The Euskaltel-Euskadi yesterday gave a name and color to the squad with which it will compete from Monday in Itzulia. The squad director, Jorge Azanza, has chosen Mikel Bizkarra, Joan Bou, Carlos Canal, Asier Etxeberria, Unai Iribar, Txomin Juaristi and Gotzon Martín. And, with the Guggenheim as a framework, the Basque team also presented the shirt with which the orange tide will wear, the incombustible fans of this sports project that was born in 1994 with Miguel Madariaga, who moved away from the elite in 2013 and who has returned with the goal of settling back on top of the world.
Euskaltel’s sponsorship contract with the cycling team ends this season. But there is a will to maintain the link, as Xabier Iturbe, president of the telephone company, stressed: «We are proud of everything this team represents. It’s like the Basque team in competitions around the world. There was a day when we reached the maximum and now little by little we are growing to try to return to where we were.
For Euskaltel-Euskadi, Itzulia is “our ‘txiki Tour'”, highlighted Jon Ander de las Fuentes, director of Euskaltel and corporate director of the MásMóvil group. “It is the great objective of the season. It is the home race, with the best riders in the world and in the year in which we will experience the privilege of feeling the Tour at home. You have to take advantage of that momentum », he added. The recovery of the orange jersey, so well known in the gutters of the Grande Boucle, is framed in this line. During this edition of the Tour of the Basque Country there will be distribution points at the start points, finish lines and some ports.
Other classification system
The Basque round is the great race of the year for Euskaltel after not receiving the invitation to the next Tour of Spain. Without access to that great event, the Basque team will have to wait until 2024 to fight again for a place in the race organized by Unipublic. The rules imposed by the International Cycling Union (UCI) have also changed. To enter the fight for an invitation, the second category squads will have to be among the 50 best in the world by 2024. That limit will be lowered: a year later it will be between 40 and then between 30.
For that, the lower level teams will have to be reinforced. Grow. It’s the only way to compete for one of those spots on the elite calendar. Euskaltel counts on the Basque academy as a source of talent and has the support of a loyal fan base. In the presentation that took place yesterday at the Guggenheim, the squad that will go to Itzulia (from April 3 to 8) put on the new orange tide shirt. With this uniform, many fans will give color to the gutters of the Basque round next week and also between July 1 and 3, in the three Basque stages of the Tour de France.
Before, from this Monday, the Euskaltel-Euskadi will face the great teams of the UCI WorldTour in Itzulia, which will start with the stage between Vitoria and Labastida. «We are going to compete with a compensated squad. We know that it is one of the most difficult races to shine, but with us the fight is guaranteed”, encouraged Jorge Azanza.