The idea of forming a 100% Basque team was born on 6th July 1992, in Pau on the day that Basque rider Javier Murguialday won following the Grand Start of the Tour de France from San Sebastian, at a meeting between politician Jose Alberto Pradera, member of parliament for Biscay at the time, and Miguel Madariaga, who was manager of amateur team Beyena. The Fundacion Ciclista de Euskadi (Basque Cycling Foundation), a private organisation, came into being on 17th June 1993, and the rise of the team, initially funded by its fans, dates back to the arrival in 1998 of telecommunications firm Euskaltel as sponsor. Since the 2000 season and the introduction of orange coloured jerseys, the Euskaltel-Euskadi team is one of the most popular on the Tour de France thanks to the feats of its climbers and its strong regional identity.
Until last year, to be eligible for the team, riders had to be born in one of the seven historical Basque provinces (namely the three provinces forming the Basque Autonomous Community: Alava, Gipuzkoa et Biscay, plus Navarre and the three French Basque provinces: Labourd, Basse-Navarre and Soule), or trained in Basque cycling schools, like Samuel Sanchez, who comes from Asturias, and Inigo Cuesta, from Burgos. A change in policy was imposed by World Tour qualification rules.
The icon of the team, Roberto Laiseka, from Guernica, a town bombed on 26th April 1937 during the Spanish Civil War and the theme of the famous painting by Pablo Picasso, considered himself Basque to such an extent that he refused to take part in the Spanish championship. He won in the Pyrenees, where the “orange tide” of Basque fans sweeps over the mountains when Le Tour visits, on Euskatel’s first participation in 2001. Ten years later, the current team leader, Samuel Sanchez, imitated the pioneer, at the same place, in his presence, providing a fitting homage.
Stage victories: 3
2001: Roberto Laiseka at Luz Ardiden
2003: Iban Mayo at Alpe-d’Huez
2011: Samuel Sanchez at Luz- Ardiden
Victories in secondary classifications: 2
2007: Amets Txurruka (combativity award)
2011: Samuel Sanchez (best climber).
Yellow Jerseys: 0
32: the age of Roberto Laiseka when he won the stage finishing at Luz-Ardiden for Euskaltel’s debut on the Tour de France.
22nd July 2001: for the first participation of Euskaltel on the Tour de France, Basque icon Roberto Laiseka, from Guernica, wins the Luz-Ardiden stage in front of his supporters
13th July 2003: Iban Mayo wins at Alpe-d’Huez
14th July 2011: ten years after Roberto Laiseka and in his presence, Samuel Sanchez gives Euskaltel a second prestigious victory at Luz-Ardiden, where he establishes a significant lead in the race for the Polka Dot Jersey