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Zubeldia laments missing Tour, Vuelta

Basque all-rounder Haimar Zubeldia suffered a double-blow last week when he found out he wouldn’t be going to either the Tour de France or the Vuelta a España. Zubeldia’s non-starter Tour status for RadioShack wasn’t a big surprise after he broke his hand during a fall at the Critérium du…

Basque all-rounder Haimar Zubeldia suffered a double-blow last week when he found out he wouldn’t be going to either the Tour de France or the Vuelta a España.

Zubeldia’s non-starter Tour status for RadioShack wasn’t a big surprise after he broke his hand during a fall at the Critérium du Dauphiné, but the bigger shock was when the squad was not invited to participate in the 2010 Vuelta.

“That was more bad news,” Zubeldia said Friday. “The Vuelta was the second big goal of the season. It’s a decision I don’t understand. Ever since I raced the Vuelta for the first time, this will be the first year that I haven’t raced in a grand tour. It’s too bad, but I will work to recover and do the best as I can in the races that remain for us.”

To the surprise of many, RadioShack was not invited to start the 2010 Vuelta, even though Zubeldia and Levi Leipheimer were going to lead an all-star unit into the Spanish tour.

That news came on the heels of what wasn’t a complete surprise that Zubeldia would not be ready to start the Tour. He crashed in stage 1 at the Dauphiné and underwent surgery for a broken radial bone in his right hand.

Despite no complications with the surgery, Zubeldia knew he wouldn’t be ready to handle the Tour, especially with the cobblestones awaiting in the first week.

“These are difficult moments for a rider, when you’ve prepared since the beginning of the season for your favorite race and then you cannot go due to a crash,” he said. “It was a hard blow. We began to count the days to the start of the Tour – there were 26. There just wasn’t enough time, but speaking with the team doctor, we decided to give it a try.”

Zubeldia was operated on the day after the crash in San Sebastián and doctors put three metal screws into his wrist. Despite the successful operation, there just wasn’t enough time to recover and train properly for the demands of the Tour.

“The team was supporting me and giving me tranquility, but the final decision was mine,” he said. “Last Friday, after 10 days from the operation, I rode an hour and a half, and I could tell my hand needed to be still to fully recover. The decision was made: I could not go to the Tour. I told the team and they understood my decision. It was a difficult decision to make, but I am at peace that I at least tried.”