Madariaga counter-attacks. again

Thursday, July 15, 2004 11.00pm
Euskaltel boss Miguel Madariaga has again defended his team's reputation. and expects Iban Mayo to s
PICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE Euskaltel head honcho Miguel Madariaga has responded with a message of defiance to suggestions that his team's image has been badly tarnished by the recent failed blood tests of two of its riders, David Etxebarria and Gorka Gonzalez. Speaking to French newspaper L'Equipe, Madariaga mounted the latest defence of his team after his pubic spat with Brioches La Boulangre chief Jean-Ren Bernaudeau last week. Madariaga threatened Bernaudeau with legal action after the Frenchman implied that the cases of Etxebarria and Gonzalez could point to a general lack of ethics at Euskaltel. "Of course, our image has been tarnished, even if things have been blown out of proportion," Madariaga commented. "One day I would like to invite anyone who's interested in our team to see what resonance we have in the Basque country. Euskadi-Euskaltel is much more than a sports team, it's an identity. "I preside over an association which, besides the professional cycling team, takes care of a pedagogic unit for children between the ages of six and 12, which teaches children about cycling, and how to develop their knowledge of the sport," Madariaga continued. "We come into schools to teach the basics of this magnificent sport. This year 12,400 boys and girls passed through these courses. When people speak about Euskadi-Euskaltel, they should be aware of that. We bring a lot to cycling and no one can ever take that away from us." According to Madariaga, at least 85,000 Basques will journey over the Spanish border to follow the Pyrenean double-header at La Mongie and Plateau de Beille on Friday and Saturday. The Euskaltel chief believes that both they and Lance Armstrong will "soon see a very fine Iban Mayo". "I can assure you that Mayo is there, make no mistake. and that he'll soon let everyone know about it," Madariaga said. "He doesn't need much to rediscover the form he had at the Dauphin Libr. He just needs something to click, or a moment on a mountain pass when he feels really good."

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