Saturday, August 15, 2015

Tour de l'Avenir Teams Preview: Spain

The Iberian Peninsula is coming out of their shell for one of the few times this year on the international level and they bring some interesting competition. Portugal is still confirming their roster so let's go with the other nation down there.


Roster: Marc Soler (Movistar), Eneko Lizzaralde (Murias Taldea), Imanol Estevez (Murias Taldea), Julien Amezqueta (Cafes Baque), Fernando Barcelo (Fundacion Contador) and Cristian Rodriguez (Caja Rural Amateur)

Obviously, the big piece on the Spanish squad is World Tour rider Marc Soler. Those that have read this site before know that I have been...unhappy...with the rule change allowing World Tour riders into the U23 Nations Cup races, with the Tour de l'Avenir included. Soler has ridden a big season with Movistar with nearly 50 racing days but only one World Tour race, the Volta a Catalunya. Soler, who is a climber that has had flashes of brilliance this year, just finished the Vuelta a Burgos in a respectable 26th overall.

Lizzaralde and Estevez both come from Murias Taldea and they are...alright. They can certainly provide team support but neither are world beaters.

Cristian Rodriguez is an interesting rider as he was 2nd in the Spanish U23 TT and then won the Vuelta a Leon after a impressive breakaway on the final stage to win by 1'38". Fernando Barcelo made it through the Giro della Valle d'Aosta in a decent way and has been on the podium regionally this year with 2nd in the Vuelta a Coruna & Castello and 3rd in the Vuelta a Navarra. Barcelo is just a first year (he was Spanish Junior TT champ last year) and has already completed a training camp with Tinkoff-Saxo. Perhaps a couple of lieutenants for Soler in the mountains?

Julen Amezqueta might be the dark horse of this team after his win in the Volta a Portugal do Futuro (Tour of Portugal U23) in July. He was also 4th in the Bidasoa Itzulia, just a second back from the win, and won regionally in Spain. He is lacking some experience abroad as well as racing days but if he is on, watch out.

Some of the snubs here include Enric Mas (Fundacion Contador), U23 RR Champ Jaime Roson (Caja Rural), Alvaro Trueba (Cafes Baque) and Mikel Aristi (Fundacion Euskadi).

I'm not overly impressed with this roster. It is good but it seems incomplete with so much talent being left out. Perhaps a top 10 overall?