Fresh from confirmation of his team’s ProTeam status for 2011, Euskaltel-Euskadi manager Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano has drawn up his squad’s programme for next season: Igor Anton will lead the Basque team at the Giro d’Italia, while Samuel Sanchez will be aiming to finish on the podium at the Tour de France.
“The team is ready to go to next year’s Giro with Igor Anton with high expectations: not to see what happens, but with ambition,” Gonzalez de Galdeano told El Correo. “Igor likes that race. Beware of him at this Giro.”
While recognising that home teams such as Liquigas will have both the quality and the motivation to ride on the front of the race for three weeks, Gonzalez de Galdeano maintains that Anton will have his say in Italy.
“Anton will be at 100 per cent. We know that the Italians will all be there, but we will stay in the shadows and not take on too much responsibility,” Gonzalez de Galdeano explained. “It’s a race which we can adapt too very well. In principle, the objective is a stage, something we’ve never achieved there, but Igor has made a big leap, both physically and psychologically, and he’s capable of more.”
Anton impressed at this season’s Vuelta a España until he crashed out of the race on stage 14 while wearing the leader’s red jersey. Gonzalez de Galdeano is convinced that his man was primed to take overall victory and believes that Anton will be a serious contender at both the Giro and the Vuelta in 2011.
“We demonstrated for the first time that we were capable of winning the Vuelta,” he said. “Now that Anton is 28 years old, he is old enough to do two major tours.”
Sanchez to aim for Tour podium and more
While Anton will spearhead the Basque challenge for the maglia rosa, Olympic champion Samuel Sanchez will return to the Tour de France hoping to go at least one better than his fourth place finish in 2010. Indeed, Gonzalez de Galdeano admitted that circumstances may well allow Sanchez to aim even higher in France in 2011.
“To win the Tour would require a lot of things to go our way,” Gonzalez de Galdeano said. “But he can get on the podium. There are riders who are above him but situations could arise that benefit him. Like as happened for Sastre in 2008.”
Reigning Tour winner Alberto Contador missed the 2008 race when his Astana team was not invited by the race organisers. The Spaniard tested positive for Clenbuterol at the 2010 Tour de France and is currently awaiting a verdict on his case and on if he will be able to race in 2011.
“Samuel is our most protected rider,” Gonzalez de Galdeano explained. “He may not race a great many days but when he does, he is competitive and fresh. 2011 is the year to take a punt on anything.”
Gonzalez de Galdeano also said that he would resist the temptation to give Romain Sicard a Tour de France debut in 2011 and instead the talented Frenchman will get a taste of a grand tour at the Vuelta a España.
“It would be easy to take him [to the Tour], as he would give us a lot of exposure,” Gonzalez de Galdeano explained. “But that would be a case of bread today and hunger tomorrow."
“He will debut at the Vuelta. The aim is for him to get there as fresh as possible. He’s the rider of the future.”