2013The year 2013 is coming to an end, and along with it I leave behind 12 months full of lights and shadows. The year that brought my return to professional cycling, once again with Euskaltel Euskadi, also brought the unexpected disparition of such a special and historic team, a true classic of the professional peloton. What started as a new era for the team, characterized by its internationalization and the search for excellence in its approach to the challenges of the World Tour, in which the team was guaranteed to continue for at least four years, ended with the unexpected and inexplicable dismantling of the team. In the bright side remain the feeling of a job well done, the training camps in La Vila Joiosa and Sierra Nevada, the laboratory and field tests with implicated and professional riders, the relationships with them and all my other teammates, the hard earned and well deserved team victory in Euskaltel Euskadi’s very last major stage tour. On the downside, of course, the tragic accident that took away the life of our colleague and friend Rufino, the team’s disparition and the way it occurred, leaving little margin for the riders to guarantee their continuity in the professional ranks, and practically every single sport director, trainer, masseur, mechanic and all the rest unemployed.

And because bad news hardly ever come alone, the end of 2013 also represents the end of a great project, a great reality I should say, called Araba Sport Clinic. The endless crisis which, resulting from the unbounded greed of the powerful and the corrupt, has been leaving behind it a trail of unemployment, poverty and loss of social rights, also sweeps away five years of work and passion by many people who have contributed to build what was a reference center dedicated to sport and health through physical activity.

But 2013 has also been a year during which we managed to bring to Vitoria-Gasteiz triathlon teams from Australia, Canada and the U.S.A., as well as the national swimming team of the latter, to optimally prepare for major international competitions; a year during which I contributed to the professional training of coaches in the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Italy, Israel, Uruguay, Chile, Spain and France; and a year during which good friends have attained or contributed to attain great sporting achievements: Ainhoa saw the light after a very complicated season full of difficulties, and earned her first ever World Cup victory; Eneko won two major Ironman races, in addition to his long desired tenth victory in a special triathlon such as Zarautz; Fred, Casti and Luis helped swimmers like Mireia, Melani and Lauren take a qualitative leap in their international performances; Julio has contributed to Juve’s second consecutive scudetto, and they are well on their way to a third; Joan has helped Rafa back to the World number one spot just when everything seemed to be lost; Jamie has turned his group into a world reference in Olympic distance triathlon. My most sincere congratulation to all of them.

Unfortunately, the 11th day of the 12th month of 2013 will remain in my memory as the saddest day of my life: the day that my mother left us. Ama maitea, beti izango zara gure artean. But life goes on, and although 2014 looks uncertain at the professional level, there’s no lack of projects, and there will be no lack of travels, sport and passion to continue doing what I like most surrounded by the people that I like best.

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