Three months into a season in which his team has yet to win a race and one of their new signings has tested positive for EPO, Euskaltel-Euskadi team manager Igor González de Galdeano has said, “This is the most critical moment for me since I joined Euskaltel.” He went on to criticize his riders for their lack of results this season, revealing that he was particularly disappointed with the team’s performance at the Tour of the Basque Country.
Speaking to El Diario Vasco following confirmation that recent signing Alexandre Serebryakov had tested for EPO in an out-of-competition control carried out in mid-March, González de Galdeano affirmed his commitment to signing foreign riders in order to raise the level and points-winning potential of his team. But he described news of the Russian’s positive test as “a terrible blow”.
González de Galdeano explained that as well as adopting a new recruitment policy that has resulted in the signing of riders from a number of countries, the Spanish team has also introduced a “more rationalized” training regime. This new programme, he acknowledged, could well be the reason for his squad’s lack of results.
“We decided to make a change to our preparation and for this reason we signed Iñigo Mujika, who is a renowned figure in the world of athletic preparation. This change needs time to have effect, it can’t be achieved in a month,” González de Galdeano said. The new system, he added, should have a beneficial long-term effect on performance. “But we started very late when it came to preparation, as things were quite complicated due to the change in the management structure of the team. We started giving attention to the cycling side quite late.”
Having to an extent excused the performance of his riders, he then went on to name some of those on the roster who have disappointed him. “In the Tour of the Basque Country more was expected of Igor Anton, and also of the Izagirre brothers, even though they are young. More was expected in terms of results not in terms of their behavior. Before the Basque race we were also expecting more from Mikel Nieve, but the victories haven’t come. They have not reached the level I was expecting.”
Asked who was responsible for this, González de Galdeano replied: “The riders… To achieve results you have to pay a price. More sacrifices have to be made at certain points in the year, to go out training like other cyclists do, to be at the right weight.”
González de Galdeano acknowledged that Basque riders have rarely been prolific winners. This, he explained, made it even more important to continue with the internationalization of the team, in spite the setback with Serebryakov. “Internationalizing the team means signing riders with a good enough level to help us stay in the WorldTour, to stick with a project that will still include Basque riders but will also make the team viable,” he said, adding that the team will look at signing bigger names in the future, especially if they can find a co-sponsor that will boost the squad’s budget. He revealed he is looking for a new backer who can pump four million euros into the team.
As for Serebryakov, González de Galdeano commented: “I don’t know what to think. He came from a team, Type 1, which is American and raced a lot in that country and in Canada. It is one of the teams that is most heavily involved in the fight against doping. The controls that he did with us didn’t bring up the slightest problem.”
González de Galdeano continued: “The culture of cycling has changed and some people don’t seem to have realized this… Blows like the one Serebryakov has delivered affect a team hugely and they also impact on its credibility at all levels."