Monday, September 27, 2010

Languedoc-Roussillon wrap

The three-day Tour de Gévaudan Languedoc-Roussillon stage-race in France came to a close today. Orbea sent a potent six-man squad to the event and came within wiskers of taking out the opening-day team time trial. Over a ridiculously short 1,3km course, the team lost out by a few hundreths of a second to Team Vulco to finish an agonizing second. But no matter how bitter, it was still an excellent ride. But that was as good as it got for the guys in blue really, as they struggled to impose themselves on the following two stages. Joseba Larralde finished highest in 22nd place on the hilly second stage, 5:08 down. Xabier Zabalo ad Jon Izagirre were 33rd and 34th respectively at 12:43, Andoni Blázquez and Noel Martín ended up 55th and 56th at 20:15, while Aritz Etxebarria found the going way too tough, crossing the line in 88th place, a full 45:34 in arrears. Day three was equally tough on the riders with the stage going to the top of the Montée Laurent Jalabert in Mende. The guys fared better though, Zabalo grabbing a fine 16th at 1:12. Martín was 25th at 13 seconds further back, while Blázquez was another seven seconds adrift. Larralde was 37th at 2:05, Etxebarria 40th at 2:21, while Izagirre junior came in with the last group at 7:25. Naturally these results didn't make for high overall placings, with Larralde 22nd, Zabal 29th, Izagirre 37th, Martín 42nd, Blázquez 43rd and Etxebarria 69th. In the team rankings, Orbea grabbed eighth out of the 13 participating teams. While the riders struggled on the hilly stages, the team chiefs, led by the excellent Álex Díaz, will no doubt be encouraged by the team's super ride in the TTT.

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