Anton and notable first timers highlight Euskaltel-Euskadi Tour roster
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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Anton and notable first timers highlight Euskaltel-Euskadi Tour roster

by Kyle Moore at 4:19 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
Nieve, Izagirre, Sicard will look to feature as Sanchez stays home

Igor AntonEuskaltel-Euskadi will take on the Tour de France without unquestioned leader Samuel Sanchez, who is sitting out the 100th edition after targeting the Giro d’Italia. Without their top five general classification threat, the Basque squad will be able to set loose alternative overall threats Igor Anton and Mikel Nieve.

Both Anton and Nieve have both performed well in the Giro and the Vuelta a España, and both have stage wins to show it. The Basque climbers could factor in to the GC in the Tour, and they have a variety of veterans and youthful inexperience around them as support.

Jon Izagirre makes his Tour debut for Euskaltel-Euskadi, and the former Giro stage winner is rounding into some very good form. Izagirre started the year with a fourth place finish overall in the Tour Down Under, and has shown some good signs recently as well. He was eleventh in the final uphill time trial in the Tour de Suisse, and then followed that up with a fourth place in the Spanish time trial championship, and a runner up spot in the Spanish road race.

Along with Izagirre, the lone Frenchman on the Basque team, Romain Sicard, gets his first shot at the Tour. Sicard is still trying to reach the standard once thought of him, after he won the U23 world championship and the Tour de l’Avenir in 2009.

Along with Nieve, Izagirre, and Sicard, Juan Jose Lobato is the fourth Euskaltel-Euskadi rider competing in his first Tour de France. Mikel Astarloza is the squad’s most experienced rider, capable of doing well for himself in the general classification, but likely expected to support the ambitions of Anton and Nieve.

But rather than expecting a high place overall, team director Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano is hoping his team can grab a stage victory. “We went with a very competitive team. Anton and Nieve are two climbers with wins in the Giro and the Vuelta. The Tour is unlike any other race, and it will be very complicated, but I hope they have a chance to shine,” Gonzalez de Galdeano stated.

Gorka Izagirre, Juanjo Oroz, and Rubén Pérez round out the orange squad.

“The rest of the group are also very motivated,” Gonzalez de Galdeano went on. “They know they will have their opportunities, and we are looking forward to seeing them race.”

In spite of the fact that it is a Basque squad competing in France’s biggest party, the Euskaltel-Euskadi director has been around long enough to understand the significance of the event. He is also looking forward to the often rabid support his team gets from fans in the high mountains.

“This is the most important race. It’s a showcase with the whole world watching,” he added. “Our riders are aware of this. I’m sure that they will give the maximum, and that our fans will feel respected by our effort and proud of our performance.

“The stages in the Pyrenees will be very special. It is often in this area that you have large concentrations of the ‘Orange Tide,’ which has become a classic part of the Tour. We look forward to the support, which is very important to us.”

Euskaltel-Euskadi for the Tour de France:
Igor Anton, Mikel Astarloza, Gorka Izagirre, Jon Izagirre, Juan Jose Lobato, Mikel Nieve, Juanjo Oroz, Rubén Pérez, Romain Sicard


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