pro Tour license for the next two years. Good news. The UCI today released a statement which read: "A decision is still pending on applications submitted by the teams Euskaltel-Euskadi (ESP) and BBox Bouygues Telecom (FRA). These applications will be considered at a later date." No need to panic as of yet then.

Training camp day 2

This happened at day two of Euskaltel's training camp in Derio:

  • The riders left the hotel at 10:00 AM to pay a visit to bike-manufacturer Orbea's facilities.
  • Afterwards the whole team went to Meñaka to celebrate Miguel Madariaga's birthday over lunch.
  • After the celebration came to a close, they all headed back to Derio for a short work-out. The majority of the riders opted for the rollers, while some headed for the gym. During the session on the rollers, biomechanic Juan García López got to work with a few of the guys on their positioning.

Trio to promote tourism

Samu, Koldo and Ruben will all get on the plane to Valladolid for the weekend to be present at the XII Feria Internacional del Turismo de Interior. The three riders were invited by the Basque Government's Tourism department, and the riders will be signing autographs at Euskadi's own stand. Samu will be there on Friday, while Koldo and Rubén will be there on Saturday.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The staff

There's been quite a few changes to Euskaltel's backroom staff so far in the off-season, so a lot of you must be confused right now. But I'll try to change that right now:

  • General manager: Miguel Madariaga
  • Technical secretary: Igor González de Galdeano
  • Sports directors: Igor González de Galdeano, Gorka Gerrikagoitia, Josu Larrazabal (Alex Díaz)
  • Sport psychologist: Sergio Torres
  • Physical trainers: Josu Larrazabal, Alex Díaz
  • Doctors: Raquel Ortolano, Guillermo Cuesta, Sergio Quilez
  • Biomechanic: Juan García López
  • Osteopath: Nicolas Pescheux
  • Spokesman: Jesus Aizkorbe
  • Mechanics: Tomás Amezaga, Luis Lamas, Eneko Larrea, Jose Cruz Mujica, Joxe Nazabal, Luis Otazu
  • Masseurs: Andoni Arce, Miguel Caravaca, Jon Carbayeda Gabino Ereñozaga, Miguel Izaguirre, Joseba Lekue, Borja Rodríguez

Training camp day 1

This happened at day one of Euskaltel's training camp in Derio:
  • The weather was bad, so the riders opted for a quick spin on the rollers instead after having some breakfast.
  • Apparel-supplier Astore presented Euskaltel's new clothing range for leisure wear.
  • The traditional traning camp press-conference was held at 13:00. José Antonio Ardanza, Euskaltel's president, was awarded the Fundacion Euskadi Ciclista's top honour. All 23 riders were present.
  • Later in the day, Euskaltel's new sport psychologist, Sergio Torres, got to present himself.
  • The riders received advice on nutrition from dietician.

Third DS joins

Josu Larrazabal will join Euskaltel in 2009 to become the team's third directeur sportif. "Josu Larrazabal, who's already collaborated with Orbea, will join Euskaltel to become our third Sports Director", Galdeano said. "He'll be in charge of the physical training of the team, and will in addition direct the team in some smaller races. Gorka Gerrikagoitia and I will take care of the remainder of the races."

Igor targets Tour

Igor will, as predicted on this site, aim for the Tour de France next season. As Samu will take a pass on the event to focus on winning the two most important Vueltas, that of the País Vasco and España, the team's other two GC riders Igor and Mikel will focus on the Grand Boucle. "Yes, he'll got the Tour", Galdeano said of Igor at Euskaltel's camp in Derio. "Since Samu will be focusing on winning the País Vasco and the Vuelta a España, Antón will ride the Tour. He'll be there mainly to win a stage, but we're not ruling out going for the GC either." As for Astarloza, he said: "With Astarloza we hope to obtain a triumph before going to the Tour. We can't pin everything on the that race". Good news indeed.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Euskaltel stars present in Baqué celebration

Several Euskaltel stars were present yesterday in Durango to celebrate Café Baqué's 30 years of existence. Haimar, Koldo, Iñigo, Amets and Aitor Galdós represented the team alongside stars of the past like Marino Lejarreta, Miguel Induraín, Julián Gorospe, Rubén Gorospe, Joseba Beloki just to name a few. Our very own Aitor ran out winner of the elimination race.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Samu and Mikel head for San Diego

