Amets Txurruka: “Never throw in the towel, you have to fight everyday”
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Saturday, January 19, 2013

Amets Txurruka: “Never throw in the towel, you have to fight everyday”

by Kyle Moore at 12:02 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews
 
“I am among those who prefer to attack from afar….the points system does not support this”

Amets TxurrukaSmall in stature but big in chutzpah, Amets Txurruka will soon make his debut for Spanish continental squad Caja Rural, to which he transferred after spending six years with Euskaltel-Euskadi.

In a difficult free agent market, Txurruka was fortunate to find a ride with any squad, after Euskaltel-Euskadi chose not to bring back the Basque rider, due to the fact that he had scored zero WorldTour points. As one of the bigger names to get the axe, with Euskaltel aiming to remain at cycling’s top level and needing WorldTour points to do it, Txurruka was outspoken in his opposition to the system.

Txurruka not only took exception to the current points system, which rewards riders only for performing well at certain races, but the Basque rider was also disappointed in Euskaltel’s decision to bring in non-Basque riders. They salvaged Russian Alexander Serebryakov and Slovenian Jure Kocjan from Team Type 1-Sanofi, and they also picked up German André Schulze.

Txurruka and Ivan Velasco were both squeezed out, and both took up with Caja Rural. For Txurruka, a blistering start to his career with Euskaltel-Euskadi was soon derailed by crashes and injuries.

The little Basque rider lit up his first Tour de France, in 2007, wearing the white jersey to Paris (with young riders Alberto Contador and Mauricio Soler ahead of him in other jerseys) and accepting the final most combative prize on the podium in Paris. He finished the Tour in 2008 and grabbed second place on stage 13 in 2009, the stage taken by Heinrich Haussler. But a later crash forced him to drop out, after missing the time cut on stage 19.

Since then, Txurruka has crashed out of the Tour in each of the past three years, with a broken collarbone on all three occasions. When he has completed races, it has always been in service of Euskaltel-Euskadi captains Samuel Sanchez, Igor Anton, and Mikel Nieve.

In an interview posted on the Caja Rural website, Txurruka left thoughtful comments on his early career, his attacking style, and his exit from Euskaltel.

On spending 2006 with Barloworld and 2007 with Euskaltel:

“Igor Astarloa and Peio Arreitunandia were there [at Barloworld], and I learned a lot from them. I owe them everything, and I would not trade that year for anything! They taught me how to train, and how to take care of myself. I went through my first professional races quietly, and I was impressed with the professional peloton, but thanks to them, I adapted to it quickly. The relationship with all my team-mates was tremendous. It was a very nice year.

“Álvaro González de Galdeano got my phone number and told me Igor (Gonzalez de Galdeano) would call me. In a few days he called and we got together to talk. It was nice to come to the home team, although I was very happy at Barloworld, to be truthful. [Getting selected to the 2007 Tour] was a surprise to me. In November, they had already told me that they wanted me to go to the Tour, and I did not believe it, it seemed excessive. When the time came, and I was at the start, it was amazing. Every day was a dream come true. I really enjoyed that Tour.

“At the time, I wasn’t thinking about [the most combative prize]. I focused on doing my job and giving all I could give everyday. At the end, it was a great prize, and I value it more everyday as it gets further into the past.”

On racing in today’s peloton and recent struggles:

“It is true that everything is getting more and more calculated. It is very hard to break into that, and many people prefer to just play it safe and try to do the best job they can for the team goal. I am among those who prefer to take risks from afar, I know, and it is my way of being. But the points system does not support this.

“There have been difficult situations where everything has gone wrong, and it seems I have chained them together one after another, and they have been in critical moments when it all gets shot to hell. But as in life itself, you must address them and move forward, and that’s what makes you stronger. Once you overcome the bad times, you appreciate the sweet moments even more.”

On his exit from Euskaltel-Euskadi:

“I was surprised. I didn’t expect it. I felt like I had communicated with them, and there was never a sign that it would happen. It happened over a short phone call, and it was all over. It was quite cold and strange. I never had any problems with anyone, it was just over and done overnight.

On the upcoming season with Caja Rural:

We are excited to have a good campaign. We are a good team and we are eager. I’d like to get back to my normal level, and demonstrate how far I can go without any injuries or anything that hampers me. Clearly I would be thrilled [to take a first victory] at home, but anywhere would be good.

[I would say to young cyclists], ‘never throw in the towel.’ You have to fight everyday, and you will eventually find proof that you can achieve a lot!”

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