By Jean-François Quénet in Strathalbyn, South Australia
At the start of Stage 3 of the Tour Down Under, the first man to attack was no stranger to listeners of Radio Tour at the Tour de France. Amets Txurruka didn't go far in the breakaway on Thursday, but confirmed the fighting spirit already shown on the roads of France last year.
The Euskaltel rider is the one who went on stage on the Champs-Élysées in Paris at the 2007 Tour de France to receive the prize for most aggressive rider overall, still wearing the white jersey of best young rider. He finished his first Tour de France in 23rd position and was the third best young rider, wearing the white jersey after the exclusion of Michael Rasmussen, while Alberto Contador was busy in yellow and Juan Mauricio Soler with the polka dot jersey.
"My first Tour de France brings me fabulous memories back," he said with a large smile in the small and charming town of Manum in South Australia. "I want to go back with the ambition of winning a stage but not for improving my overall classification yet. For now, I still work in support of Haimar Zubeldia, Samuel Sanchez and Mikel Astarloza. I also target the Vuelta for this year and I'm actually keen on going for a win at any bike race I take part in."
It hasn't happened yet since he turned professional with Barloworld in 2006 before joining the team of his region last year. Txurruka hails from Markina in Vizcaya. Aged 25, he's still a student at the University of the Basque country in San Sebastian where, after graduating as a teacher, he's now studying child psychology.
"I did ask my team to bring me here and I don't regret it," he added. "Australia is beautiful. It's not usual for Euskaltel to come and do this race but now it's ProTour so we have to do it and we want to begin the season on a high note."
On the way to Strathalbyn, it wasn't Txurruka the orange rider away but Javier Armendia. It confirmed the intentions of the Basques and we'll see Txurruka in action again this year.