Monday, 23 April 2012
Major Blow For Euskaltel-Euskadi
Another untimely twist in the Euskaltel-Euskadi saga (see HERE and HERE for the full story) has come in the form of Igor Anton taking a tumble before the start of yesterdays Liege-Bastogne-Liege resulting in a fractured left clavical. Anton joins a long list of riders who have broken their collarbone (common cycling injury as The Inner Ring explains HERE) this season, including Fabian Cancellara, but Anton's will have far reaching consequences beyond his own health and performance...
Things were starting to look up for the Euskaltel team, a stage win at the Tour of Catalunya and the Overall win at the Tour of The Basque Country for Samuel Sanchez, plus his decent showing at Amstel gold provided a welcome boost in UCI ranking points along with some good publicity - the winning ingredients for a team suffering with lack of sponsorship and investment.
Then came Liege-Bastogne-Liege, again Samuel Sanchez put in a good performance but the limelight was taken by his teammate for all the wrong reasons. Anton has long been on of the big riders at Euskaltel-Euskadi, a team that takes young amateur riders from the Basque Country and develops them into strong, competitive professional cyclists on the world stage, all good news for cycling. A hardworking, driven team with a great attitude and riding for all the right reasons funded in part by the Basque Government (though that may change) but when it comes to riding in the top level of professional cycling, its perforances and WorldTour ranking points that matter and this is where the stronger, already established riders like Samuel Sanchez and Igor Anton step in, without them this team probably wouldn't, or indeed couldn't exist at the top level. Sanchez has already done a pretty good job of it so far. Igor Anton's immediate role however was the Tour de Romendie and then to turn up at the Giro d'Italia in May, possibly take a couple of stage wins and even focus on riding for the Overall Classification grabbing the team some much needed points and media attention - a hard task to achieve with a broken collarbone. If Igor Anton misses the Giro, this could well turn out to be the final nail in the coffin for Euskaltel-Euskadi. With only so many hands to play, they quite literally need to play them all to stand any chance of securing much needed financial backing.
There is little coming from the Euskaltel camp at the minute, the disappointment is clear. They will be waiting to see the outcome of today's medical tests and decide on the most appropriate treatment from there. Hopefully it will be a clean break and present little in the way of complications, however that's not always the case, Fabian Cancellara is taking significant time out of racing due to complications even though he was back training on the rollers within a week. Having said that, its not impossible that Anton may still take to the start line of the Giro in a couple of weeks time - the average collarbone break means four weeks off and a gradual move back into racing thereafter is typically the norm, however Filippo Pozzato broke his collarbone this year in Qatar and was back racing at Trofeo Laigueglia 9 days later (against the advice of his doctor). He recovered extremely quickly and has had a better than average start to the year as a result. Whether Igor Anton can do the same is yet to be established.
Whats clear is that if there is a chance Anton can ride, the team will do everything to make sure he will. Rightly or wrongly, cycle racing is increasingly all about the points...