|No Zubeldia. No Sanchez. No chance?|
The orange warriors at the team presentation in Palermo.
2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti
seem to have come to the Giro on a hiding to
nothing – without Haimar Zubeldia or Samuel Sanchez, they have no
conceivable prospect for a high overall finish; Igor Anton is also absent.
Their hopes rest on Koldo Fernandez, who has eked out a role as a handy
sprinter, but who is by no means a world-beater. One wonders whether the
“Orange Team”, still using hand-picked Basque talent, is over-extending
itself by riding three Grand Tours a year; certainly, their set-up is not as
conducive to the ProTour modus operandi as other teams. For fans, it
would be a shame to see a team who were (as recently as five years ago) so
successful and popular suffer another frustrating and anonymous Giro
d’Italia. That said, looking at things realistically, it will take a shock
result to avoid this outcome.
Euskaltel-Euskadi for the 91st Giro d'Italia
Koldo Fernandez is the most obvious prospect of a stage win, as
the team’s leading bunch sprinter. In the last two years, the former Spanish
junior champion has carved out at a niche for himself in the team; his best
win being a Tirreno-Adriatico stage. Even this year, the twenty-six year old
has already won a stage apiece in the Vueltas a Murcia and Castilla y Leon.
Having ridden the Giro for the past two years and taken several top-10
placings in the sprints, a top-three stage finish is a logical target.
Giro Stage 1 team time trial: 20th for the Euskaltel/Euskadi squad in
a time of 27:49; 1:17 of the pace of the winner. Photo ©
2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti
With it being a team rich in Basque talent, there are unsurprisingly some
handy climbers. Top of the list is Inigo Landaluze, who won the 2005
Dauphiné Libéré, but was then suspended for recording an abnormally high
testosterone level in that very race. Slowly coming back to form, he could
be dangerous in the hills, though even a top-25 finish on the GC would be a
2007 Tour de France Stage 19: Euskatel's Inigo Landaluze Launches from the
start house, 41rst in the G.C..
Photo © www.benrossphotography.com
Dionisio Galparsoro is also a dependable rider, good for a few
attacks both on the flat and in the mountains.
Like Fernandez, Aitor Galdos has a decent finishing kick, though
his abilities in the hills are also good: third at the GP Llodio is his best
result this season. The former Panaria man rode well in the Ardennes
Classics, so look out for him in the first ten days and maybe one or two
A Euskaltel rider? Winning a prologue? For a while it looked like Markel
Irizar would shock the favourites and take the Paris-Nice prologue this
spring, but Thor Hushovd knocked him into second spot. Still, the team’s
best finisher from last year (not that 68th overall is much to shout about)
has shown good form in the opening stages and will be searching for a
top-ten finish in one of the time-trials, as well as an improved overall
The rest of the nine-man lineup – Agirre, Aperribay, Perez and Velasco –
will be hoping to get into a few attacks and make it to Milano, gaining more
precious experience in the process.
Discuss this race and the sport with other cycling fans from around the world
on the Daily Peloton.com Forums
and Chat Room. Sponsor
the daily peloton & advertise your product or service to cyclists and cycling