Egoi Martinez: Feliz cumpleaños.
Egoi comes from Navarre, also the home of Miguel Indurain, where their inclination is to speak Spanish, rather than Basque. Egoi’s one of Euskaltel-Euskadi’s ‘senior citizens’ but at 34 years young he’s hoping to carry on riding competitively for the next couple of years.
Like many riders, Egoi was inspired by his two older brothers to take up cycling. Aged seven, he started riding with the Lakunza Aralar Cycling Club based in Navarra. Having won a few races, he passed into the hands of the Irabia sports team where he particularly enjoyed weekends riding and competing around the Basque country.
Emboldened by his growing palmares, Egoi decided he wanted to be a professional rider but initially found it difficult to juggle the dual demands of studying and racing. Encouraged by his directeur sportif, Oscar Guerrero, he decided to gamble everything on becoming a professional rider, after gaining a degree in economics. It’s a gamble which has paid off.
He’s now in his eleventh season as a professional, all but two of which – 2006-2007 with Discovery Channel – have been spent with Euskaltel-Euskadi.
He’s got a solid rather than spectacular palmares and has won the King of the Mountains jersey in a number of major tours. It was this ability in the high mountains that earned him a berth riding for the American team, where he helped Alberto Contador to his first Tour win in 2007.
His fondest memory of his time with Discovery was his victory on stage 11 of the Vuelta a Espana in 2006. He returned ‘home’ to Euskaltel in 2008 and almost won a mountain stage in that year’s Tour de France from a breakaway but lost out to Simon Gerrans (Credit Agricole, now Orica-GreenEDGE).
His disappointment was soothed by wearing the leader’s jersey at the Vuelta a Espana for five days later that year, where he posted his best Grand Tour result: ninth overall.
If those were his highlights to date, the lowlight had to be his departure from the 2010 Vuelta, along with race leader and teammate Igor Anton, through injuries sustained in a crash on stage 14 after a clash of wheels on a benign stretch of road.
According to his website, his favourite dishes are those cooked by his mother! Egoi, I do hope your wife hasn’t seen that comment, otherwise … Interestingly, his favourite rider is Jan Ullrich, his favourite event the Tour and he just loves the Galibier – a glutton for punishment. His favourite book, La Colmena (The Hive) was written by Camio Jose Cela in 1951 and examines events over three days in the cafe La Delicia in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War.
As his career winds towards a conclusion, he’s planning on providing team mate Samuel Sanchez with sterling support in the mountains during this year’s Tour de France. He’d like to prolong his career as long as possible but recognises he may soon have to address what he’s going to do in the future. The challenge will be to find something which gives him the same satisfaction as riding his bike – no mean feat!