Bicycle Racing News and Opinion:
Monday, September 28, 2015
Monday, September 28, 2015
World Road Championships week ended Sunday with Peter Sagan's masterful victory in the Elite Men's Road Race. We've got complete results posted for every one of the 2015 world championship races along with hundreds of photos.
Next up: Two races on Wednesday, the 30th. In Italy the single day, big-deal (HC ranked) Tre Valli Varesine will be held
In France, a short stage race begins, the Tour de l'Eurométropole.
Elite Men's World Road Championship reports
First, here's the UCI's video of the Men's road race:
Tinkoff-Saxo sent this happy press release:
Peter Sagan asserted his willpower in Richmond, Virginia to convincingly claim the coveted World Championship title and secure Tinkoff-Saxo a historical first Worlds Road Race title. The entire team followed the race with excitement and extends a warm applause to the newly crowned and well-deserved Champ after having witnessed Sagan’s inspiring dedication throughout 2015.
Tinkoff-Saxo’s Team Owner Oleg Tinkov couldn’t be any clearer in his reaction to Peter Sagan’s World Championship win that came just 30 days after having suffered second degree burns at Vuelta a España. “Peter is the beast! Cycling without him would be different!”, states Oleg Tinkov concisely.
A decisive attack from a superior Peter Sagan on the steep incline of 23rd street saw the Slovak secure a stirring solo win at the 2015 World Championships Road Race. According to Tinkoff-Saxo’s Head Sports Director Steven de Jongh there was no doubt to who was the strongest on the day.
Peter Sagan's joy after winning the road race
“After a great race, the best rider won! By far the strongest in the last lap! Peter won despite the fact that he had a small team around him. He did his move on the right moment. One moment of hesitation between Hagen and Van Avermeat was enough. We are all very happy for Peter and congratulate him and the Slovakian squad”, says Steven de Jongh.
The World Championship title comes after a season of hard, persistent work. Tinkoff-Saxo first witnessed Sagan’s resolve on the slopes of Kilimanjaro, where he insisted on carrying his luggage all the way instead of leaving it to the local porters. Throughout 2015, Peter Sagan has battled adversity yet come out on top on multiple and memorable occasions such as in his overall Tour of California win and in pulling on the green jersey at Tour de France.
Tinkoff-Saxo sees yesterday’s win, which Sagan himself proclaims to be the biggest of his career, as an ideal near conclusion to the season – and an exciting start to 2016. For Tinkoff-Saxo’s General Manager Stefano Feltrin, Peter Sagan will become an ideal ambassador for the sport by wearing the rainbow jersey in his final appearances of the season such as the inaugural Abu Dhabi Tour in October.
“Simply a terrific victory after a very tactical race. It is going to be a great honor to have the rainbow jersey in our team. At Tinkoff-Saxo we will all do our outmost best to help Peter reach other great victories wearing this very special jersey. He is certainly going to be a great ambassador for cycling and friendship between people wearing his rainbow jersey – he already is and these colors just underline what a true champion he is”, concludes Stefano Feltrin.
This came from Orica-GreenEdge:
Multiple Grand Tour stage winner Michael Matthews (Australia) has won the reduced bunch sprint to claim the silver medal at the UCI Road Cycling World Championships in Richmond, Virginia.
Matthews finished just three seconds behind four-time Tour de France green jersey champion Peter Sagan (Slovakia) who escaped on the penultimate climb inside the final five kilometres to win solo.
The 25-year-old’s podium finish resembled that of last year’s championship which saw Simon Gerrans (Australia), who claimed sixth today, sprint to second behind the late escape of Michal Kwiatkowski (Poland).
Immediately after the race Matthews, who had shown his return to form after suffering broken ribs at the Tour de France by winning a stage at the Tour of Alberta, was a little disappointed to miss out on the rainbow jersey. “Unfortunately it’s not the gold," Matthews said. "I came here to win the race and I had the legs and had the form to win but Sagan slid away there and we weren’t able to catch him."
“I was about fifth or sixth wheel when he went. I thought that some other guys would close it but obviously they didn’t. Then I thought that we’d catch him with three kilometres to go with it being such a hard race but maybe we underestimated him a little bit. I’m really happy for him actually.”
