Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (born April 1, 1977 in Usurbil, Basque Country) is a 32-year old Spanish road racing veteran who most recently rode for UCI Pro Team Astana. He turned professional with Euskaltel-Euskadi in 1998 staying with them for 11 straight seasons before switching to Astana in 2009. His strengths as an excellent climber and good time trialest have propelled him into becoming one of the more consistent performers in the many Grand Tours in which he has appeared (16 to date with 4 top ten finishes).
Partially funded by the local government, the Euskaltel-Euskadi Team limits itself to cyclists who come from the relatively small Basque region of Spain. While producing an amazing talent pool for such limited geography, it has been stated that individual results through the years have suffered for a lack of a well rounded mix of overall strengths to support team stars. In that light the excellent records of long-term members such as Zubeldia become even more impressive.
His major results include: 1st overall and 1st Stage 4 Euskal Bizikleta, 1st Young Rider Competition and 2nd overall Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré and 10th overall Vuelta a España in 2000, 5th Stage 18 Vuelta a España in 2001, 1st Young Rider Competition Critérium de Dauphiné Libéré in 2002, 5th overall Tour de France 2003, 3rd overall Vuelta Asturias and 5th overall Euskal Bizikleta in 2004, 7th overall Clásica San Sebastián in 2005, 8th overall Tour de France in 2006, 5th overall Tour de France 2007, 3rd overall Volta a Catalunya and 1st Stage 4 (TTT) Tour de France in 2009.
In the midst of a swirling controversy, Zubeldia knew his decision to break from Astana and fellow countryman Alberto Contador would not to be the most popular back home. He corrected the record by stating that he was not choosing sides between Lance Armstrong and Alberto but simply making the best move for himself professionally. Saying further that his decision was based solely upon his admiration and respect for Team Director Johan Bruyneel and the chance to compete with the powerful organization being assembled at Team RadioShack. He has the distinction of being the 100th rider to race for Bruyneel.
By George Hurst