By Monika Prell and Antonio J. Salmerón
Ex-professional racer Javier Otxoa, who in 2001 was seriously injured in an accident in Málaga in which his twin brother Ricardo died, has signed with the Saunier Duval Prodir team. Otxoa rode for Kelme-Costa Blanca prior to the accident.
The incident left Otxoa in a coma and while his recovery was good enough to return him to normal life, it was insufficient to allow a return to the pro cycling ranks.
However, since the accident, the winner of stage 10 of the Tour de France in 2000 from Dax to Lourdes-Hautacam has participated in Paralympic competition. He has earned two Olympic medals, a Spanish national title, and two World titles. In March, he was nominated for the Laureus, the world's most prestigious sporting awards.
The Paralympic cyclist will use the same equipment, including clothing, bikes, and supplies, as the other members on the team. Otxoa will next tackle the Spanish championships in June and the World championships in Bordeaux in August, where he hopes to beat the tally of five medals he earned last year.
"For me, he's like any other rider on the team", declared Joxean Fernández Matxin, the director of the team, "and an example for all of us for getting over hardships. We will help him in everything we can."