Markel Irizar Aranburu (born February 5, 1980 in Oñati, Basque Country) is a Spanish professional road racing cyclist who most recently rode for UCI Pro Team Euskaltel-Euskadi. He turned professional in 2004 with Euskaltel and has remained with that team for the last 6 years. He is one of three Spaniards on Team RadioShack along with Haimar Zubeldia and Jose Luis Rubiera.
He started cycling seriously at the age of 14 after following his father, a big fan, to many races. As previously reported, he has a particular bond with Lance Armstrong, both having completely recovered from the very same illness. While Irizar was still a junior rider in 1996 he wrote Lance a letter wishing him a speedy recovery when he heard of his testicular cancer diagnosis. Irizar could not have known that years later in 2002, he himself would contract the same disease and a world-famous rider would find the time to return those same wishes.
With Euskaltel he has ridden primarily in a support role for the likes of Iban Mayo, Samuel Sánchez and Haimar Zubeldia on a team historically known for its climbing strength. Well versed in many of the major European races he also has considerable experience in both the Vuelta España and the Giro d’Italia. His major results include: 1st Stage 1 Bidasoa Itzulia in 2002, 2nd in the Prologue of Paris-Nice in 2008, Winner Mountain Classification Stage 3 and 2nd overall Mountains Classification the Tour Down Under 2009.
By George Hurst