Michael Matthews (left) finishes just three seconds after Peter Sagan
How it happened: As the peloton set off for the 2015 UCI Road Cycling World Championship they had 261.4km (18.1km plus 15 laps of 16.2km) and well over six hours of racing ahead of them.
The day featured a number of breakaways, the first a group of eight riders who rode out to the biggest gap of the day, just five minutes. Then, after a stint with three riders out front, a dangerous group of seven established with three laps to go, including the likes of defending champion Kwiatkowski and Classics specialist Tom Boonen (Belgium),
The group rode to a 30second advantage before the peloton caught them, thanks largely to the efforts of Australia and Germany, at the base of the base of the Libby Hill – the first of three consecutive climbs - on the penultimate lap.
A flurry of short attacks characterised the final lap, but it was the move of Sagan on the penultimate climb of the race that proved too strong as a largely reduced peloton struggled to shut it down from behind.
By the finish line, Sagan claimed the victory by three seconds to Matthews, who won the bunch sprint for second ahead of Ramunas Navardauskas (Lithuania).
Lampre-Merida's upcoming racing news:
After the World Championships in Richmond, the great cycling will move to Italy, where Lampre-Merida will take part in three races: Tre Valli Varesine (Wednesday 30th September), Milano-Torino (Thursday 1s October) and Gran Piemonte (Friday 2nd October).
For the three races, the sport director Marco Marzano will direct these three selections of riders:
- Tre Valli Varesine (30 September): Matteo Bono, Mattia Cattaneo, Valerio Conti, Chun Kai Feng, Ilia Koshevoy, Jan Polanc, Xu Gang and Edward Ravasi (trainee).
- Milano-Torino (1 October): Matteo Bono, Mattia Cattaneo, Valerio Conti, Chun Kai Feng, Ilia Koshevoy, Sacha Modolo, Xu Gang and Filippo Ganna (he'll debut as trainee).
- Gran Piemonte (2 October): Davide Cimolai, Kristijan Durasek, Chun Kai Feng, Sacha Modolo, Manuele Mori, Jan Polanc, Diego Ulissi, Xu Gang.
In the operative staff there will be the driver Bozzolo, the doctor Guardascione, the masseurs Capelli, Della Torre and Napolitano and the mechanics Bortoluzzo and Romanò.
The sport director Marzano explained that "We'll approach the Tre Valli Varesine with a battling spirit, paying attention in joining the eventual interesting breakaways, also with the two Asian athletes Feng and Xu, and trying to support in the best way Polanc and Conti, whose qualities are suitable for the final part of the race.
For what concerns the Milano-Torino, with the charming final on the Colle di Superga, Koshevoy and Conti will be our main riders and they'll receive the support of the whole team, with special regards to Cattaneo and to the rookie trainee Ganna.
In the Giro del Piemonte the sprinters will have more chances, we'll rely on Cimolai and Modolo. Ulissi too will participate in the race".
Team Sky's 2016 roster announcement:
Sir Dave Brailsford, Team Principal, today announced the Team Sky squad for the 2016 season. He said: "January 2015 marked the start of the next chapter for Team Sky with our ambition to be indisputably the best team in the world by 2020. We have taken the first steps on that path and I am proud of what we have achieved this season. However we can never be complacent and must always look forward.
"Today I am announcing the full Team Sky line up for 2016. It’s a strong team - led by Chris Froome - that will ensure that we can be even more competitive in all the major races - from Grand Tours to Classics. We have recruited some of the best young talent from around the world in Michal Kwiatkowski and Mikel Landa for example. At the same time we have been able to keep the nucleus of this year’s successful team together by re-signing riders of the calibre of Vasil Kiryienka - the new time trial world champion.
"Cycling is a global sport and Team Sky will always look to recruit the best riders from around the world. But we remain a British team with a strong British core. I’m pleased that the five British riders who were such a big part of this year’s successful Tour de France team will all be riding for us again in 2016 - along with new signing Alex Peters. Britain has become a cycling nation over the last decade. We want more and more people to love the bike and Team Sky will continue to play its part in this cycling revolution.
