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Discovery Channel are set to sign Euskaltel's Egoi Martinez, and are also being linked with two more Spanish riders, Saunier Duval's Jos Gomez Marchante and Illes Balears' Xabier Zandio.
2003 Tour de l'Avenir winner Martinez, 27, is expected to sign a two-year contract with the American team at this weekend's San Sebastian Classic. Euskaltel team boss Miguel Madariaga told El Diario Vasco that "we were able to match the offer made, but the call of Discovery Channel has resonated strongly for Egoi on a lot of levels.
"In situations like this we can't do anything," Madariaga added. "I have spoken with [Discovery boss Johan] Bruyneel, and I know that the rider says that he owes us a lot, but you don't receive offers from Discovery every day."
Martinez's only win in four years as a pro was that Avenir victory, but he has not since developed into the stage race contender that was expected. Speaking to procycling earlier this year, Madariaga said he was disappointed with Martinez's lack of progress, but put it down to the fact that the Tour de l'Avenir is no longer the accurate gauge of talent it once was.
Although Martinez has not developed into the strong climber that he was widely tipped to be, there are suggestions that the recent lack of success among Euskaltel riders is partly the result of lack of adequate coaching by the team's management. Madariaga has strongly denied reports in the Spanish press that he has been considering replacing team manager Julian Gorospe, but stories are still circulating about the team looking for an experienced coach to work with Gorospe.
Gomez Marchante, who signed for Phonak at the start of this season but then managed to get out of that deal and join Saunier Duval, is now reported to be on the verge of buying himself out of the second year of his Saunier contract. The Spanish press is also reporting Bruyneel's interest in emerging Classics specialist Zandio.
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