Hundreds pay tribute to OrmaetxeaClose
Hundreds of mourners paid tribute to Costa de Almeria-Paternina rider Jokin Ormaetxea at his funeralPICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE Costa de Almeria-Paternina rider Jokin Ormaetxea was buried in the Basque town of Azkoitia yesterday (Monday) following his death in a car crash in the early hours of Sunday morning. Hundreds turned out to pay tribute to the 24-year-old first-year pro, who was travelling home after competing in an end-of-season race in the Basque Country. Euskaltel rider Joseba Albizu, who was driving the Audi A3 when it left the road near San Sebastian and flipped over as it crashed down an embankment, is reported to be improving slowly in a San Sebastian hospital. Albizu, 26, received a number of fractures and internal injuries in the crash, but is no longer on the critical list. Ormaetxea's coffin was carried into the church at Azkoitia by his training partners, Euskaltel's Haimar Zubeldia, Chocolade Jacques' Andoni Aranga, and Illes Balears' Aitor and Unai Osa. All of the quartet attended the same race and post-even party in Txitxarro on Saturday as Ormaetxea and Albizu. Also present were Ormaetxea's team managers at Costa de Almeria, Miguel Moreno and Juan Martinez Oliver, as well as the Euskaltel management team of Miguel Madariaga and Julian Gorospe. Many of the Basque Country's pro riders also paid their respects, including Euskaltel's Iban Mayo, David Etxebarria and Alberto Lopez de Munain, and Ag2r's I¤igo Chaurreau.