In Space (Without a Sponsor, No One Can Hear You Scream): yep, after year upon year of dire death-knell predictions, and even this season's disastrous forced experiment with large-scale foreign hiring, it looks like it may finally be true--my dear Euskaltel-Euskadi's riders have been given free rein to look for other squads, and with the exception of darling holdouts-til-the-very-last-second former Olympic Gold medalist and Tour King of the Mountains (and current and future god) Samuel Sanchez and Igor Anton, they've already started scoring (sucky! they're all just sucky!) new homes at, according to various rumors, SaxoContador'sBeeyotch (Mikel Nieve) and Movistar (everyone else they wanna pick from the carcass so screw you you big-money carrion-suckin' vultures!). Great--so even if Euskaltel *finds* another sponsor, their very soul's already been decimated! So, for those sorry few who *don't* know, why is your world now total crap without your even realizing why? Here's why: for nineteen years, the best climbers in the world, almost all Basque over the years, from a relatively small yet astonishingly gifted place. The most passionate--nay, nearly insane--fans, who're still most kind and encouraging to anyone else passing by. Their tireless climbing legs. The way they scattered like those fluffy little dandelion fronds in the least bit of crosswind. The most bitchin' orange-and-black uniforms. Joseba. Iban. Samu'. Haimar. The Izagirres. And of course, a palmares teams like AG2R (who *still* have sponsors--!@#$!ing son of !@#$ !@#$%er !@#$ing !@#$!) could only beg for.
Me, I'm still willing to chip in and save the squad, even if I can maybe only swing a couple dozen boxes of energy gels. And there's still a chance this is all the usual apocalyptic bull!@#$ and they'll return next season, broke-!@# but dedicated as ever. Til then, good thing at least still sorely-missed Iban Mayo (shut up! he was a fragile victim of his hyperaggressive Armstrongian amoral time! bite me!) has a nice steady gig as an electrical contractor. But for me it'll always be Euskaltel for lighting up the sport! A 2012 retrospective (not bad considering the team was already screwed and in turmoil last year!):