NEW SIGNINGS: Michal Golas, Benat Intxausti, Michal Kwiatkowski, Mikel Landa, Gianni Moscon, Alex Peters & Danny van Poppel
Mikel Landa moves from Astana to Sky
CONTRACT RENEWALS: Ian Boswell, Philip Deignan, Sebastian Henao, Peter Kennaugh, Vasil Kiryienka, Christian Knees, Mikel Nieve, Luke Rowe, Ian Stannard & Xabier Zandio
UNDER EXISTING CONTRACT: Andrew Fenn, Chris Froome, Sergio Henao, Leopold Konig, David Lopez, Lars Petter Nordhaug, Wout Poels, Salvatore Puccio, Nicolas Roche, Ben Swift, Geraint Thomas & Elia Viviani.
"Of course some riders will be leaving us. They have all made a massive contribution to the team on and off the bike. We will miss them and look forward to the opportunity of thanking them properly later this year for everything they have done for Team Sky."
DEPARTING RIDERS: Nathan Earle, Bernhard Eisel, Danny Pate, Richie Porte, Kanstantsin Siutsou, Chris Sutton
FULL TEAM SKY SQUAD FOR 2016:
IAN BOSWELL: Ian Boswell is among the new wave of up-and-coming stage race riders and 2016 marks his fourth year as a professional. Team Sky identified Ian as one of the world’s best young all-rounders in 2012 after he followed up his runners-up spot at the under-23 Liege-Bastogne-Liege with impressive climbing displays at the Tours of Utah and l’Avenir.
After making the step up to the seniors in 2013, Boswell helped Team Sky to victories at both Paris-Nice and the Tour of Norway, and in 2014 played his part in four further race wins. It is in the mountains where Ian feels most at home, but his selfless attitude and unwavering work ethic make him a key team player on any terrain.
PHILIP DEIGNAN: Philip Deignan became the first Irishman to ride for Team Sky in 2014 and immediately established himself as a key member of the squad. Now in his 11th year as a pro, Phil has amassed an enviable stage race record including eight Grand Tour appearances and a host of impressive results. His career highlight came on the 18th stage of the 2009 Vuelta a Espana when he battled to a hard-fought win, and that result helped him claim a top-10 overall finish in the process.
ANDREW FENN: Andrew Fenn joined Team Sky after an assured first three years in the professional ranks. In 2012 - his debut season - he claimed back-to-back victories at the Trofeo Palma and Trofeo Migjorn, and sealed seven further podium spots in the process. Winner of the junior Paris-Roubaix in 2008, Andy is a powerful rider with a fast finish and is well suited to the Classics. He provided strong support in spring’s toughest one-day races whilst also packing a punch in the sprints.
CHRIS FROOME: During his time with Team Sky, Chris Froome has grown to become arguably the best stage race rider in the world. Chris shot to prominence by finishing runner up at the 2011 Vuelta a Espana and backed that up the following season when he and Sir Bradley Wiggins earned a remarkable one-two triumph for Team Sky at the Tour de France.
Froome then embarked on an incredible 2013 campaign which saw him take four race victories before winning three stages en route to his first Tour de France yellow jersey. Further successes at the Tours of Oman and Romandie followed in 2014 before a fractured wrist forced him to abandon his Tour de France defence. Reinvigorated, Chris returned to take victory in the Tour de France in 2015 and will be hoping to add to his Grand Tour tally in 2016.
MICHAL GOLAS:The Polish rider has joined Team Sky from Etixx - Quick-Step where he has impressed, serving as a domestique for the last four years. He won the National Road Race Championships in 2012, finished 9th overall in the Tour of Britain in 2013 and 2nd in the Classic Sud-Ardeche in 2014. Winning Kampioenschap van Vlaanderen just days before being announced as a Team Sky rider, his fighting energy and combative team spirit will be crucial in helping the team progress as we move into next season.
SEBASTIAN HENAO: Sebastian Henao joined cousin Sergio on the Team Sky roster in 2014 and quickly marked himself out as a precocious climbing talent. The Colombian showed no fear as he embarked on his neo-pro season and helped Team Sky to victories at the Settimana Coppi e Bartali and Vuelta al Pais Vasco before going toe-to-toe with the world’s best riders at the Giro d’Italia.
Sebastian gained huge respect when he took eighth place on a brutal 16th stage, and proved that was no fluke by claiming the exact same position on a mountain time trial up the Cima Grappa. The youngest rider on the squad will look to continue that upward trajectory in 2016 and gain yet more experience along the way.
