By Monika Prell
The Euskaltel-Euskadi Tour de France roster is coming together slowly. Seven cyclists are already on the list: Haimar Zubeldia, Igor Antón, Mikel Astarloza, Iñigo Landaluze, Gorka Verdugo, Rubén Pérez and Amets Txurruka. Three riders are fighting for their chance at the two last spots: Iñaki Isasi, Jorge Azanza, and Juanjo Oroz. Aitor Galdos will definitely not participate, after he abandoned the Vuelta a Suiza on Sunday due to stomach aches.
Igor González de Galdeano, the technical secretary of Euskaltel-Euskadi, would like to see Isasi in the Tour, even after he broke his collarbone twice already this season.
"If he is fine, I will choose him," said González de Galdeano according to Gara. "By reason of his experience, I prefer Isasi, even if he is not in top shape, to a rider who is very well but never rode the Tour." Azanza turned professional in 2005 and Oroz in 2006, both with the team Kaiku. Azanza broke his collarbone in the last stage of the Vuelta al País Vasco, and Euskaltel signed Oroz in May of 2007, after he showed a good effort in the Vuelta a Asturias, where he competed for his then-team Orbea-Oreka, a Professional Continental team.
González de Galdeano sees the team's preparation positively. "Later on, the race will show everybody his place, but the team will begin the race very well, without doubt." His plan is to let the cyclists train at home during the two weeks until the start of the Tour, "because the Tour is very stressful. Before the Dauphiné, the riders trained already in the Pyrenees, on the most important stages."
The team's goal is "winning a stage. It'd be best to win in the Pyrenees, at home, but every stage win would be welcome. We hope also that Haimar Zubeldia will be amongst the best in the general classification, because for the team it's important to have a man in front."