The Euskaltel-Euskadi team is one of the oldest in the professional peloton as well as the UCI World Tour. Feel like knowing everything about the cycling teams that compete in the races? Find out more about a historic team that has been unleashing passions in the Basque Country since 1994: the Euskaltel-Euskadi cycling team.
It was founded in 1994 by the Euskadi Foundation, a non-profit organization. The particularity of the Euskaltel-Euskadi team is that it brings together runners originally from the Basque Country or trained in teams from that territory. In fact, the term "Euskadi" refers to this region of the western Pyrenees straddling France and Spain.
In 1997, the Basque Country telephone company Euskaltel became the team's title sponsor. Thanks to this financial support and under the impetus of new sports director Julián Gorospe, the team works hard for 9 years and joins the UCI World Tour in 2005, formerly UCI ProTour.
After brilliant years in the professional peloton, the team is disbanded in 2013, when the main sponsor Euskaltel withdraws. A hard blow for Basque cycling.
It is the rebirth at the end of the 2019 season, when a new team joins the professional category, carried by Mikel Landa, president of the Fundación Euskadi and Jorge Azanza, sports director. Called Fundación-Orbea, the continental Pro team (UCI ProTeam) competes in the second world division.
In 2020, the resurrection continues with the grand return of the team's legendary sponsor, Euskaltel. The team gets its original name back: Euskaltel-Euskadi.
The team's cyclists enter the new year more motivated than ever: they hope to return to their former greatness and join the UCI World Tour calendar.
While competing on the continental circuits, the team experienced its first grand tour victory in 1999, when Roberto Laizeka won stage 18 of the Vuelta. The following year, he repeated this performance on the 11th stage of the Tour of Spain.
Thanks to his honorable results, the Euskaltel-Euskadi cycling team was invited to participate in the Tour de France in 2001. The extraordinary Spanish rider Roberto Laizeka excels on the 14th stage in Luz-Ardiden, from which he emerges as the winner. Íñigo Chaurreau, meanwhile, climbed to 12th place overall.
Thereafter, the Basque team would participate in all future editions of the Tour de France, whose Pyrenean stages were now colored orange, with crowds of euphoric supporters dressed in T-shirts distributed by Euskaltel. This is the "marea naranja" (orange tide).
Among the notable victories of the following seasons are:
the 8th stage of the Tour de France won by Iban Mayo in 2003;
the white jersey of best young rider of the Tour de France 2007 awarded to Amets Txurruta ;
the 3rd step of the podium in the 2007 Tour of Spain for Samuel Sánchez;
the 12th stage of the 2011 Tour de France in Luz-Ardiden won by Samuel Sánchez who also took the polka dot jersey of best climber.
More recently, in 2019, on his return to the professional category, Colombian Sergio-Higuita swept the first position on stage 4 of the Tour of Alentejo.
For this new season, the Euskaltel-Euskadi team will see 20 cyclists start under its colors, including its two leaders: Mikel Bizkarra and Juan José Lobato.
Born in 1989, Mikel Bizkarra Etxegibel is one of the team's leading figures. The Spanish national cyclist with a climbing profile will try to shine in the stage races of the 2021 season.
Professional since 2011, he rolls the best season of his career in 2018 by finishing on the second step of the podium in the Tour of Aragon, especially thanks to the 3rd stage he won solo.
That year, he fulfills his dream by participating for the first time in the Tour of Spain, where he climbed to the 17th place in the general classification.
32-year-old (1988) Spaniard Juan José Lobato del Valle is the leader sprinter of the Euskaltel-Euskadi team. An amateur since 2006, he moved to the professional category in 2011 with the Andalucía team.
In 2013, he joined the Euskaltel-Euskadi team with which he participated in the Tour de France. On several occasions, Juan José Lobato finished in the top ten in the stages. After the disappearance of Euskaltel-Euskadi, the cyclist joined the Movistar team, then Lotto NL-Jumbo and finally Nippo-Vini Fantini-Faizanè, before wearing the Basque orange jersey again in 2020.
The two leaders will be able to count on the support of their teammates to lead them to victory:
Luis Ángel Maté;
Xabir Mikel Azparren;
Antonio Jesús Soto;
With the exception of Belarusian Dzmitry Zhyhunou, the team features only Spanish cyclists.
Now that you're well-versed in the Euskaltel-Euskadi cycling team, how about learning more about other teams such as the Cofidis, Lotto Soudal, Qhubeka Nexthash, Arkea-Samsic, St Michel Auber93, Nippo Provence PTS Conti or KMC Orbea?