SERGIO HENAO: Sergio Henao is one of the stars in a new generation of Colombian climbers and has been a revelation since bursting onto the European scene in 2012. Sergio hit the ground running during his debut season with Team Sky and achieved a top-10 finish in his first Grand Tour appearance at the Giro d’Italia, as well as enjoying a spell in the best young rider’s jersey.
Henao’s progression continued into 2013 and saw him claim his first stage victories at the Volta ao Algarve and Vuelta al Pais Vasco before demonstrating his one-day prowess with second place at Fleche Wallonne. 2014 was a year to forget after a bad crash at the Tour de Suisse threatened to end his career, but Henao battled back to winning ways in 2015 and will be looking to progress further next season.
BENAT INTXAUSTI: A professional cyclist since 2007, the 29-year-old Spaniard has widespread experience to call upon. In 2012, he won the Vuelta a Asturias and finished 10th overall in the Vuleta a Espana despite working for his team leader, Alejandro Valverde. In 2013, Intxausti won stage 16 in the Giro d'Italia after being part of a breakaway and later finished 8th overall. He also had the leader’s jersey for one day. In the Tour of Beijing, Intxausti won the only mountain stage and the general classification.
He had a very successful season in 2015, holding the leader’s jersey at the Giro d’Italia for multiple stages before an impressive 4th place finish at the Critérium du Dauphiné. We hope his great form will continue with Team Sky as we head into 2016.
PETER KENNAUGH: Peter Kennaugh came of age as a road cyclist in 2013 by helping Team Sky secure a second consecutive Tour de France victory. After committing fully to the road following his gold medal-winning performance on the track at London Olympic Games, Kennaugh was an integral part of the team which saw Chris Froome sweep all before him on his path to the yellow jersey.
2014 saw Kennaugh claim the first of back to back national titles and the Manxman quickly notched up an impressive selection of victories, including overall success and the Tour of Austria and a stint in the race lead at the Criterium du Dauphine after winning the opening stage.
Peter Kennaugh at the 2015 Dauphine
VASIL KIRYIENKA: Vasil Kiryienka has become a cult hero since joining Team Sky and is best known for his power, consistency and machine-like riding style. ‘Kiry’ made his name with solo stage victories at the 2008 and 2011 Giros d’Italia, and his all-round credentials were highlighted further when he took the bronze medal at the 2012 World Time Trial Championships.
He became the second Belarusian to join Team Sky in 2013 and hit the ground running by helping achieve five race victories during the first half of the season. After aiding Chris Froome’s Tour de France win in July, Vasil then claimed an epic stage win himself at the Vuelta a Espana. His career got even better last year with a victory in the individual time trial at the Giro d’Italia before his greatest achievement to date, winning the 2015 World Time Trial Championship in Virginia, USA.
CHRISTIAN KNEES: Since his arrival at the start of 2011, Christian Knees has been one of Team Sky’s strongest domestiques and has helped achieve no less than 11 race victories. The highest-profile of those came during his seventh consecutive Tour de France appearance when he aided Sir Bradley Wiggins to an historic yellow jersey success.
Knees turned professional with Team Wiesenhof in 2004 but made the switch to Milram in 2006 and took the Rund um Koln title in his first season with his new team. The Bayern-Rundfahrt crown would follow in 2008, and Knees also claimed the German national champion’s jersey in 2010 before making his switch to Team Sky.
LEOPOLD KONIG: Leo marked himself out as one to watch in 2011 when he finished runner up at the Tour of Austria, and achieved his first pro triumph the following season when he climbed to victory on the sixth stage of the Tour of Britain. Further successes were to follow at the Czech Cycling Tour and Tour of California in 2013, but his stage win and ninth-place finish at the Vuelta a Espana demonstrated his burgeoning Grand Tour potential.
The Czech rider continued to progress in 2014, and consolidated his place among the world’s top riders when he achieved a seventh-place finish at the Tour de France – a remarkable feat given he was riding for a pro-continental team. His superb climbing and time trial abilities make König an elite all-rounder. In 2015 Leopold joined Team Sky. He became the team’s race leader after Richie Porte’s withdrawal at the Giro d’Italia, finishing a superb 6th overall.
MICHAL KWIATKOWSKI: The Polish rider joins the team for the start of the 2016 season as a celebrated all-rounder with strong sprinting, time-trialling and climbing abilities enabling him to win stage races and one-day classics. His talent was shown during his early career winning the World Junior Time Trial. In 2014, Kwiatkowski became the world champion in the elite men's road race at the age of 24. During the 2015 season, his talent continued to show itself, with a victory at the Amstel Gold Race the culmination of a very successful season.
