Euskaltel-Euskadi pulling out all the stops in Vuelta a España
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Monday, August 19, 2013

Euskaltel-Euskadi pulling out all the stops in Vuelta a España

by Kyle Moore at 11:39 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Vuelta a España
 
Sanchez backed by Nieve, Anton, Martinez and Landa in possibly its last grand tour

Samuel SanchezEuskaltel-Euskadi is sending a squad to the Vuelta a España that could contend for stage victories, as well as the overall title, when the race begins on Saturday. Having skipped the Tour de France, Samuel Sanchez is back as the feature rider for the Basque squad, and Sanchez will have most of his team’s primary talents at his disposal as he tries for the overall.

Backing up Sanchez will be Euskaltel-Euskadi’s most consistent grand tour contender of late, in former Vuelta stage winner Mikel Nieve. The little Basque climber is coming off of a 12th place finish overall in his first Tour de France. He then took fourth in Clasica San Sebastian, but hasn’t raced since the Spanish classic at the end of July.

Also joining the squad will be former red jersey wearer Igor Anton, who himself finished 23rd in the Tour.

“We have a very complete team for the Vuelta,” said team director Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano. “We have a leader who already knows what it’s like to be on the podium in a grand tour, and he is accompanied by a group of cyclists who have experience with this type of test. Anton and Nieve are two climbers with important victories. Egoi Martinez, Gorka Verdugo, and Jorge Azanza have many years of experience working for Samuel. Pablo Urtasun and Juanjo Oroz will protect us from the wind on the flatter stages. And finally, you have Mikel Landa, who knows this race from having done it in 2012, and we hope he can take another step in his progression in this edition.”

Landa, who will transfer to Astana at the end of the season, has shown good form of late. He was sixth in Clasica San Sebastian, and sixth overall in the Vuelta a Burgos.

“We want to work for our leader and be ambitious,” the Euskaltel-Euskadi director continued. “The goal is to be in the struggle to win the Vuelta. Winning or not, the list of candidates who will be important riders is long, with people like Nibali, Valverde, and Rodriguez. But our challenge has to be to try to fight until the end.

“Samuel already knows what it’s like to fight to win a Vuelta – in 2009 he came up short by less than a minute. We have to show our best face and compete to the maximum.”

Along with Sanchez for the overall, with such a strong roster, Euskaltel-Euskadi figures to be in the mix for stage wins in many of the tougher finishes – and there are many of them. “The route of this year’s Vuelta will favour the hungry cyclist who can defend himself well in all areas,” Gonzalez de Galdeano added. “There are many finishes at altitude, including a few explosive finales, and there is also the time trial that is nearly 40 kilometres. From the first day the terrain is demanding, and in Galicia there could be small differences starting even in the first week. I think it will be a very exciting Vuelta.”

With its longtime sponsors choosing to leave the sport, Euskaltel-Euskadi could well be competing in its last grand tour. Although the Spanish newspaper Deia reports that the team has spoken with Oleg Tinkoff as a possible new backer to the squad.

Any involvement with Tinkoff would result in a completely different look for the Basque team, and while no agreements have been finalized, Tinkoff is reportedly scheduled to visit the team during the Vuelta’s first week.

Gonzalez de Galdeano kept his comments general in this regard.

“We are looking for a new sponsor and we’re making a great effort in this direction,” he concluded. “We face a major challenge and some uncertainty, but we are professionals, and as always, we will give maximum effort to achieve our objectives. That is what this jersey deserves.”

Euskaltel-Euskadi for the Vuelta a España:
Igor Anton, Jorge Azanza, Mikel Landa, Egoi Martinez, Mikel Nieve, Juanjo Oroz, Samuel Sanchez, Pablo Urtasun, Gorka Verdugo

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