Haimar Zubeldia aiming high at the Vuelta a España
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Saturday, August 20, 2011

Haimar Zubeldia aiming high at the Vuelta a España

by Xylon van Eyck at 5:58 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Vuelta a España
Spaniard aiming to improve on strong Tour de France and San Sebastian

Haimar ZubeldiaTeam RadioShack have changed their objectives for the Vuelta a España after a disappointing Tour de France that saw three of their four leaders crash out of the race. The team had originally short-listed sprinters Robbie Hunter and Robbie McEwen for the Spanish race but will now start with Jani Brajkovic and Andreas Klöden as leaders.

However, Klöden made it clear this week that he’s not sure he’ll contend for the overall yet and will decide on the outcome as the race goes on. The German has been hampered by back problems since the Tour de France crash and is hoping it won’t affect his performance in the year’s last Grand Tour.

RadioShack’s highest placed rider in the Tour de France turned out to be Haimar Zubeldia, who finished inside the top twenty. The Spaniard is currently in his fourteenth year as a professional and has made his intentions clear for his national Tour.

“The top ten is the first objective…from the start that is what I’ll aim for, then see if a stage victory is within reach. I have a good feeling and I'm motivated after the Tour and San Sebastian. In principle, I will seek the general classification, but I do not know where I'll be and if I have to rethink the objectives,” he said in an interview with Biciciclismo.

Zubeldia admits it’s up to team manager Johan Bruyneel and the other directors to make leadership decisions but remembers the Tour de France where he had to take up the reigns after the team’s bad luck. He eventually finished the race in sixteenth place.
“I can’t remember having such bad luck. Having four leaders and three abandoned because of falls and [Levi] Leipheimer finishing hurt. Hopefully it will make for good luck in the Vuelta.

“We're excited, we have a strong team and we want to be protagonists. The podium would be extraordinary for the team. We’ve had a good season with many victories and especially important ones in California and Utah, but, yes, we lack results in the Grand Tours.”

Zubeldia’s contract with the American team runs out at the end of this year and even though he has yet to renew with them, he believes he will do so in due course. “The two parties are in agreement and there’s only some minor things that need to be sorted out. If nothing strange happens, I will continue in the team for two more years.”

After the Vuelta, the 34 year old plans to round out another successful season at the inaugural Tour of Beijing and the Tour of Lombardy.


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