Saturday, April 12, 2008

Egoi wins mountains jersey

For the second year running, Euskaltel have won the mountains classification in their home race. Egoi secured his win on today's climbs in impressive fashion by once again breaking clear of the pack. He therefore succeeds Aitor Hernández, who won the coveted jersey last year. After much back and forth, with riders trying to break clear left and right, among them Iñaki, Jorge, Amets and Iván, a duo managed to get clear; Egoi and Austrian super-climber Bernhard Kohl. The pair were never allowed too big a gap, and was as expected reeled back in with some 20 kilometres to ride. Nevertheless it was impressive from Egoi; surely he'll win the "most aggressive rider" competition in the race tomorrow.

The real race began when the duo had been caught and the climbing began. Mikel and Igor both looked good. Igor launched two attacks on the climb, but didn't get anywhere, while Mikel tried his luck with a powerful surge with 4 kilometres to go. It wasn't to be for any of them though, as a crash from Herrero inside the last 500 metres ruined their chances for stage victory. Eventually Mikel ended up a very good 9th, at the same time as winner Cunego, while Igor ended up 10th, 20 seconds down. Stage results:

  • 9th, Mikel Astarloza, 0:00
  • 10th, Igor Antón, 0:20
  • 54th, Egoi Martínez, 6:08
  • 56th, Amets Txurruka, 8:24
  • 84th, Jorge Azanza, 21:06
  • 91st, Iñaki Isasi, 30:27
  • 92nd, Iñigo Landaluze, s.t.
  • 98th, Iván Velasco, s.t.

This leaves us with an interesting GC going into the last stage; a 20 kilometre individual time trial:

  • 6th, Mikel Astarloza, 0:08
  • 12th, Igor Antón, 0:28
  • 49th, Egoi Martínez, 9:52
  • 52nd, Amets Txurruka, 11:15
  • 75th, Jorge Azanza, 26:01
  • 86th, Iván Velasco, 32:26
  • 87th, Iñigo Landaluze, 34:50
  • 91st, Iñaki Isasi, 37:20

I reckon Mikel has a really good shot on a podium place overall tomorrow. Okay, Contador's not bad, but 8 seconds in a 20 kilometre ITT is definetely possible. And he should no doubt be able to beat Kirchen, Cunego and Herrero, who are all 8 seconds down on Contador as well. Evans and Dekker will be hard to beat, but Mikel looks to be in peak condition at the moment, so I wouldn't rule that out. Aupa Mikel!

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