Sunday, September 05, 2010

Antón in red

For only the second time in the team's history, an Euskaltel rider has pulled on the leader's jersey in a Grand Tour. Egoi Martínez was the first to do so two years back in the same race, and this time it's Igor Antón's turn to swap the orange of Euskaltel for the red of the leader. Igor acquired it by finishing alongside fellow GC rivals Nibali and Rodríguez on the hilly stage to Xorret del Catí which included the ascent of the same name. Moncoutié, predictably, slipped away for his compulsory solo stage-win, while some of the remnants of the break took second through fourth at 54 seconds. Igor's group, the first of the contenders', finished at 1:29, meaning he now heads the overall classification tied on time with Purito. The trio of Nibali, Antón and Purito, which at some points, depending on the pace, was a quintet including Cervélo mates Sastre and Tondo, seemed equally matched on the gruelling, unrelentingly steep Xatí ascent, the trio taking turns at attacking each other. The pace was ferocious at times, resulting in a number of GC aspirants ceding valuable seconds and, in some cases, minutes. Urán and Bruseghin lost 20 seconds, Danielson, Plaza, Roche and the still strong Mikel Nieve lost 31, while more importantly Mosquera ended up 33 adrift, F Schleck a big 1:37 and Menchov, thought to be suffering from an early crash, a potentially decisive 2:16. Superb day in other words, and Igor, Nibali and Purito no doubt seem to be the strongest. As for the other Euskaltel guys, Nieve was as mentioned close to his best once again, finishing 16th at two minutes, while Amets Txurruka had an encouraging ride to 30th place, 3:09 down, crossing the line with a bunch of good climbers. Oroz and Martínez both lost 7:05 by stage's end, Verdugo, who suffered the misfortune of crashing quite hard with less than 15km to go, lost 13:29, while Beñat Intxausti failed to get out of his misery by coming in with the autobus, including Koldo and Urtasun, at 20:51. Overall, Igor heads up the rankings time on time with Purito, while Nibali is just two seconds back. Nieve is a strong 19th. While it's obviously great to take the jersey, I must say I'm a little concerned at what it might do to the team. Getting it will result in having to take control over the pack tomorrow, and, let's face it, Euskaltel don't really have the strength in depth in this race to do that for a very long time. Losing it would be a shame, but it migth be a blessing in disguise if that was to happen.


arnout said...

I always find it funny that Euskaltel, when the guys win a stage or are in the lead in a GT, can't be bothered anymore to publish a proper story on their website. Posting a few links to newspapers and party afterwards will do.

Agree with you on the rest.

Magnus said...

Yeah I agree, they seem to be partying up big time these days!


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