By Monika Prell
After a remarkable Tour de France, in which he finished fifth, Haimar Zubeldia will compete the Vuelta a España, but under other conditions. While the Euskaltel-Euskadi rider was the team's leader in the Tour de France, in the Vuelta he will work for Samuel Sánchez.
"The leader of the team is Samuel, who has prepared specifically for the Vuelta," said Zubeldia in an interview with Dario Vasco. "He has already showed last year that he is a rider who is able to have great form in September. In [the Vuelta a] Burgos, he had a good performance, and he surely will be in front. Generally, we will try to maintain the same line the team maintains during the rest of the year. We intend to be in breakaways. The season still is not finished."
After the Tour de France and the Clásica San Sebastián, Zubeldia's programme to prepare for the Vuelta was clearly spelled out. "The second week of August was one-half of a rest period. In the third week I trained really hard, and the fourth week was dedicated to recuperation." He trained together with the team-mates Markel Irizar and Andoni Aranaga in the Pyrenees.
Zubeldia sees the Lagos de Covadonga stage as likely to be decisive in the general classification. "In Asturias, we will see who is in form to win and who is not. The race, in general, seems very open to me, even if you are well prepared at the start, because Lagos will be important. Later on, there are many mountains, with the Cerler, Ordino and Abantos."
Zubeldia outlined the strategy within his team. "[Iñigo] Landaluze will aim for a stage victory. [Iñaki] Isasi is an important man for the team. About Igor Antón, we will have to see how he recuperated from the Tour. I think that you have to leave him alone. Aitor Hernández, Alan Pérez, Koldo Fernández, Dionisio Galparsoro are riders who are really motivated. We will be a team that will show itself. We will fight and we aim for doing our best."