In a season marked by remarkable achievements and leaps in performance, the Laboral Kutxa-Euskadi Fundazioa cycling team has concluded its 2023 campaign with a sense of triumph and a wealth of lessons learned. With lofty ambitions aimed at reaching the WorldTour level, the team stands out as one of the most improved in the UCI rankings.
Ion Lazkano, the team’s sports director, offered a glowing evaluation of the year: “2023 has been an overwhelmingly positive year. We knew it would be challenging as expectations increased, but despite some initial setbacks, we’ve grown stronger as a team.”
Participation in 86 days of international racing, highlighted by seven Women’s WorldTour events, has resulted in a comprehensive campaign – the most extensive in the team’s history. Notably, Marta Romeu scored a landmark victory, becoming the first cyclist from Laboral Kutxa to win a UCI race at the Vuelta a Andalucia. The team’s performance has elevated them from 50th to 25th in the UCI rankings, achieving a six-fold increase in points compared to the previous year. Whilst that wasn’t enough to see them qualify for the Women’s WorldTour this year, it puts them on a strong track to seriously be in the mix over the 2-year qualification period.
In terms of individual achievements, riders like Debora Silvestri, Nadia Quagliotto, Yurani Blanco, and Alba Teruel have added to the team’s standing with top-10 finishes in various UCI calendar events. Joane Somarriba, an adviser who joined the team in 2023 and 2024, has also been credited for extending her experience and values to the riders. Lazkano adds, “We have prepared our riders for the challenges of 2024. I am confident they are ready.”
But the team’s commitment goes beyond rankings and victories. Laboral Kutxa-Euskadi Fundazioa is an advocate for gender equality in cycling and aims to offer young, local cyclists the opportunity to fulfil their sporting dreams.
The team has rounded off the year with a vision for 2024, starting with an off-season training camp in Elgoibar, Gipuzkoa, to establish base strategies. With their eyes set on the future, and with a number of strong signings for 2024 like Ane Santesteban, Laboral Kutxa-Euskadi Fundazioa’s trajectory indicates that it is a team to watch, poised for further growth and greater triumphs.