After his resounding win in the Dauphiné Libéré, the name Iñigo Landaluze is on the lips of many a Tour observer. Stars of Euskaltel-Euskadi's squad, Iban Mayo and Haimar Zubeldia, appear to have top-quality climbing company in this 28-year-old from Getxo. He is part of the 100% Basque outfit looking to demonstrate its power throughout the three weeks of the Tour de France, and Cyclingnews’ Hernan Alvarez Macias caught up with the rider likely to come through as a dark horse at this year's edition.
It was surprising to see a little-known rider beating giants of the mountains such as Phonak's Santiago Botero or Gerolsteiner's Levi Leipheimer on the last day of Dauphiné in Sallanches. The Tour’s king, Lance Armstrong (Discovery Channel) ended up fourth. It was his first and only race victory, but it wasn't a minor championship win, as many of the riders at this year's Tour were there on the French Alps, trailing the Orange crusader.
Cyclingnews: How was that triumph in Dauphiné Libéré?
Iñigo Landaluze: I got in a breakaway and we made a gap. It was a mountain stage, a tough stage; we made the gap and I was able to maintain that lead over the final days.
CN: It was a bit unexpected for you, right?
IL: Yes, it was unexpected. The truth is that I didn't go to that race with the intention of fighting for the general victory; I went with the intention of fighting for the stage so I got in a breakaway. I'm neither a time trial specialist nor a climber. I'm a rider for the medium-mountain stages, not the high-mountain stages. It followed that pattern and I became the leader - I was feeling very good and was able to stay with the leaders.
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