• Euskatel-Euskadi at their 2021 team training camp (Euskatel-Euskadi)Source: Euskatel-Euskadi
Vuelta a España organizers announced the teams selected for the 2021 edition of the race on Tuesday, revealing that three Spanish ProTeams will make the start alongside the 19 WorldTour squads and automatic invitees Alpecin-Fenix, which receives an invitation to all WorldTour races due to finishing atop the ProTeam rankings last year.
By
Jamie Finch-Penninger

18 Feb 2021 - 8:57 AM 

Burgos-BH, Caja Rural-Seguros RGA, and Euskaltel-Euskadi have received wildcard invitations to the 2021 Vuelta.

Burgos-BH and Caja Rural-Seguros RGA both raced the Spanish Grand Tour last year, while this year’s event will mark Euskaltel-Euskadi’s first appearance at the Vuelta since jumping up to the second division in 2020 and the first for the famous sponsor combination since the WorldTour team shut its doors in 2013. 

With the three aforementioned squads invited, Equipo Kern Pharma is the the lone Spanish-based ProTeam that will not be in attendance.

Euskaltel-Euskadi was inextricably linked with both a visual and cultural identity distinct to the Basque region of Spain and their title sponsors. Their fans were a fixture of Tour de France Pyrenees stages and the Vuelta a Espana when it ventured to the north.

They were a de-facto national squad for the nationless Basque, who have pushed for independence from Spain.

The demise of the squad was a sad one, the squad was famous for being almost entirely Basque, but a series of doping cases and lack of success in the late 2000s meant that they had to sign outside their region to secure the requisite WorldTour points to compete at the top level. 

At their best, they were renowned for their attacking style in the mountains, with one of their few non-Basque riders, Asturias local Samuel Sanchez winning the Olympics road race in 2008 and sporting a distinctive gold bike and helmet.

Taking up sponsorship of a Spanish Continental team, Fundacion Euskadi, which took the leap to Pro Team status in 2020, Euskatel-Euskadi will now race at the top level in Spain's biggest race. 

Arkea-Samsic are perhaps the biggest omissions from the Vuelta a Espana, missing out on wildcard selection to the Giro d'Italia and now the Spanish Grand Tour as well. Arkea's star rider Nairo Quintana, who won the Vuelta back in 2016, will now be limited to riding the Tour de France this year in his bid to add to his two Grand Tour victories.

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