Samu and Mikel will next Saturday jump on the plane to San Diego for aerodynamic and equipment testing in the city's wind tunnel. The riders will be staying overseas for at least three days and fine-tune their time trial positions and testing out new gear from Orbea. Orbea's product engineer Iñaki Argote will run the tests and will be responsible for analyzing collected data. Gorka Gerrikagoitia, Euskaltel's DS, and Justin Slarks, the person in charge of Orbea USA, will also be travelling.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Euskaltel stars to promote BTT

Samu, Markel, Aitor Galdós and the new Euskaltel recruits Sergio de Lis and Mikel Nieve will, along with Naturgas Energía representatives Martzel Elorriaga y Samuel del Valle, on Sunday at 11.00 AM take part in a 7-kilometre walk to promote the Basque Government's BTT Centres. The BTT Centres take aim at promoting tourism in the region and the use of bicycles in daily life. The 45-minute walk will start outside the Centro BTT Debabarrena in Elgoibar, and the walkers will be able to get the stars' autographs as well as some food afterwards. Sounds lovely.

Euskaltel and Skoda roll on

Euskaltel have decided to prolong their cooperation with their car-supplier Skoda. The Czech manufacturer came on board last season and, apparently, both parties were pleased to extend the deal. On the coming Saturday in Sán Sebastián there will be a big celebration of sorts where the deal will be confirmed, Samu's unique Olympic-themed bike will be on show and a tribute will be payed to the Olympic Champ. The heads of Euskaltel, Orbea and Skoda, along with Samu, Haimar and Mikel to name a few, will be present.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Samu: "It was awesome"

Samu was a happy and grateful man after being given the chance to ride a GP motorcycle on the track in Jérez. Speaking afterwards, the great man said: "It was a fantastic experience and everyone were phenomenal towards me. I'd always wanted to ride a motorcycle like this, and I have to say it was awesome. I've always admired the pilots and, after this experience, I admire them even more. I struggled a little bit in the beginning, but I improved time went by. The truth is that I've had teachers of the highest standard".

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Haimar's diary

Haimar has, finally, posted a new entry to his diary on his own website. Here's what the departing legend had to say this time around, titled: "Here we go again".

First of all, my apologies for not updating my website for a while. After finishing my season in the Deutschland Tour, a race in which I did well and which made the end of the year a good one, I went home and dedicated myself 100 % to my family. Since Ane was born, I've never had as much time as now to be together with them. We spent nine days relaxing and reloading the batteries at the Canary Islands. Altogether I was off the bike for four weeks, more or less the same I've done the previous years.

But I've already embarked on this new project with renewed illusion. Everything's new to me: new team, new bike, new people... I still haven't met any of my new team-mates, but we've had some contact over the phone. The first camp with the team will be at the end of this month, and then I'll be able to get to know my new team-mates. I already know many of them, but from now on they'll be team-mates not companions. The team will on paper be one of the very best, although we have to prove we're the best on the road. Alberto (Contador), with his youth, and Lance, with his palmarès, will be the two main leaders. Levi (Leipheimer) and Klöden though are also able to win the biggest races, and the signing of Popovych further reinforces the team. I hope to do well in the Grand Tours and be able to help them win them. But I'm not forgetting the other riders on the team as they will, surely, do very well.

But before all this, I'll shine in the colours of Euskaltel-Euskadi for the last time this weekend. Once again I'd like to reiterate my gratefulness and wish everyone on the team the very best for the future. I'll take part in Café Baqué's criterium this Saturday in Durango. The Baqué team has existed for 25 years in the amateur category, and that's quite something. I never raced in Baqué's colours, but when I was at Olarra, Baqué was one of the strongest teams around and they still are. On Saturday we'll pay tribute to them, and I hope they keep the team going for another number of years.

I'll soon let you all know how the training camp unfolded. Until then...