MIKEL LANDA: Mikel joins the team from Astana where has shown real potential across multiple terrains during the past two seasons. Having worked as a domestique for Fabio Aru during the Giro d’Italia in 2014, Landa really came into his own during the same race a year later where he won two stages, came close to the overall victory and ended up finishing third in a tight race. At the Vuelta in September, Mikel managed to win another stage at a Grand Tour. He has shown he can compete at the highest level and will look to continue to do just that during the 2016 season for Team Sky.
DAVID LOPEZ: Since his arrival in 2013, David Lopez has become one of Team Sky’s most valued domestiques and an integral member of the squad. The Spaniard turned professional in 2005 and worked his way up the ranks before helping Caisse d’Epargne to victory at the 2009 Vuelta a Espana. It was in that race the following season where David earned the biggest win of his career, escaping to victory on a tough ninth stage and earning himself a whole host of plaudits.
After making his move to Team Sky, David played his part in three race triumphs before forming part of Chris Froome’s Tour de France-winning squad. He then earned himself another solo stage win at the Eneco Tour before the season was out. With 13 Grand Tour appearances under his belt, David remains a strong and reliable rider who is happy infiltrating breakaways as well as working tirelessly on the front of the bunch.
GIANNI MOSCON: The Italian U23 Road Race Champion, Gianni has picked up a number of impressive wins and marked himself out as one of the world’s best young talents. The 21 year old will be joining the team for next season. He had a fantastic season in 2015, claiming victories at the Trofeo Citta si San Vendemiano, Trofeo Almar and Palio del Recioto. Let’s hope for more of the same as we move into 2016.
MIKEL NIEVE: Mikel Nieve hit the ground running when he joined Team Sky in 2014 and is rightfully regarded as one of the strongest riders in the squad. Mikel turned professional in 2009 and has tackled eight Grand Tours since then, completing three of them inside the top 10. His first major triumph came at the 2010 Vuelta a Espana where he produced a fine solo triumph, and the Basque rider followed that up in 2011 with and equally-impressive Giro d’Italia stage win.
Mikel tasted victory again with a brilliantly executed ride on the final stage of the 2014 Criterium du Dauphine before finishing 8th in the 2015 Vuelta a España and 10th in the Tour of Poland. Happy to ride for his team-mates or target individual success, Mikel brings explosive climbing prowess and is one to watch when the road ramps upwards.
ALEX PETERS: The Londoner only recently joined Team Sky in July 2015, initially as a stagiaire. The former Madison Genesis rider showed good form during the 2015 season, finishing 2nd in the Tour of Normandy before winning a stage in the Tour de Bretagne.
LARS PETTER NORDHAUG: Lars Petter returned to Team Sky in 2015 after two seasons away. A founding member of the squad, the Norwegian is an accomplished climber and his attacking style invariably sees him battling it out for victory at the business end of races. Nordhaug started out as a mountain biker but made the switch to road racing in 2005 and scooped a national title and several high-profile victories by the time Team Sky snapped him up in 2010. His career in black and blue got off to the perfect start by forming part of the triumphant team time trial squad at the Tour of Qatar, and since his return he has also won the inaugural Tour de Yorkshire.
WOUT POELS: Wout Poels became the first Dutchman to ride for Team Sky when he signed before the 2015 campaign. Wout turned professional with Vacansoleil in 2009, and after a season learning the ropes he pushed on and achieved stage successes at both the Tour de l’Ain and Tour of Britain.
His all-round abilities were highlighted over the next two years when he topped the young rider classification at the Tours of the Mediterranean, Luxembourg and Tirreno-Adriatico, and the talented climber bagged more stage wins in the process. Wout achieved two stage wins for Team Sky at Tirreno-Adriatico and the Tour of Britain, and was an integral member of the successful Tour de France-winning team.
SALVATORE PUCCIO: Salvatore Puccio has grown to become a valuable cog in the Team Sky machine. The Italian first caught the eye as an amateur after racking up wins in the Toscana-Coppa delle Nazioni and Firenze-Viareggio, but it was his fantastic solo victory in the 2011 under-23 Tour of Flanders which prompted Team Sky to snap him up for the 2012 season.
