“The top ten in the Vuelta and the other results [at the Ardennes Classics], I know that I can do better,” he told Cycling News HD. “I am confident that I can achieve it. The Vuelta this year was at a very high level, because of the contenders. I am convinced I can better it.”
Anton finished ninth in the final Grand Tour of the season. His best result came in 2007 when he finished in eighth, while his team-mate Samuel Sánchez took third.
Some of Antón’s best and worst moments have come at the hands of the Vuelta. In 2011 he won an emotional stage as the race returned to the Basque country for the first time in 33 years. The season before he was leading, eventual leader, Vincenzo Nibali by 45 seconds when he crashed out on a flat section of road. “I love the Vuelta it is a race that has given me a lot,” he said. “Without doubt a podium in the Vuelta a España is possible. I am aware that it is very difficult, but if I have good form then I can fight for it.”
Team manager Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano has already confirmed that Sánchez will lead the Basque outfit at the Giro d’Italia. The remaining two Grand Tours are up for grabs, but Gonzalez de Galdeano has hinted Antón could be heading to the Tour. The team are awaiting the announcement of the Vuelta route on 12 January, before they make firm decisions on the calendar.
Traditionally a 100% Basque team, Euskaltel-Euskadi decided to open their door’s to non-Basque riders for the first time in an attempt to stay at cycling's top level. Several former and outgoing riders have been critical of the change, but Antón doesn’t believe it has changed the heart of the team.
“At the base we are still home people,” said the 29-year-old “But we had to strengthen our points to be more competitive. I know that the team will continue working lake always with the Basque home values.
“I can understand the people who say that they don’t agree with the changes, but they were necessary to be able to ensure the name Euskaltel-Euskadi is en the best races. We have time for work and we must do it with hope that all of our fans will be so proud, like always, of their home team.”
For the full interview with Igor Antón download Issue 36 of Cycling News HD. This week’s issue continues to look at the season ahead with an in-depth look at WorldTour teams Euskaltel, Movistar, RadioShack and AG2R. With interviews from RadioShack tour hopeful Andy Schleck and Ag2R’s new signing, Lithuanian national champion, Gediminas Bagdonas. We also take a look at Roman Kreuziger’s move to Saxo-Tinkoff and round-up the week’s biggest news.
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