Dioni finds new home in Murcia

To my delight, Dioni Galparsoro has managed to find a team for next year. Contentpolis-Murcia, or Murcia-AMPO as the Pro Conti team is likely to be called next year, decided to offer Dioni a contract, a contract he of course signed after his deal with Euskaltel wasn't extended this year. I'm happy to see he was able to land a deal with another team and, in the current clima of professional cycling, that's well done to him.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Samu 2nd in ACP criterium

The Criterium de la Asociación de Ciclistas Profesionales was held yesterday in Boadilla, Spain. Euskaltel were represented through Samu, Mikel, Koldo and Rubén, and Samu eventually finished 2nd behind retiring track great Joan Llaneras. Riders like Sastre, Contador and Valverde also participated, so Samu's 2nd place shows he's not resting on his laurels just yet.

Samu heads for San Diego

Samu will travel to San Diego to undergo wind-tunnel testing after next week's team get-together in Derio. Samu will, in his own words, "correct my position on the time trial bike" in the same facility used recently by Lance and Contador. Samu has taken big steps in the discipline over the last few years but, typical of champions like Samu, is still not entirely pleased.

Samu set to skip Tour

Despite placing 7th or 6th, who knows, at this year's Tour de France, Samu is prepared to take a pass at the 2009 edition of the race, he told Spanish newspaper La Opinion this weekend. "In principle, I won't do the Tour next year", he said. "I'm instead going to focus on the Vuelta a España, the Vuelta al País Vasco and the Wordls. It bothers me that I won't be going to the Tour, but I'm trying to do what's best for me and for the team. Last year I was in the top 6, and I believe if it wasn't for my bad day at the Tourmalet I could have fought for a place on the podium. Four years ago I wouldn't believe that if someone had told me." Speaking of the Vuelta, he said: "I've already been third overall in the Vuelta, so my goal is now to win the whole thing. Hopefully I'll be at the start of the Worlds with just as good form as I had in Beijing this year. But the Worlds, in Mendrisio, will be very hard". I know many of you will probably disagree, but I like the fact that he'll skip the Tour. I don't believe the Tour really suits Samu's way of riding, so I think he's doing the right thing.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Aketza is back

In the peloton that is, not in Euskaltel. Aketza yesterday revealed he landed a deal at the newly-formed Portuguese team Cartaxo-Capital. He didn't reveal the length of his contract, but he did express his satisfaction: "To get a contract with a team is a big triumph for me as the situation I was in was a really difficult one", he said. Well done, Aketza.

Samu, Mikel and Amets stand up

Three Euskaltel riders, Amets, Mikel and Samu, represented Euskaltel at the Basque Government's Tourist Department's stand at the Feria de Montaña y Destinos Turísticos in Madrid on Friday. The three famous riders signed posters to the visitors for a total of 3 and half hours. Yet again, don't know how interesting this information is, but in the off-season it's harder to come by interesting news than in the Tour if you know what I mean.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Ibán present at celebration

Ibán has, for the first time in quite a while, showed himself publically. Yesterday he took part in his amateur team Café Baqué's 30-year celebration alongside the likes of Aitor Galdós, Mikel Zarrabeitia and good friend David Etxebarria. Café Baqué is widely recognised as one of the world's all-time best amateur teams, turning a more-than-healthy number of young hopefuls into stars on the big stage. Ibán spent two highly successful years with the team after leaving Banesto's youth team at the end of 1996. During his two-year spell at Baqué, who was back then led by Sabino Angoitia, Ibán's right hand and DS at Saunier Duval, he accumulated no less than 13 wins. No wonder he still has feelings for the team then.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Golfing for the kids

Mikel recently took part in the VI Semana del Deporte Adaptado de Gipuzkoa where he golfed for a day together with 25 others, many of them disadvantaged children. Not the most interesting thing I've ever written, but I thought it'd be wise to let you all know that the Euskaltel riders we all adore are doing good things for the community while they're not on the bike. Euskaltel are, and always have been, very active in the local communities in the Basque country. That's what makes the team so special.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Samu to live the dream

Samu has always been a big fan of motorracing. On Monday, he'll be living the dream. Together with ex-rider Herri Torróntegui, a former winner of World Cup events, and Efrén Vázquez, of the team Blusens BQR, he'll ride on the famous track in Jerez. Samu will get the chance to test the car in several disciplines, and I wouldn't be surprised if he were to show talent on the track as well. "Samu is an exemplary sportsman who deserves all kind of recognition", Vázquez's manager said. Well spoken.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Gil looking for a job

