RadioShack's Haimar Zubeldia: "I haven't forgotten how to win."
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Friday, January 28, 2011

RadioShack's Haimar Zubeldia: "I haven't forgotten how to win."

by Jered Gruber at 10:25 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Three-time Tour de France top ten finisher ready for more in 2011

RadioShack's Haimar Zubeldia, is set to embark on his fourteenth season as a professional cyclist in 2011. The Basque climber is currently en route to his RadioShack team's training camp on the Balearic chain's main island of Mallorca. Following the training camp, Zubeldia will toe the start line of a race for the first time in 2011 at the Challenge Mallorca.

"I will not be racing every day in Mallorca, because I want to enter into racing gradually. I'm just coming back from two weeks of training in Tenerife, where I was with my teammates Janez Brajkovic and Sergio Paulinho. I have really wanted to debut strong this year and give my best in every race I do."

Looking ahead at the year to come, Zubeldia is aiming once again at the Tour de France, a race that he has enjoyed considerable success in throughout his career. The 33 year old has finished in the top ten of the Tour three times: 5th in 2003, 8th in 2006, and 5th in 2007. He'll have a busy schedule before hitting the Grand Boucle in July though.

"After the Challenge Mallorca, my schedule will be similar to every other year: the Vuelta a Andalucia, the Clasica Almeria, Volta a Catalunya, the Vuelta al Pais Vasco, Amstel Gold Race, Fleche Wallonne, Liege-Bastogne-Liege. After that, I'll debut in the race that is one of the goals for our team, the Tour of California. Following the race, I will focus on preparing for the Tour, the big goal, through the Dauphine. Looking toward the end of the season, the Vuelta will be another goal."

Zubeldia is quick to note though, that he's not just going through the motions: "I want to take every opportunity to race for victory and show that I haven't forgotten how to win."

With that moment of youthful exuberance, last year's winner of the Tour de l'Ain admits that he has had a long career and can barely conceive of the time that has passed since turning professional back in 2008.  Zubeldia spent his first eleven seasons with the Euskaltel-Euskadi team before heading to Astana in 2009. Zubeldia followed most of his teammates over to the new RadioShack squad in 2010.

"Who would think that fourteen years ago, when I turned professional with Euskaltel-Euskadi, that I'd spend this many years at the highest level of cycling. The 14 years have passed at breakneck speed, and when I see some pictures of those days, I feel something like old…I do not know how many more years I will race, but for now, I will continue."

The rider who has finished 2nd and 4th at the Dauphine, 3rd at the Volta Catalunya, and has more top five finishes in difficult mountain stages than one would care to count, is perennially in contention. Perhaps 2011 will be the year when things go the way of Zubeldia. There's no question that the rider who hails from Usurbil has the talent and ability to win major bike races. With a team devoid of a dominant leader heading into 2011, Zubeldia should have any opportunity he could hope for if his form can follow along with his motivation.

 

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