No 'Samueldependence' at Euskaltel – Euskadi

Samuel Sanchez is the star rider, but not the only team member for Euskatel Euskadi

Samuel Sanchez is the star rider, but not the only team member for Euskatel Euskadi (Image credit: Rick Wilson)

Jon Odriozola will lead the team Euskaltel-Euskadi as sports director during the Vuelta al País Vasco. He talked to Noticias de Gipuzkoa about the team's goals for its home race, where this time the best rider of the team, Samuel Sánchez, won't be present as he is focussed on the Tour de France. Odriozola admits that "Samuel is not here, and his absence will be perceptible. He is our goalgetter." At the same time, he is confident about the others. "Mikel [Astarloza] is in a good form and Igor Antón is in an important moment of his career, he will mature…We don't have a 'Samueldependence'."

Odriozola defines the team as the most important thing, explaining that "We have a team, that is the keyword, a very competitive team, with Egoi [Martínez] and [Iñigo] Landaluze, both very strong; [Iñaki] Isasi, the experienced one; Rubén Pérez or Amets [Txurruka], who will have their opportunities. Mikel Astarloza is very animated and aims to race. He is strong and he will have a great team."

He considers the race as "perhaps a bit less hard, but it is full of traps from the first day on, and particularly in the two stages of Orio [fifth and sixth stage]. Furthermore, much depends on the weather. If it rains, the descents will be more decisive than the ascents, and the tactics will also change."

About the favourites for the races, he sees it clear: "[Alberto] Contador has shown his class, he just won a good race [Vuelta a Castilla y León - ed.], even if it was not a race of the level of Paris-Nice or Tirreno-Adriatico. [Cadel] Evans and the Italians, like [Davide] Rebellin are also very strong, but I confess that I see Mikel [Astarloza] and Igor [Antón] as strong as them. It will be really an examination for us," finalised Odriozola.

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