Talented Basque climber Koldo Gil, formerly of the disgraced Liberty Seguros outfit, is out of job at the moment. The rider, who was caught up in the whole Operacion Puerto scandal, did not get his contract extended with Continental team Liberty this year after suffering from a virus which led to bad performances all year. So you're Basque, you're a climber, and you're without a team. What do you do? Call Galdeano of course. "I spoke to Igor González de Galdeano to see if they had a place for me on the team", he said. "I know that it'll be difficult (to get a contract), seeing as they've already finalized their 2009 roster. Igor told me he'd think about it, but also said it would be complicated. If I don't get a contract, I'm still without a team". It seems Galdeano didn't need too long thinking it over though, as the well-informed Euskaltel-Euskadi Blog ( quickly reported that there was indeed no room for him next year. I'm really glad he didn't land a contract. Of course, he's a brilliant rider who's capable of winning the biggest races, but it seems, jugding by his performances and links to Fuentes, that he hasn't got his ethics quite sorted out if you know what I mean. I wasn't happy to read that Galdeano indeed tried to find a place for him on the team, but, then again, they were both on the same team in the past. Bad habits never die I guess.

This man is amazing

What did I tell you? Samu is indeed a very likeable guy who has got his feet firmly planted on Mother Earth. And he's a very generous person who knows what has brought him his success. Amazingly, he's now decided he's going to share the prize money he got for winning the Olympics with his four team-mates on the day; Contador, Valverde, Sastre and Freire. And he's going to share it equally. He's reported to have received 94.000 euro for his big win, and is now looking to repay his team-mates for their work, though in a bit more literal way than usual. Once again he amazes me. He really makes me proud.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Euskaltel omnipresent in Jornadas de Ciclismo Profesional

The Jornadas de Ciclismo Profesional will be hosted for the 13th time from the 20th to the 23rd of November in Cuenca. Some of the biggest stars of cycling in Spain are invited, and among them are four associated with Euskaltel. Samu will be the main attraction on the first day, as the theme of the opening day will be "Beijing 2008, the culmination of an Olympic dream". The second day will be all about the stars of the Tour de France this year, so Galdeano and Egoi are invited to join in on the act. And that's not all; on the third day Euskaltel's physical trainer, Mr. Josu Larrazabal, will be talking to the audience about powertraining. Alejandro Valverde, Luis León Sánchez and Paco Antequera are among the big-names not from Euskaltel who will attend the celebration

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Euskaltel awards 2008

  • Best rider: Koldo Fernández
  • Best climber: Samuel Sánchez
  • Best sprinter: Koldo Fernández
  • Best time triallist: Mikel Astarloza
  • Best stage-racer: Samuel Sánchez
  • Best Classics rider: Samuel Sánchez
  • Best all-rounder: Samuel Sánchez
  • Best new-comer: Egoi Martínez
  • Best domestique: Iván Velasco
  • Best young prospect: Javier Aramendía
  • Best stage-race prospect: Igor Antón
  • Best lead-out man: Alán Pérez
  • Best breakaway rider: Iñigo Landaluze
  • Best neo-pro: Josu Agirre
  • Best signing: Egoi Martínez
  • Best tactician: Jon Odriozola
  • Most consistent rider: Mikel Astarloza
  • Most inconsistent rider: Amets Txurruka
  • Most improved rider: Gorka Verdugo
  • Most unlucky rider: Igor Antón
  • Most underperforming rider: Aitor Galdos
  • Most underrated rider: Iván Velasco and Alán Pérez
  • Most aggressive rider: Samuel Sánchez
  • Most injury-prone rider: Igor Antón
  • Most popular rider: Samuel Sánchez
  • Best moment: Samu's Olympic win

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Getting ready to rumble

The Euskaltel riders will not get that long a vacation this year. The first training camp is scheduled for the 23rd to the 27th this month. Sounds really early to me, but they know what they're doing. The riders will spend the five days in Derio, Bizkaia, and will use them to figure out which riders will do which races next year, train a little, renew acquaintances, talk to the media and getting done with some medical examinations. Sounds good.

