By Monika Prell
Euskaltel – Euskadi will participate as one of two ProTour teams in the 52nd Vuelta a Asturias (May 3 to 7). The Basque team will send the local Samuel Sánchez as well as Gorka Verdugo, Aitor Hernández, Antton Luengo, Jon Bru, Javier Aramendia, Beñat Albizuri and Andoni Lafuente, under the direction of the team manager Miguel Madariaga.
Even if the Asturian fans would like to see an overall victory by their hero, Samuel Sánchez commented to Cyclingnews: "I will just try to win the individual time trial [on Sunday], nothing else." The 30-year-old, who has the Tour de France and the Olympic Games as objectives this year, will "sum up kilometers in my training for the Tour. I want to reach in the best form at the Tour." Following the Vuelta a Asturias, he will ride the Volta a Catalunya and the Dauphiné Libéré in preparation for the Tour.
Team manager Miguel Madariaga agreed with Sánchez' plan . In a talk with Cyclingnews, he admitted, "We called Samuel because he is the local rider, and because the other riders are in the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de Romandie. He is preparing the Tour de France, so the Vuelta a Asturias is not a real objective for him. Nevertheless, he will be our leader, even if he won't be able to win the overall classification." Madariaga also described the team's objectives: "We will try to do a good Vuelta [a Asturias], winning a stage and getting good form on our way to the Tour de France."
Gorka Verdugo and Aitor Hernández will ride their first race after Paris Nice. Verdugo did well in the March event, finishing 7th overall, while Hernández had to abandon after a crash. The 26-year-old struggled afterwards with pain in his right knee, a fact that did not allow him to train normally. Antton Luengo is a candidate to win in the mountain stages while Jon Bru also go after a stage victory. The young Javier Aramendia, Beñat Albizuri and Andoni Lafuente will support their leaders in the mountains.