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Euskaltel plan to line up all of its climbing stars in what appears one last attempt to save the team

Photo: Sirotti








29.07.2013 @ 20:16 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Euskaltel is in desperate search for a new sponsor but plan to line up a very strong team for their home grand tour, the Vuelta a Espana, in what seems to be one final attempt to attract a new backer. The team's three stars Samuel Sanchez, Igor Anton and Mikel Nieve have all been included on the 12-rider long list from which the final 9-rider selection will be chosen.


During the Tour de France, Euskaltel made it known that the team faced extinction if a new sponsor will not be found to replace the Basque telecommunications company. Yesterday rumours surfaced that the team management has already made the definitive decision to close down the team at the end of the season.


The team had a less successful Giro d'Italia where the team's main star Samuel Sanchez failed to make the expected impression on the GC and despite his strong showing at the Dauphiné where he won a stage, the team faced an uphill battle to gain attention at the Tour de France. Mikel Nieve had an impressive ride in most of the mountain stages and even finished third on the Mont Ventoux but the hoped-for stage win escaped the team.


According to, the team has now selected a very strong 12-rider long list for the Vuelta a Espana which could provide the team one final opportunity to turn things around. The list is spearheaded by the team's big three stars Sanchez, Nieve and Igor Anton who could line up together at a grand tour for the first time ever.


Sanchez had always planned to make the Giro his main priority this season and would skip the Tour to recover for a strong autumn showing in which the world championships should form the backbone. While his participation still hasn't been confirmed, he is likely to line up in an attempt to better his 2nd place from 2009.


Igor Anton famously crashed out of the race in 2010 while wearing the leader's jersey but hasn't found back that strength since. He recently had a disappointing Tour in which he failed to make much of an impression.


Nieve broke through in his home grand tour in 2010 when his win in the queen stage made up for Anton's bad lack a few days earlier. Since then he has also taken a win in the queen stage of the 2011 Giro d'Italia and has finished in the top 10 in both the Giro and the Vuelta.


The talented Mikel Landa who rode a very strong Clasica San Sebastian last Saturday, and Gorka Izagirre who had to abandon the Tour due to sickness, form a very strong duo of young riders for the mountains while Mikel Astarloza, Egoi Martinez and Gorka Verdugo are all experienced grand tour veterans who all excel in the mountains. Jorge Azanza was a valuable support for Sanchez in the Giro while Pablo Urtasun could provide the team with some options in the sprints. The long list is completed by the always reliable Juan Jose Oroz and young Peio Bilbao who could make his grand tour debut.


The Vuelta starts on August 24 with a team time trial in Galicia.


Euskaltel long list for the Vuelta:

Samuel Sanchez, Igor Anton, Mikel Nieve, Mikel Astarloza, Gorka Verdugo, Juan Jose Oroz, Jorge Azanza, Gorka Izagirre, Mikel Landa, Pablo Urtasun, Peio Pilbabo and Egoi Martinez



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