Celebrating Samu

Samu better like parties. If not, he's having a hard time these days. Friday the 21st, in 15 days that is, his fan club will throw their annual post-season dinner with Samu as the honorary guest. The celebration, which will take place in a restaurant in Samu's hometown Oviedo, is open to all fan club members, friends and supporters. If you feel like going, call 985 214384 before the 14th of November and book a place around the table.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Jorge under the knife

Jorge successfully removed the metal plate in his left collarbone this morning. Jorge broke his collarbone in last year's deciding time trial in the Vuelta al País Vasco, and has since been riding with a piece of metal in his body. As the picture indicate, Jorge was very pleased to have the screws removed. He's already at his home chlling out and recuperating.

Samu awarded

Samu has yet again received recognition for his superb performance in Beijing this year. This time he's won the Premio Delfos del deporte, awarded by the Asociación de Amigos del Deporte. It's not just like every other prize he's won though. To win this particular prize you've got to have more than outstanding results to show for. You've got to be a good guy so to say. Personal qualities is the main criteria to put it straight. "His olympic gold plus his personal values won him the award", the president of the jury, Misael Fernández said. The jury also emphasized his "friendliness and helpfulness" towards his companions on the road as a big factor in their decision. The award will be handed over to Samu on the coming Friday in the Nuevo Teatro de La Felguera.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

De Lis signs

Sergio De Lis has surprisingly signed a two-year deal with Euskaltel. When I say surprisingly it's not because I don't rate him 'cause, believe me, I do, but it's surprising because Madariaga, Galdeano et al. have been saying these last weeks that no more riders would join the team. As it turns out, the UCI regulations say that every Pro Tour team must at least have 23 riders on their books. It's a mistery to me why the Euskaltel heads weren't aware of the rule. But, anyway, they chose to hire promising 22-year-old Sergio De Lis from Orbea. Sergio is a gifted time triallist and can, in his own words, defend himself in the mountains. "It's a great joy to join Euskaltel", he enthused. "It's every Basque cyclist's dream. They (the Fundacion Euskadi) have supported me ever since I rode for Alfus Tedes. I continued to progress in Orbea, and now I'm here! It's an enormous satisfaction, and I'll continue to work hard. I can't let this opportunity slip away." Sergio has a background from the track, something which will no doubt come in handy in the time trials. He's numerous track wins to his name, and he's also won the under-23 Spanish Road Race Championship. I've watched him closely this year, and I've been impressed with his performances. Especially his showing in the Circuito Montañes, where he held the leader's jersey for two days, was awesome. Next year will of course all be about adjusting to Pro Tour-level racing, but I'm very optimistic that he'll one day turn into a winner on the road.

Monday, November 03, 2008


A look at the 2008 statistics shows Euskaltel grabbed 8 wins in total. Or 7, it depends on whether you count Samu's Olympic gold an Euskaltel or Spain win. Personally I look at it as a Spanish win first and foremost. Anyway, 8 wins is not really much. Samu took five of those in Spanish races, while Samu took the ITT in Asturias and Igor won the 2nd stage in the Tour de Suisse. It's not good, it really isn't. And of course the guys at the helm at the team know this. Euskaltel have in fact got quite a few good riders, so reaching double figures should be the target next year. The team got 13 second places this year with Koldo grabbing 4 of those. Though, if some of those 13, like Igor's double-miss in the Euskal Bizikleta, Markel's fantastic ride in the Paris-Nice prologue, Egoi's agonising loss in the Tour, Alán's 2nd in the Giro's stage 6 and, of course, the team's 2nd in the opening team time trial in the Vuelta, had been turned into wins, it would have made for much happier reading. Luck really wasn't on Euskaltel's side this year, but, then again, all those second places weren't down to luck. Most of all it was down to bad tactics and inexperience. The number of third places surprised me quite a bit. I thought we got at least 10 of those, but as it turns out we only got 5. Koldo got 2, one each in the Vuelta and the Giro, Aitor Galdos took one, Haimar grabbed 3rd overall in the Challenge Mallorca, and Igor placed 3rd overall in the Tour de Suisse. Though, we ended up with 11 fourth places. Koldo was once again dominant in this department, grabbing 6 of those. The award of most top 10 placings of course goes out to Koldo, who, including wins, ended up a staggering 24 times inside the top 10. Mikel, in what turned out to be an unlucky season for him, grabbed 2nd, placing 11 times among the ten first. If you're down for more number crunching, go to:

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Samu: "Armstrong return perfect for pal Alberto"

Speaking to El Correo yesterday, Samu spoke his mind on Armstrong's return to the peloton. "He's got the desire to race", he said. "It can be good for the sport as he's a showman. It's good for cycling. He'll draw large crowds. It's perfect. Alberto (Contador) tells me he's very calm. He's a close friend of mine, and he says he'll just wait and see what happens. It can be positive for Alberto, as it might take some pressure of him. Everyone will be watching Armstrong. Alberto needs tranquility, and Armstrong's return might give him that."

