Euskaltel – Euskadi's Egoi Martínez has overtaken the leadership in the mountain classification after the nineth stage of the Tour de France from Saint Gaudens to Tarbes. The 31 years-old declared after the stage: "I am very happy and emotional. We needed three days to reach the leadership of the mountain classification. We made a big effort, and so reaching the objective is very satisfying."
The Basque from Etxarri – Aranatz thanked his teammates for their work. "Yesterday evening we talked about that we had to do everything possible to obtain this jersey and we had to work very hard. My team mates have been great; Amets Txurruka has done an incredible effort. It's an important fact to reach to the rest day of the Tour with one of the leader's jerseys."
The team had no luck in the Tour de France until today: crashes, no stage wins, even if the riders were present in almost every breakaway group. On top of that, Koldo Fernández de Larrea, the team's sprinter, missed the time limit on stage eight and was eliminated.
Martínez said, "When I finished fifth in the stage of Andorra – Arcalis I already said that we are a team that has difficulties getting victories. Yesterday Mikel Astarloza showed his strength, but he was not able to win the stage. Besides Samuel Sánchez and Igor Antón, when he is in a good form, the rest of us have a hard time winning. It's our philosophy, but with our effort we show that we are a team of the highest level, we are competing in the Tour de France and we participate in every battle."
Martínez was pleased by the atmosphere in the Pyrenees. "This stage in the Pyrenees has been very nice for the quantity of fans who were there cheering us. We have to thank them that they travel so many kilometers to applaud our effort. My family was there and this always helps you to give even more. In tomorrow's rest day we will have to recharge our energies, because there are still many stages to come. We will try to defend the mountain jersey, because we did so much to obtain it."
His sports director Igor González de Galdeano was "very content about the performance of the team during the Tour. This good work was crowned by the mountain jersey of Egoi who has completed three very good Pyrenean stages. He was very constant and has showed a big strength.
"The team has been where it had to be, Amets (Txurruka) was very generous and this is the team I want to have. We will have to savour this jersey, for us it is very important having been on the podium of the Tour." The sports director sees the race as still open, "but controlled by the team Astana. They did not waste more effort than is necessary and they have four riders amongst the top six in the general classification. Astana is without any doubt the team to beat."