Since then Salvatore has developed his talents and grown into a seasoned Classics campaigner – representing Team Sky in all five of cycling’s monuments. The highlight of his career came during the 2013 Giro d’Italia when he enjoyed a day in the Maglia Rosa after helping Team Sky to victory in the team time trial. Numerous other top-10 finishes have proved ‘Salva’ can hold his own on a variety of terrain, and he will look to continue his progression in 2016.
NICOLAS ROCHE: Son of cycling legend Stephen, ‘Nico’ was practically born on the bike and lived up to the weight of expectation by turning pro in 2005. Since then the affable Irishman has bagged two national titles, won two stages at the Vuelta a Espana, and triumphed the 2014 Route du Sud. His fifth place finish in the 2013 Vuelta proved he is capable of competing over three weeks of action, and when he is not riding for himself, Nico is more than willing to ride hard for his team-mates.
LUKE ROWE: The Welshman rose through the ranks at British Cycling and had several national and European titles to his name before he stepped up to the seniors with Team Sky in 2012. Far from being overawed by that transition, Luke settled in quickly and had achieved a stage victory at the Tour of Britain - and a spell in the leader’s jersey.
Five top-10 finishes followed in 2013, proving Luke could hold his own at the pinnacle of the sport, and in 2014 he aided the team’s successes at Het Nieuwsblad, the Tours of Romandie and California, and Bayern-Rundfahrt. As well as being a highly-adept domestique, Luke is a talented lead-out rider, and his robust displays mean he is on course to become a Classics specialist.
IAN STANNARD: Stannard is at home when conditions are at their toughest, whether fighting for position at a one-day race or riding on the front at a Grand Tour. An integral part of Chris Froome’s Tour de France victories in 2013 and 2015, Stannard is rightly regarded of one of cycling’s most versatile and hard-working talents. The Englishman finished 4th in the Tour of Qatar and he had two consecutive wins at the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in 2014 and 2015.
BEN SWIFT: The 27 year old was one of the team’s founding riders back in 2010. In 2014, demonstrating what he can do when injury free, the Yorkshireman took a magnificent third place at Milan-San Remo before rounding out the year as Great Britain’s team leader at the World Championships in Ponferrada. Ben will be looking to progress further as we move into the 2016 season.
GERAINT THOMAS: Few riders in the peloton possess the all-round ability of Geraint Thomas. As prolific in a time trial as he is on the climbs, the Welshman is also one of the best Classics riders in the world. Since turning pro in 2007, Thomas has developed with every passing season. With two Olympic gold medals under his belt on the track, a full switch to the road has paid dividends with a string of promising results, including two overall victories at Bayern Rundfahrt.
2014 saw him add a Commonwealth Games road race title to his name, as well as a long spell in the yellow jersey at Paris-Nice. In 2015, he was instrumental in helping Chris Froome win his second Tour de France, showcasing his exceptional talent once again. 2016 looks set to be another exciting year for ‘G’.
DANNY VAN POPPEL: The young Dutchman is the son of former professional cyclists Jean-Paul van Poppel and Leontien van der Lienden. His older brother Boy van Poppel is also a professional cyclist. Danny won the 12th stage of the Vuelta a Espana as well as two stages of the Tour de Wallonie this season and will join the Classics group for 2016. The 22-year-old sprinter from Utrecht made history in 2013 when he became the youngest rider to compete in the Tour de France since World War II.
ELIA VIVIANI: Elia Viviani is one of the most accomplished sprinters in the peloton, having claimed an impressive 36 victories to date since turning pro in 2010. Viviani joined Team Sky in 2015 and wasted no time in settling in, taking his first stage victory at the Dubai Tour. After helping seal a team time trial win at the Tour de Romandie, Elia achieved a landmark triumph by winning his first Giro d’Italia stage, and before the season was out he’d also won a stage at the Eneco Tour and a hat-trick of victories at the Tour of Britain.
XABIER ZANDIO: One of the strongest domestiques in cycling, Zandio has devoted a career to helping his team mates. With 15 years’ experience as a professional, the Spaniard is an expert hand and happy to pass on that knowledge to the next generation of riders. A winner in his own right at the Vuelta a Burgos in 2008, Xabi is most at home when the terrain rises upwards, making him a valuable asset to any team. He will again look to play a valuable role in 2016.