Friday, October 31, 2008

Aketza aiming high

Aketza Peña is, as previously reported, putting all his energy and focus into cyclo-cross this winter. Speaking to DEIA, he revealed his ambitions: "I haven't got any special objectives. I'll take it day by day, race by race. We'll see what happens. Though, I'd love to do well in the Campeonato de Euskadi and in the Spanish Championships. In addition, it would be a dream to ride in Igorre (Ibán's birth-place and the home of a World Cup cyclo-cross race). That's a top-level event and so close to home. The race in Asteasu is also attractive." All in all he'll take part in some 30 races, among them the Spiuk de Euskadi, the Copa Cántabra, the Copa de España,and of course the Campeonato de España. Asked about potentially taking part in the World Championships, Aketza pleaded for patience: "I need to gain experience first. There is quality opposition every Sunday. I haven't thought of the possibility of taking part in the Worlds but, if that was to happen, it would be a big bonus. Though, it's too early to talk about it". Aketza will likely come up against another former Euskaltel rider this year, Beñat Albizuri.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Galdeano educating

First things first: my apologies for failing to update the blog yesterday. I was simply too disgusted to write anything after watching Arsenal last night. I was so gutted all I wanted to do was to dig a hole and jump into it. That hole ended up being my bed, but, anyway, nothing was written. I'll put that right now.

Igor González de Galdeano will, from tomorrow off 'till the 8th of Novembre, take part in an education program for coaches. The Curso nacional de entrenadores, as it's called, will take place in Granada and will also see Euskaltel riders Mikel Astarloza and Andoni Lafuente take part. Galdeano has taken on the role of sports director for the coming season, and this program will make him able to do just that.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Salvador jumps ships

Euskaltel and Orbea doctor Eduardo Salvador González was today unveiled as Caisse d'Epargne's new team doctor. Salvador cut short his stay with the team this year, and is now taking on a job with one of Euskaltel's biggest rivals. Why he chose to leave his post at Euskaltel I don't know, maybe he was just looking for a new challenge.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Quote of the day

Miguel Madariaga puts the record straight (2004): "Euskaltel-Euskadi is much more than a sports team, it's an identity".

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Samu: "2009 Tour will be tough"

Like almost every other rider, Samu has given a rather dull assessment of the 2009 Tour de France parcours. The words "hard" and "difficult" are usually the most frequently used when riders are to describe the Tour, and Samu is no exception. Here's what he had to say: "ASO want to create passion and to put on a show, because the leader's jersey can change shoulders from day to day. It looks like a very hard Tour to me, and the last week will be for the stage-race specialists because of the tough Alps and the Mont Ventoux." He further stated that he hadn't planned next season yet, because it had been impossible due to all his post-Olympic engagements. Right now he just wanted to "rest and disconnect".

Friday, October 24, 2008

Euskaltel ready for Fiesta

No, not a party, the Fiesta de la Bici. Well, it's sort of a party. Hundreds of kids get to ride alongside their heroes in a 41,2-kilometre road race or in a 12,2-kilometre mountain bike race. The smallest kids will get to ride 7 kilometres. Most of the Euskaltel, Orbea and Naturgas Energía riders will be present, as well as Alberto Contador. Samu will also draw crowds to the event in Derio. The celebration will take place this coming Sunday.

No Giro in 2009 for Euskaltel

According to trustworthy Basque daily el Diario Vasco, the team will not compete in next year's Giro d'Italia. The reduction in riders from 26 to 22 will also mean a reduction in races. The Giro, along with the Tour Down Under, the Tour de Pologne, and of course the cancelled Deutschland Tour, will not not see Euskaltel at the start-line. Thank God is all I'm going to say. It was, really, about time the Giro got off the team's calendar.

