Haimar Zubeldia was the highest placed RadioShack Leopard finisher at Ax 3 Domaines in 19th at 3:04
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Basques riders happy to continue in set-up
Haimar Zubeldia has signed a contract to race for two years with the Trek WorldTour team while fellow Spaniard Markel Irizar has penned a deal for the next three years. The Trek team is taking over the WorldTour license and status from the RadioShack-Leopard team currently backed by Flavio Becca. Both racers presently ride for RadioShack.
"I am pleased to reach an agreement for the next two seasons with my current team," said Zubeldia. "Since the two sides had intentions to extend the contract for two years and negotiations during the Tour were conducted, it has been easy. Now the signatures of the contract will be done soon through my agency, KEC Pro Sport."
Zubeldia feels comfortable on his current team. At 36 years old, he is in the final stretch of his pro career and is planning no major changes to his programme.
"All I want is the peace of mind and confidence to continue training, taking care of myself and giving my best," he said.
Zubeldia said he is especially "privileged to be able to remain a professional cyclist even as a crisis is hitting the cycling world and the lack of sponsors makes the continuation of some teams in doubt for the following year. This will force some of my colleagues to have to leave the sport."
In particular, he is concerned about the situation of his compatriots on the Euskaltel-Euskadi team. "It saddens me that the team from where I grew up, got into cycling and have many friends is about to end. It's a shame the team does not have a solution to keep proving that it can compete side by side with the world's best cyclists. I'd like to convey encouragement to all my fellow Basque cyclists."
Zubeldia finished this year's Tour de France with a fracture to the fifth metacarpal of his left hand. After racing the Clasica San Sebastian, he took a few days off to recover both physically and mentally.
"The easiest thing would have been to abandon the Tour and go home, but I decided to continue to support the team although it might further punish my body ahead of my next races."
The Vuelta a Esapana will be Zubeldia's last major goal of the season. "With the work done in the Tour, I hope to feel good again and make up for the Tour. We have three weeks until the start of the race to prepare."
Irizar was equally pleased with his new deal. "I'm very happy to ride for Trek for the next three years. Racing for the largest bike firm in the world will allow us to have the best material and have the best technology," said Irizar.
"I hope to return to Trek. The team has trusted me so much and I want to repay them with my efforts and results."
Irizar is one of the men who supported teammate Fabian Cancellara's Classics campaign, and he will continue in that role with the new Trek team.
"With Fabian as a leader for the next three years, I will support him and his goal to add Milan-San Remo, Flanders and Roubaix victories to his palmares."