It's fair to say that Prendas Ciclismo is greater than the sum of its parts.
In the (brave new) world of social media - they are often referred to as influencers - but in our world they are friends and Robert (seen above with Trek–Segafredo's Basque rider Markel Irizar Aranburu) is one of those Prendas People.
So sit back and enjoy his take on the up and coming Euskadi kit from Etxeondo.
I became a big fan of the Euskadi team when it appeared on the scene in 1994.
I liked how the team was created, thanks to Miguel Madariaga and several of his friends, and I immediately fell in love with the team philosophy of hiring only Basque riders or others who had developed in many of the Basque amateur teams.
I looked everywhere to buy the original white, green, and red Euskadi kit which was in the colours of the Ikurriña Basque flag and after many fruitless searches, I came across an advertisement in the now-defunct Cycle Sport magazine that was offering both ONCE and Euskadi kit.
I finally found the Holy Grail - I wasted no time in calling with Mick answered the phone. His passion for Etxeondo kit and mine for the Euskadi sealed a long and dear friendship that has lasted since then.
This close friendship now includes Andy Storey, who has taken the reins of Prendas Ciclismo and, like Mick, treats me with tender loving care.
Clockwise: The original Euskadi, the Euskaltel/Euskadi, the orange Euskaltel the yellow ONCE team jersey and the pink/Tour de France ONCE jersey.
Thanks to my good friend Mick, I was able to obtain the famous Euskadi kit and then later the different versions of the Euskaltel-Euskadi kit. Mick was instrumental in me obtaining a team-issue Zeus Euskadi bike which was Igor Gonzàlez de Galdeano’s spare bike in his first year as a pro with the team, which I am still riding today, despite the bike being over 20 years old!
Mick later sent me an upgrade too - a team-issue Orbea Columbus Starship aluminium frame - which the team used in the early 2000’s.
Eskerrikasko Mikel! Zuzara nagusia!
Thank you very much Mick. You are great!
I finally had the chance to personally meet the team in October 1999 at a low-key race in Granada, Andalucìa. When I saw the team vehicles in the distance during my walk to their hotel, tears came to my eyes as I realized that I was about to accomplish my dream of meeting my favourite team.
Even though I am not Basque, but American, the team welcomed me with open arms and they were all very happy to sign autographs and pose for photos. I spent a wonderful day with them at the race.
I became a dues-paying, card-carrying member of the Fundaciòn Ciclista Euskadi in 2002, and I still am today. For many years I was the only member of the Fundaciòn in Italy. Once Euskaltel-Euskadi obtained Pro Tour status and started racing coming in Italy, I was able to spend more time with the team. I still have very fond memories of the time when I took them on a short training ride the day before the start of a Tirreno-Adriatico which started in Tivoli.
What a huge emotion that I was able to ride with my idols, including Vuelta and Tour stage winner Roberto Laiseka! The riders had no qualms about having a “punter” ride with them, and they even appreciated my knowledge of the local roads to avoid all the traffic there was when we started out.
Every time the team came to the Rome area I would go to see them and spend the day as their Tifoso Numero Uno. I had the privilege of spending time in their team cars during stages of the Tirreno-Adriatico and the Giro d’Italia, I had the pleasure of eating meals with the team staff, and I even appeared in the team’s quarterly fan magazine.
I was even mentioned as the team’s biggest supporter because I was constantly sending them e-mails of encouragement, congratulations for victories and good results, and even to wish “Urtebetetze On”(happy birthday) to the riders and staff.
Robert with Ivàn Velasco and Jon Izaguirre Insausti at the 2011 edition of Tirreno - Adriatico.
The team ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS made me feel part of the Euskaltel-Euskadi family. I always appreciated this, and I did feel quite privileged to be able to live such experiences which very, very few cycling fans can live.
Even when the team unfortunately disappeared, riders and staff still recognize me and stop for a quick chat. The proof of this took place last year in Rieti at the start of Stage 5 of the Tirreno-Adriatico. Ex-Euskaltel riders Markel Irizar and Mikel Landa were more than willing to talk for a few minutes. In addition, I met an ex-team mechanic who works for Movistar and Josu Larrazabal, the Trek-Segafredo coach. Now that's what I call fan appreciation.
It was indeed a sad, sad day in cycling when the team folded at the end of 2013.
Fortunately, the orange team is back on the roads and is already mixing it up with the big hitters, and just like in 1994, these young txirrindularis are punching above their weight as a Continental team.
My dream that the Fundaciòn Ciclista Euskadi would create a new pro team has come true, once again thanks to the new Basque hope Mikel Landa, with those distinctive orange jerseys.
With Etxeondo providing the clothing, Orbea the bikes and plus the ‘socios’ or members of the Fundaciòn still paying a yearly fee to help support the Fundaciòn, it really is back to the Future for this Basque cycling team.
What more can I say but Aupa Euskadi!