Euskaltel ready

Euskaltel Euskadi will start next season with 22 riders. That's a fact, as the team's official website decleared yesterday. That effectively means that no more riders will be forced to head for the exit doors, but sadly it means that no one, except for Urtasun and Nieve of course, will be welcomed in to the fold. I'd been hoping that Gaztañaga, Castroviejo, Herrero, perhaps Izagirre and Intxausti, could make the move to join the team, but apparently they won't. I really can't see why guys like Castroviejo and Gorka Izagirre aren't joining, but I guess Galdeano & co. know what they're doing.

Iñigo inks new deal

Iñigo has finally put pen to paper on a new deal with the team. The negotiations had been dragging on for quite a while, but there were never any real fears that he'd leave the team. His new contract is only for a year though, but hopefully he'll stay beyond that as well.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Holding out for Guerrero

Jon Bru and Dioni Galparsoro have still not given up hope on finding a team for the 2009 season. Both riders came over from Kaiku two years ago, but now they're both left on the street after their deals with the team expired. They're holding out for Óscar Guerrero, their famous amiable sports director at Kaiku, to put together a team in time for next year. "He treated me well", Dioni said. "I know he's trying to put together a team, and if he's successful I'll be happy. But I haven't talked about it with him yet. I've been occupied by other things, and I have a representative who'll let me know if something happens." "Óscar is trying to put together something", Jon said, "but I don't know a lot about it. I'm hoping though. I spoke to my old team, Pecol, which is now called Liberty, but they had no place for me in the team." Guerrero has done the impossible earlier, so I'm hoping he can pull it off once again.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Quote of the day

Jesus Losa (Euskaltel's infamous team doctor up until 2004): "Ibán Mayo is not a pure climber". Good one, Jesus, good one.

Lander lands Etxe-Ondo job

Lander Aperribay has announced he's retired from the sport all together after his two-year stay with the team wasn't extended this year. The 26-year-old showed glimpses of what he was worth during his stay, but generally struggled to make a name for himself in the bigger races. He's now working in the commercial department of Euskaltel's top-end clothing apparel-supplier Etxe-Ondo, while also holding spinning-classes at two different gyms. Even though his stay at Euskaltel was rather short, he holds no grudges towards the team. "For me it was a fulfilment of a dream (to ride in Euskaltel's colours)," he said. "There were good and bad times, but generally it was good. My handicap was my age. I've always been behind schedule and that was a disadvantage. Being 26 or 22 in your second year as a pro is not the same thing. If you're 22 you're more relaxed. At 26 it's time to perform. I improved every year, but I had to improve faster if I was to stand a chance." He also dismissed talks of a comeback: "I don't want to start riding again. I've done my best. I've always wanted to improve, but the results simply didn't. I'll start working at Etxe-Ondo as of January the 1st. I'll ride my bike when I want to and when it doesn't rain. I'll be able to do all the things I couldn't do the last 15 years. Though, cycling was my hobby and it will always stay that way". Well said.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Beñat not happy

Beñat Albizuri did not get his stay with Euskaltel extended this year and is forced to look for another job. He isn't happy; rather the contrary. Speaking to GARA he said: "I'm grateful for the opportunity they (Euskaltel) gave me to become a professional rider. But once I joined the team they never valued my contribution. I've been a brave rider, I've done my best for the team, I've gotten into many breaks, I've helped Koldo out in the sprints. But still they haven't appreciated my work. Not every cyclist can win, but from the first to the last day I've done the dirty work, and I think I've done it well." Self-pitty isn't always beautiful, is it? But then again I kind of agree with him, a bit at least. I for one rated Beñat. I think he did well leading out Koldo, and he was good at getting into breaks. But then he was never going to win many races either, so I wasn't overly surprised when he didn't get an extension to his existing contract. As for the future, he's now looking to hit the big-time in cyclo-cross. "I've always wanted to do it (competing in the discipline). I'm a rider with good technique and spark, and people told me many years ago that I could do well in 'cross. Now I have the time and the opportunity, so I'll do my best. I started training this week, and I hope to get into good shape soon. I'm very motivated, and I know that now it's up to me. There won't be a team to stop me. My representative is looking for a team, but it's hard."

