Preview — Haimar Zubeldia from

    • Filled in News in English 11 Февраль 2009 в 2:03, author: KazakhNeRider
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    Haimar Zubeldia

    The Big Question- Is he fading into the sunset? There are mountain goats and there are mountain goats. Thus far I've explored only one category of goat: the excellent chrono/steady climbing class made up of Leipheimer, Evans, Menchov, and Vandevelde (and I would be negligent not to include Andreas Kloden here). Then there's the strong climber/indifferent chrono class who's leading member these days is Carlos Sastre. Our man of the minute Zubeldia is one of these. When he first started he put in a few good time trial efforts, but clearly he sacrificed his chronoing abilities to improve his goatage and so those days are long gone To expect more such efforts is unrealistic.

    Its hard to get excited about Haimar, especially after last year which he might as well have mailed in. But even in the years before that, once the first blush of youth had worn of, it was hard to get excited even though he's had some excellent Grand Tour results:

    • Vuelta: 2000 10th, '02 10th

    • Tour: '03 5th, '05 15th, '06 8th, '07 5th

    See? Good results! (Any Italian not named Basso would kill for those results these days. But I digress.) But I never got the feeling that he was actually battling for a podium spot, much less the overall win. I guess that's because a) his time trialing is not good enough, and b) the Euskie team effort was just not sophisticated enough. Good riders but not enough team tactical awareness. Think about it. Between Zubeldia, Sanchez, Astarloza, Mayo, and Anton, a good DS could have snagged one Grand Tour win somewhere, or if not that more than one podium spot (Samu's 3rd in the 07 Vuelta). It would have taken some careful planning, yes, like which Grand Tour to go after (avoiding as many other stars as possible) and assembling the right team to all peak at roughly the same time, but I don't think that's too much to ask. Instead we got/get some great rugged individual efforts that by definition fall short of their marks because- let's face it- Grand Tour racing is a lot more sophisticated than it was back in the day. Or I should say winning the Tour is a much more sophisticated effort now and when Those Teams decide to truly compete in one of the other Grand Tours, they win. The days of Cale Yalborough, Junior Johnson, and Lee Petty are long gone.

    But now Haimar is on one of Those Teams. He'll be 32 this April- not too old for a Grand Tour competitor. Of course he won't be competing for a Tour win; he'll be a domestique there. And if Contador does the Vuelta again, he'll be a helper there too. But what if Bert doesn't race the Vuelta? There wil be no Levi or Lance there either. Just Klodi maybe. No Sastre. Just Anton, Valverde, Zeke, maybe Evans, maybe Gesink. And what about the other smaller stage races that Bert or Kloden or Levi won't compete in? (I see what Lance says he's gonna do and I can't figure out if he's clowning around or what so I'm not including him in any Astana figuring except for the Giro and Tour.) Exactly what races will Haimar race in anyway? Might we see a rebirth?

    Best case for 2009- Besides no Bert in the Vuelta, some of the smaller stage races could be doable with team support. Castile & Leon, Crit. Int., Romandie, Catalunya, Poland. Races like that. Even with other Astana stars in those races the dude could get results.

    Worst case for 2009- The domestique duties take all of his time and energy.

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