Haimar Zubeldia (RadioShack) has said that he is aiming to perform well in April’s Tour of the Basque Country. Zubeldia is entering his second season at RadioShack and while he will serve as a trusted lieutenant to his leaders at the Tour de France, he hopes to have the opportunity to shine earlier in the year.
“I’m going to have more responsibility in some races,” Zubeldia told Biciciclismo. “In the second half of last season I saw that I could be in front again and that was very important for me. In California I’ll have to work for Chris Horner and Levi Leipheimer but the Basque Country is my home and I always like to do well there.”
Zubeldia’s early season race programme is based almost exclusively in Spain and will include the Mallorca Challenge, the Ruta del Sol and the Tour of Catalonia, ahead of April’s appointment in the Basque Country.
“The idea is to have an acceptable level in the Basque Country and in the classics, and then California is very important to us because the sponsor is from there and we want to bring a strong team,” Zubeldia explained. “After that we will take advantage of the Dauphiné to get ready for the Tour.”
At the Tour de France, Zubeldia is set to ride for Janez Brajkovic. He admires the Slovenian’s work ethic although is concerned that sometimes Brajkovic tries to do too much.
“This year before the Tour, he gave a great display at the Dauphiné and so they said on the team that if he reached that level he could do important things at the Tour,” he said. “He is a very professional rider and sometimes you have to rein him in because he can train too much. But then again, if it gets him into that kind of condition…”
Zubeldia missed out on RadioShack’s sole Grand Tour appearance in 2010, the Tour de France, but he is determined to make amends next season. As well as La Grande Boucle, he will also line up at the Vuelta a España.
“In the Vuelta, I can take my chances and this year it passes close to home too,” he said. “It’s a race that suits me although for now I want to concentrate on the first part of the season.”
Zubeldia is currently training in Calpe in the south of Spain. RadioShack held their first training there last week and given the inclement weather in the Basque Country, Zubeldia has opted to stay there for an additional week of warm weather miles.
“Markel Irizar and I have decided to stay on another week in the same hotel in Calpe given the bad weather back home,” he explained. “Some others have done this too, like Michael Kwiatkowski and Philip Deignan.”
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Barry Ryan is European Editor at Cyclingnews. He has covered professional cycling since 2010, reporting from the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and events from Argentina to Japan. His writing has appeared in The Independent, Procycling and Cycling Plus. He is the author of The Ascent: Sean Kelly, Stephen Roche and the Rise of Irish Cycling’s Golden Generation (opens in new tab), published by Gill Books.