By Monika Prell
Egoi Martínez left Euskaltel-Euskadi at the end of 2005 for destination team Discovery Channel, where he showed a great performance during the last two years. Amongst other races, he won the eleventh stage and the mountain classification of the Vuelta a España in 2006.
Now, after the announcement of the retirement of the sponsor at the end of 2007, the 29 year-old has to look for a new team, and he could return to his former team. During this year's Tour de France, Miguel Madariaga, the General Manager of Euskaltel-Euskadi, asked Discovery Director Johan Bruyneel for Martínez, but Bruyneel refused, answering that the winner of the 2003's Tour de l'Avenir was already integrated in the plans of Discovery Channel for next year, so that there were grounds for neither an offer nor an excuse for negotiations between Euskaltel-Euskadi and Martínez.
At the time, nobody knew Discovery Channel would announce the end of its sponsorship. "This news came as very surprising for me. I thought that Johan (Bruyneel) would give me an offer soon. I did not think of other possibilities, of other teams, because I was very happy there... . Now, I have to begin to search, because actually, I don't have anything concrete, even if I am aware that some teams are interested in me," said Martínez to Deia.
Euskaltel-Euskadi will make the rider an offer this week. "He is a rider who is tremendously interesting, more than any other we contacted until this moment, because he fits perfectly in our philosophy and in the form of working of this team. We would like to have him with us, but we won't fire the other ones for him. We don't want to break the dynamic of the team," confirmed Madariaga.
On his part, Martínez sees the offer of Euskaltel-Euskadi as "one of the alternatives," but he hopes for more offers. "I am looking for a team where I would like to be as much like being in this team (Discovery) and where I can do a similar (race) calendar. I want to feel really appreciated, like I do it now." A possible alternative for the cyclist from Navarra could be Eusebio Unzuè's team Caisse d'Epargne.
At the moment, Martínez is focussing on the Vuelta a España, although he admits that this is difficult. "These (times) are complicated, difficult to digest, and I am not very motivated. The pressure after the victory in the Tour de France was minimal, but now I have to motivate myself again," said Martínez.