Basques get new amateur team

By Monika Prell

For the next two years, the Basque province of Alava will be home to an amateur team sponsored by Naturgas. 80% of the riders are from or were born in Alava. Management presented the team Tuesday at the Hotel Lakua in Vitoria, in the capital of the Basque country.

Naturgas will work closely with the Euskaltel - Euskadi team. Six of the 11 confirmed riders are on stipend from the Fundación Euskadi including Ricardo García, Andoni Sánchez, Aitor Valderrama, Jurgen Jabato and debutants Mikel Landa and Jon Aberasturi.

The Naturgas team succeeds the now defunct Hotel Ruta Europa team with a budget of between 150,000 and 180,000 Euros. Riders will race on bikes from Orbea, a Basque company. The team will be directed by Álex Diaz, who is a former Saunier Duval - Prodir rider and who gave up cycling in 2005.

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