Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Andalucía stage 3

Euskaltel and Orbea were once again in the thick of the action today in Andalucía. On today's relatively flat stage 3 from Otura to Jaén, Urtasun and Orbea duo Zabalo and Cabedo were all on the attack in different breaks at various times in the race. The latter was especially impressive. After the first break in which he was a part of was reeled in, he attacked once again, this time along with Piedra and ex-Euskaltel rider Galdós. A brave attempt from the young newcomer at Orbea, but the plucky trio were caught with something like 15 clicks to go. In the sprint, Ventoso prevailed relatively easily. Designated sprinter Koldo Fernández was nowhere to be seen and finished 17th, but in his place stepped in Samu Sánchez to nab a good 7th. Another Orbea rookie, the ever-impressive Peio Bilbao, finished just ahead of Samu for a very creditable 6th place. Equally impressive was Ricardo García who grabbed 8th. All in all a stellar ride by the whole Orbea team. The class of '11, including the likes of Mr. Bilbao, Bagües, Cabedo and Bizkarra, certainly looks to be the real deal. All Euskaltel riders, with the exception of Sicard who lost 52 seconds by stage's end, cruised home in the pack. The same can be said for the other Orbea riders, except for Urain who crossed the line together with Sicard, and Cabedo who ended up 1:45 down after a brilliant day out.

The GC is finally poised going into the last couple of stages. Gladly, erstwhile Euskaltel rider Markel Irizar in clinging on to the leader's jersey, but Samu isn't out of the picture just yet, as he's ranked 12th at only 16 seconds. Bilbao is just another 10 seconds adrift, so there might still be a Fundación Euskadi representative among the, say, five best riders come race's end.

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