Generational change for Euskaltel

Euskaltel wasn't expected to find the hills long enough for their taste.

Euskaltel wasn't expected to find the hills long enough for their taste. (Image credit: Elmar Krings)

Basque team Euskaltel-Euskadi held its 2010 official presentation on Wedesday, at the Palacio Euskalduna in Bilbao. This year's team counts 24 riders, including two neo-pros. The squad has signed six new riders to the roster and seen five athletes leave to other teams.

A generational change has put its mark on the 2010 team with Miguel Madariaga leaving his function as general manager. Taking his place is former professional Igor González de Galdeano, who has been sports director with the team since 2006. Nevertheless, Madariaga will preside the Euskadi Foundation behind the ProTour team and its Continental and development squads.

The President of the autonomous government of the Basque Country, Patxi López, the "Lehendakari" ,joined the launch and supported the squad, making a passionate speech about the first Basque rider to participate in the Tour de France, Vicente Blanco El Cojo.

The team's race programme will largely remain as in 2009, with González de Galdeano emphasizing on the importance of "the Vuelta al Pais Vasco, the Tour and the Vuelta a España, as well as the races that take place in the Basque country like Llodio, Getxo, Urkiola and Amorebieta."

The team's leader, Olympic champion Samuel Sanchez, will be the man to follow at the Tour de France, while Igor Anton will focus on the Vuelta where he will be the squad's captain. "I want Samuel Sanchez, Igor Anton and Koldo Fernandez de Larrea to start off strong in the season and then concentrate on the Tour," continued González de Galdeano. "The idea is that Samuel comes to the Vuelta al Pais Vasco in good shape. Other riders like Gorka Verdugo, Ivan Velasco and Mikel Nieve will also start the season strongly."

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