I forgot to mention one little detail. I've deliberately said very little about a certain someone during this series in order to pay tribute to most of his career, but I think he deserves a shout out this week. On Sunday the Alto de Altzo and Larraiz are two of the climbs which will feature in the 150 km long HZ Klasikoa with the start and finish being in his hometown of Zarautz.It's time for the grand finale to my Euskaltel-Euskadi Itzulia, and for this we return to the Basque Country for a hilly 268 km race which will finish in Getxo.
Getxo has been chosen because it was the scene of the last victory of the orginal E-E team; the 2013 Circuito de Getxo, won by the Wolf, Juan José Lobato. Lobato is of course also a part of the current team so that builds a nice bridge to the present and the future as well.
In 2009 it was Koldo Fernandez who was victorious in Getxo, but the profile of the race was easier in those days. Since then more climbing has been added to the course, and in recent years the steep Pike Bidea has been the major key point on the final lap, which has made the race more of a battle between well climbing sprinters, puncheurs and climbers.
In my race I've replaced the Pike Bidea with the Berriz/Bagatza side of Artxanda, which is a narrower road with worse surface than Bidea, but it still has percentages of well above 10% over 1.75 km. From the top the race has the same final as the current Circuito de Getxo, but the descent into town is a little bit shorter.
On the way to Getxo to race goes through/comes close to the hometowns and birth places of many people who have played a part in the nearly 30 year history of the Fundación Euskadi. Here are some of them:
Leitza: Mikel Nieve
Ormaiztegi: Ion and Gorka Izagirre
Zumárraga: Aitor Gonzalez
Oñati: Markel Irizar
Mondragón: Iván Velasco
Bergara: Mikel Aristi
Ermua: Aitor Galdós, Aitor Hernández, Peio Goikoetxea
Zaldibar: Rubén Pérez
Abadiño: David Etxebarria
Mañaria: Mikel Bizkarra, Julián and Rubén Gorospe
Vitoria-Gasteiz: Joseba Beloki (Beasain/Lazkao), Alberto López de Munain, Igor and Álvaro González de Galdeano, Koldo Fernandez, Jon Aberasturi
Murgia: Mikel Landa
Orozko: Gotzon Martín
Igorre: Iban Mayo
Amorebieta-Etxano: Beñat Intxausti
Galdakao: Igor Antón, also briefly home for Samuel Sánchez during his first year with the Olarra development team before he settled in Güeñes, south-west of Bilbao
Bilbao: David Herrero, Txema del Olmo, Iban Mayoz, Miguel Mínguez
Lemoiz: Miguel Madariaga
Getxo: Jonathan Castroviejo, Íñigo Landaluze
The race also features roads and climbs which have been used in races such as Gipuzkoa Klasikoa, Klasika Primavera, Subida a Urkiola, Euskal Bizikleta, Prueba Villafranca - Ordiziako Klasika, Gran Premio de Llodio, Vuelta al País Vasco/Itzulia, Vuelta a España and Circuito de Getxo. All races where E-E riders have showed their colours over the years.
Race 9 (8), 268 km, 4700m
The major climbs are these:
Arrate-Usartza (Krabelin): https://www.altimetrias.net/aspbk/verPuerto.asp?id=767
El Vivero: https://www.altimetrias.net/aspbk/verPuerto.asp?id=70
Artxanda (Berriz/Bagatza): https://www.altimetrias.net/aspbk/verPuerto.asp?id=19
Race 9b, 255 km, 4800-5000m
I wasn't a big fan of the flat section after Urkiola, which was required in order to get to Murgia, or the later visit to Amorebieta-Etxano, so I've also made a few other versions of the race. The first one is a little shorter, but also harder. It features most of the climbs from version one, but also has these other ones (plus it crosses the finish line twice):
My two last versions are both modifications of 9b, where either Isuskiza and Andraka are cut (9c, 238 km, 4400m) or those two plus Unbe are left out (9d, 227 km, 4200m).
I hope you have enjoyed this little trip down memory lane. But even if you haven't, I've cetainly had a blast, and I could easily have written longer posts and have added more pictures and videos, but I have tried to restrain myself a bit.
I have ideas for some one-day races in Austria as well as a vision for a Deutschland Tour, which I can now devote some of my time to.