Euskaltel-Euskadi will line up at this year's Tour de France with the primary aim of a stage win over the three-week race and will field two riders capable of riding high into the overall classification. Igor Antón and Mikel Nieve, who both lay claim to Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España stage wins have the potential to finish inside the top-ten and without having to play support to Samuel Sánchez, they will have the freedom to fly when the race hits the mountains.
Antón and Nieve have been named for dual leadership with both having finished inside the top-ten at the Giro and Vuelta in the past. Antón will make his return to the Tour after three-year break while Nieve is set to make his French debut this weekend on the island of Corsica. The remaining roster has been filled with a "motivated" bunch who will seek opportunities throughout the 3,479km.
"Our objective is for a stage win. We will arrive with a very competitive team with Anton and Nieve as our dedicated climbers - with wins in the Vuelta and Giro. The Tour is unlike any other race riders will do in their careers. It will be complicated but I hope they have a chance to shine. The rest of the group is very motivated and they know they will have their opportunity," said team manager Igor González de Galdeano before calling for a minute's silence in the wake of the death of soigneur Rufino Murguía's who was unable to overcome injuries sustained in a bus crash en route to the Spanish Road Championships.
With the Tour de France offering the greatest exposure of any race in the season Galdeano is confident his squad will rise to the occasion. Stage wins have been few and far between for Euskaltel with Sanchez's stage win in 2011 marking the end of a long spell without 'official' success at the Grand Boucle - after Mikel Astarloza's Stage 16 win in 2009 was stripped following a positive test for EPO. With the team hoping to attract more funds for the coming seasons, the team manager is hopeful the selected riders can deliver.
"[The Tour] is the most important race, it is a showcase to the whole world. Our riders are aware of this and I am sure they will give the maximum, our fans will feel represented in our efforts and be proud of our performance."
Euskaltel-Euskadi for the 100th edition of the Tour de France: Igor Antón, Mikel Astarloza, Gorka Izaguirre, Ion Izaguirre, Juan José Lobato, Mikel Nieve, Juanjo Oroz, Rubén Pérez and Romain Sicard.