Igor Anton. Downhill since 2010 Vuelta.
Feeling bad for Euskatel orphan Igor Anton. One of the optimistic suckers along with Samuel Sanchez who hoped Formula 1 driver Fernando Alonso would rescue the team, he still has no ride for the coming season. He’s even thinking of moving to Colombia just for the chance to pin on a number.
We’ve held a certain appreciation for Anton based on the way he handled the 2010 Vuelta a Espana. He won two stages, wore the red leaders’s jersey and was in a strong position to win the overall when a freak crash broken his arm.
That grand tour win would have catapulted Aton up the ranks and into a bigger paycheck but he took the catastrophe with a philosophical attitude. “Unfortunately, I’m getting used to this kind of situation,” Anton said to Velonews. “When things were going well at the Vuelta, I stayed calm, and I kept my feet on the ground. Now I’ll keep the same approach although my race has ended in an unexpected manner.”
You have to love the classy understatement of “ended in an unexpected manner.” What is pretty expected is that Anton would have trouble finding a new team when the Alonso bailout evaporated so late in the signing season.
It’s no secret that the 2010 Vuelta was the high water mark in his career and since then he’s had less success. He picked up a Giro d’Italia and Vuelta stage win the next season but in 2013 he was largely invisible — an 8th in Flèche Wallonne being his most notable effort.
Still, Anton is only 30 thirty years of age and presumably has gas left in the tank. That and a change of scenery and a jersey that isn’t orange could reinvigorate his career.
There’s an irony in the fact that both Anton and Chris Horner are without contracts, as the Vuelta a Espana has been a highlight for the two riders. After winning this years’ edition, Horner also remains unsigned, his price tag shrinking daily along with his hopes. Horner had also hoped to ink a deal with Alonso’s re-tagged Euskatel squad. Nada chance.
When Aton crashed out of the 2010 Vuelta, Katusha’s Joaquim Rodriguez said “That’s a pity about Anton’s fall, but this is cycling. He young and I’m sure the future is for him.”
Right now, the future doesn’t look near as promising.