Now that the cycling calendar has shaken due to the pandemic and some are feeling the edge of the apocalypse, it should be remembered that this is an unbeatable sport. Neither wars nor scandals have dealt with him in more than a century. The 2020 Tour of the Basque Country has been suspended. To return to. It was already buried between 1936, the beginning of the civil war, and 1968. It was resurrected in 1969. A year later, on April 19, 1970, just today half a century ago, the Biscayan Luis Pedro Santamarina became the first Basque runner to inscribe his name on the track record of the race.

The Gallarta cyclist died in 2017, at the age of 74 and after almost three decades in his Portugalete bicycle workshop. Champion of Spain in 1967, Santamarina knocked down in that edition of Itzulia the tremendous KAS team de Linares, Aurelio González, Gandarias, Gabika, Zubero, Galdos, López Carril, Elorza, Echeverría and Gómez del Moral. Santamarina, wearing Werner’s jersey, resisted against KAS, Fagor de Perurena and Bic de Aranzabal and Janssen, and celebrated the victory in Eibar, from where this April has not been able to leave the round.

He made history for Basque cycling, although he did not avoid oblivion. “I have come to read that Julián Gorospe was the first Basque winner of the round,” he complained on more than one occasion. The list of local winners is short: Santamarina in 1970, Miguel Mari Lasa (1974), Gorospe (1983 and 1990), Pello Ruiz Cabestany (1985), Aitor Osa (2002), Iban Mayo (2003) and Ion Izagirre last year. . They are joined by two runners trained in the Basque Country: Íñigo Cuesta (1998) and Samuel Sánchez (2012). Santamarina opened the door for them.

Classification Tour of the Basque Country

1970 edition

1. L. P. Santamarina (Werner)

25.00.45

2. Jesús Aranzabal (Bic)

at 41 s

3. Andrés Gandarias (KAS)

to 49

4. Vicente López Carril (KAS)

at 1m.05

5. Txomin Perurena (Fagor)

at 1.43

6. A. Gómez del Moral (KAS)

at 1.58

7. Ventura Díaz (Werner)

to 3.35

8. Agustín Tamames (Werner)

to 3.43

9. R. Berland (Bic)

to 4.50

10. Aurelio González (Kas)

to 7.07

Beans and everything

He ran five Tours, won two stages in the Vuelta and one in the Giro, and was champion of Spain the day of 1967 in which another Biscayan, Valentín Uriona, left his life on that road in Sabadell. There was something tragic about that cycling: a car crushed the Burgos-born Talamillo on New Year’s Eve in 1965; a year earlier, Juan Campillo had been killed by a truck. They say they saw him cover his face with his coat and throw himself onto the road. Not long ago, two other cyclists, Raúl Motos and Joaquín Polo, had died in the Vuelta a Portugal due to something that sounds impossible today: thirsty.

Santamarina, on the other hand, was almost knocked down by excess food in the Basque round of 1970. He had argued with Manzaneque, its director at Werner, after retiring in the Amorebieta classic. They almost messed with cakes. So much anger arose that Santamarina ran home to Gallarta. For two days, Monday and Tuesday, he forgot about the bicycle. “I ate beans and everything”. Manzaneque went to look for him on Wednesday of that week to play the Tour of the Basque Country, which started just 24 hours later.

The first stage left Eibar on the slope of Elgeta. Snorted «I had to ask for scissors because the culotte was squeezing me. He had put on weight. I held on as I could, “said Santamarina. It supported the rate and the overweight. The subsequent digestion was already much better. As he said, cyclists lose shape in one corner and recover it in the next.

In the second stage (Bilbao-Vitoria) Janssen, Gabika and Echeverría sank. In the time trial sector (Estella-Pamplona, ​​47 km) on the third day, Santamarina dressed as the leader by finishing third after Carlos Echevarria and Janssen. Three days after the binges, he had regained his best shape. That week, Bizkaia was pending Athletic, which in the end could not win the League against Atlético de Madrid. In EL CORREO, José María Mujica summed up the season this way: «There has been plenty of triumphalism and there has been a lack of heart. There has been a lack of quality even though there has been strength football ».

While Athletic settled for the runner-up, Santamarina remained standing in the face of KAS’s final offensive. “I let Gandarias go and kept him a hundred yards away. The fourth stage ended at the Anoeta velodrome and I entered about 15 seconds from Gandarias. Then I let go because I knew that the times were caught at the entrance to the track. Langarica (director of the KAS) protested but it was no use to him ». Santamarina also resisted on the final day, Pamplona-San Sebastián, the attacks of Aranzabal, Aurelio González and López Carril, and today 50 years ago he put his name, the first of a Basque, in the golden book of the race that this year , things the virus, may go blank.

Santamarina had a bike shop in Portugalete. / Pedro Urresti
Izagirre, last winner, confined to Abadiño

Ion Izagirre, last winner of Itzulia, passes the confinement in Abadiño, with his wife and two daughters. In January, when the coronavirus was not even mentioned, he declared that he would go “for all” to repeat his victory in the Vueta al País Vasco, which had to be canceled due to the pandemic. “Now we have to wait and be home,” he says. Spend your days with a double roll session. He is not very optimistic about the resumption of the season. “I trust that they will let us go out and train on the road to prepare for the races.” Meanwhile, it has an advantage to endure the isolation: «I am very homey».

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