Odriozola: "I'd love to return"

In a surprising turn of events, newly-departed sports director Jon Odriozola has stated he'd love to one day come back to the team. Jon and Euskaltel parted ways after two years due to contractual disagreements. Both parties wanted to extend the cooperation, but it wasn't to be. "First I want to say that it's been two very positive years for me. I've learned a lot, I've reached my personal goals, the team have done well, and the team have obtained the personality and identity I wanted it to. As a Basque I'd love to stay on with the team, a team I completely identify myself with. It's been an honour. It's the ultimate dream for every Basque sports director to be able to direct his local team. I'd love to return one day. But sadly we couldn't reach an agreement. I'd like to keep the bussinesside of the negotiations secret". Odriozola also had praise for the fans: "I feel we have the best fans in the world. I've experienced the love of our fans, and that love can't be measure in money or anything else. It's been an enormous satisfaction. But I've ended up on the loosing side. I've left my team and got no job. It's been hard", he admitted. "Cycling is not a job. It's a passion, it's my life." Asked whether he would one day like to come back, he said: "Everything can happen in this world." I don't know what to make of this whole situation. Both Euskaltel and Jon wanted to extend the stay, but somehow it didn't work out. Reminds me of the Garate situation...

Antton thankful

Antton Luengo, the promising climber who put an end to his career at the tender age of 27 this summer, spoke to GARA yesterday about his Euskaltel experience. In the short interview he cuts a likeable figure and speaks of his gratefulness towards the team. "I'm very thankful. I've been with the team all my life and I've got no complaints. They were very understanding and helpful when it comes to my father's desease last winter. He had only five months left and I wanted to be alongside him. The team gave me the possibility to do that, and that's something I'm very grateful for. If you're a month off the bike it's hard to come back. I was off it for five months, without racing or training, so it was no point in continuing. I asked the team to terminate the contract because it was no use, I didn't reach the form I desired. There were moments when I thought I could come back, but I didn't make it. To be an Euskaltel rider was my lifelong dream. I've been with Euskaltel since I was a little boy, back in 1991. It seemed hard to me at the time to become a professional with the team, so the good aspects of cycling, not the bad, will stay with me". He didn't say what he's up to now, but no matter what it is I wish him the very best. He never got to fulfil his potential in cycling, so hopefully he can manage to do that in his new profession.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Samu happy to stay

Despite what the picture might indicate, he is. Prior to today's race he officially signed his new contract with the team, and afterwards spoke of his contentment: "The negotiations went well, so I'm pleased and satisfied. This has always been my team and, if I'm to be honest, I can't imagine myself in another team's jersey. It's an enormous pleasure for me to be able to stay on with this team. I feel valued, and the confidence Miguel (Madariaga) and Igor (González de Galdeano) have in me makes me happy. Confidence is vital. Now I'm already thinking of the new season and new objectives."

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Samu succumbs in Lombardia

Samu did his very best to end the season on a high today, but it just wasn't enough. Cunego went on to win the Giro di Lombardia, as has become his habit, with Samu eventually coming in 27th. But he wasn't as far off as it may sound. With Cunego having gone clear on the penultimate climb together with Failli and Horner, Samu sensed the danger and, with an outrageous decent, caught the trio in front. Cunego then went for broke right afterwards, and Samu was, for one reason or another, left to do the chasing mostly by himself. It proved to be too much for Samu who faded and came in alongside Evans and Rodríguez, among others. Iván crossed the line in 42nd place, Alán in 50th and Iñigo in 51st. The rest of the guys abandoned along the way, and are now, surely, looking forward to taking some time off the bike. Some well deserved time off the bike that is.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Gaztañaga looking for a team

Mikel Gaztañaga has not been offered a new contract with Agritubel and is therefore looking for a team for next year. Messrs. Galdeano and Madariaga, this is it. He's 28, he's fast, he's Basque, he can win races. This is what the team needs. Pablo Urtasun is a very important reinforcement no doubt. Together with Koldo, Iñaki and Aitor Galdos, he'll be terrific. Throw Gaztañaga in there and the team is suddenly a force to be reckoned with in the sprints. They will, for the first time, be able to make their own train in the sprints. Please pounce on this opportunity Euskaltel. Of course the money is a big factor. I'm afraid they simply can't afford him, as keeping Samu surely cost them a lot of money. But, if there's any money left, give it to Mikel. He's worth it.


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