Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Great Escape

Always the pessimist, I seriously thought the Tour was over for Euskaltel today. When Samu lost contact on the Aspin, that early on in the race with, what, 170km to go, I felt that was it. The off-day that would ruin everything. But Samu once again proved me wrong with his exceptional ability to stay calm and ride his own tempo and not go into the red zone too early. He's a master in measuring his forces. As you'd know by now he easily regained contact on the descent and stayed with the lead group all the way 'til Pau. "Why the headline 'The Great Escape'?", you're probably asking. What I mean is that Samu got out of jail today. Had the Lotto directors been smart they would have ordered Lloyd, Aerts and Moreno to up the tempo when Samu, Gesink and Purito was out the back and distanced them when they had the chance. Instead, to my great relief, they played it badly and slowed the tempo right down, allowing them to rejoin the lead group. They could really have put the pressure on and potentially have broken Samu and co., but for one reason or another they decided not to. Galdeano wil probably send them flowers tomorrow. He should; Lotto's actions, or lack of actions rather, probably saved Euskaltel's Tour. You won't hear me complaining, but man did they waste it. As the tempo dropped even more as the stage unfolded, Alán, Egoi and Gorka were able to rejoin the pack along with a hord of riders and thus be there for Samu. All three came in with Samu's group, while Rubén came in with the first big gruppetto at 23:42, while Iñaki and Iván ended up in the last big group at 34:48. After the race, Samu explained what happened at the Aspin. "A Lotto rider upped the pace and a gap opened up", he told the team's website. "I knew that they wouldn't be able to sustain that pace all the way to the line, so instead of accelerating to stay with them I maintained a steady pace and controlled the situation. It's important to porsion out your efforts and stay calm. I'm feeling good and will try to keep it up until we reach Paris."

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