“I feel like I’ve just signed my first pro contract, I’m that keen to get started,” the Spaniard tells Cyclingnews.
Izagirre’s Tour de France – and season – went up in smoke on the same corner of the opening time trial as the one that put paid to Alejandro Valverde’s year, but with far less publicity than the Movistar rider. The bulk of the TV reports replayed Valverde’s spectacular skid across the Dusseldorf tarmac and crash into the barriers time and again. However, Izagirre’s crash, where he fractured a number of vertebrae in his lower back, ended up being almost eclipsed.
The damage to Izagirre’s career was arguably greater. Valverde, having swept all before him in the spring, was at the Tour to act as ‘Plan B’ for Nairo Quintana. But Izagirre was making his Grand Tour debut for Bahrain-Merida after an impressively consistent series of near-misses. He finished seventh in Paris-Nice, third in Pais Vasco, fifth in Liege-Bastogne-Liege, fifth in Romandie, second on the toughest stage of the Tour de Suisse and third in the Spanish Road Nationals.
What was missing was a win of some kind, and Izagirre went into the Tour feeling that his form and status as a protected rider within the Bahrain-Merida line-up would work in his favour. Instead, he ended up in a hospital in Dusseldorf, his season over.
Fast forward nearly five months and Izagirre is back on track – finally. He will aim at hitting the ground early and running in 2018, starting in the Tour Down Under with a dense program of racing up to and including – subject to final discussions with the team next week at their training camp and the pinning down of Vincenzo Nibali’s program – the Tour de France.
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