38. The Basque Country episode

Nov 25, 2015, 03:19 PM

November 25 | The latest episode of The Telegraph Cycling Podcast features a special report from the Basque Country.

Richard Moore introduces the region and the riders from a small pocket of northern Spain that is synonymous with world class cycling. Along with Flanders and Brittany it is one of the sport’s talent hotbeds, producing an extraordinary number of top riders – especially exciting climbers – as well as the most passionate fans.

The demise of the Euskaltel-Euskadi team at the end of 2013 was a huge blow for Basque cycling. Over almost two decades it gave more than 100 Basque riders an opportunity to turn professional and ride at the highest level. So what now – has the conveyor belt stopped, and has interest in the sport declined? Or will a new Basque team, Murias, fill the gap left by the orange-clad Euskaltel?

There are interviews with Mikel Landa, second in this year’s Giro d’Italia, who has signed for Team Sky – one of five Basque riders who will be on the British team in 2016 – and two veterans of the Trek Factory Racing team, Haimar Zubeldia and Markel Irizar.

Landa says he is up for the challenge of leading Team Sky into next year’s Giro: “After the Giro my head changed. I want want to win something, I want to be a leader, I want to have my opportunity. I could see there wasn’t place for another leader at Astana, and that’s why I changed team.”

The cycling culture has deep roots and as well as the riders the Basque Country has two major bicycle manufacturers, Orbea and BH. Richard tours the factory of Orbea, now a cooperative which this year is celebrating its 175th anniversary.

We also hear from Adam and Simon Yates, the twins who ride for Orica-GreenEdge, from an extended conversation with Lionel Birnie for our latest Friends Special.

The Telegraph Cycling Podcast is supported by Trainer Road.