Euskaltel-Euskadi taking shape for 2011 and beyond
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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Euskaltel-Euskadi taking shape for 2011 and beyond

by Jered Gruber at 6:24 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Basque team loses Intxausti, but keeps trio of strong riders and eyes new talent

The loss of Benat Intxausti will be a significant one for Sanchez and the rest of the orange army, but it wasn't all bad news for Euskaltel. Egoi Martinez re-signed with the Basque squad for another two seasons. 

Martinez, a powerful climber and a vital helper for Sammy Sanchez en route to his 4th place finish in Paris this year, began his career with Euskaltel in 2002 as a stagiaire with the team. He soon turned professional with the team and enjoyed significant growth to become a vital mountain domestique. Discovery Channel picked up the powerful helper for two seasons, but in the end, Martinez bowed to the Siren call of his homeland and returned.

"The truth is I am very happy for this extension. I feel valued and loved in the team and that is very important. It is the group that gave me the opportunity to debut as  a professional. I have only good words for Euskaltel Euskadi, and I feel very connected with the team, so this renewal is a great joy."

The 32 year old has taken numerous climber's jerseys throughout his career: including this year's Dauphine, the 2008 Vuelta al Pais Vasco, and the 2006 Vuelta. Martinez can also lay claim to a number of solid results including a stage of the Vuelta in 2006, the overall of the Tour de l'Avenir in 2003, and overall 9th and 12th place finishes at the Vuelta in 2008 and 2006 respectively. While Martinez has enjoyed personal success, his greatest role has been that of the super domestique - a role which he fills impressively, and one that he doesn't mind one bit.

"With the continuity of Samuel Sanchez, Igor Anton, and Romain Sicard, I feel that my renewal is more logical for the style of rider that I am. I am a team rider, and with Samuel, Igor, and Romain on the team, I will have captains to work and give my best for."

Team manager and former ONCE leader, Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano is pleased to see Martinez return to the team of Miguel Madariaga. 

"The continuation of Egoi was very important for the team. He is a rider with great experience, intelligence, and quality. He always races at a high level and has been a fixture in the major objectives of the team at the Tour de France, Tour of the Basque Country, and the Vuelta a Espana. I have great confidence in his work, and it is great news that we will have his services until 2012," remarked Galdeano to Spanish news source Marca.

With the signings of first Romain Sicard and Igor Anton, followed closely by Egoi Martinez, Euskaltel can count some serious firepower returning to its ranks. The lure of the Basque Country's own team seems very powerful, so much so that the reigning U23 World Champion, Sicard, turned down lucrative offers from a number of other French teams to stay loyal to the men in orange. According to team manager, Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano, Sicard will form a vital part of the future of Euskaltel.

"This is a rider who has received significant offers from various French teams, but he has taken the challenge of building his career with us. He renewed for four years, and that is something that strengthens us enormously."

The Basque team, still trying to figure out how to deal with a loss of substantial money heading into 2011, continues to search for new talent. Caisse d'Epargne's Imanol Erviti, has been listed as a possibility for Galdeano's team, but just as loyalty is a big part of Euskaltely, so it is with Eusebio Unzue's team.

Former Tour de France contender, Galdeano, commented to Biciciclismo on the 27 year old Erviti: "He is an interesting racer, but like a lot of us, he is very faithful to his team, and therefore to Eusebio Unzue."

However, Unzue's team looks to be in difficulty. There has been talk of a new sponsor, but as of yet, no sponsor has been named, and the team appears to be slowly tearing at the edges. While none of the top names have left yet, they're lining up their possibilities in case the bad news comes. The team's sprinter, Jose Joaquin Rojas, looks to be headed to one of three teams, most likely Garmin. Recent Clasica San Sebastian winner and 11th overall at the Tour de France, Luis Leon Sanchez, has also been linked with a move from Unzue's team. In Sanchez's case, the team in question appears to be Rabobank, and it looks highly likely that he's headed to Holland in 2011. 

With the team's outlook of gloom, Erviti could be another great pick up for Galdeano's team, and the rider from Navarre wouldn't have to look all too far away to find a new home - it's less than 100 kilometers from Erviti's hometown of Pamplona to the Basque Country.


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