Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Catalunya stage 3

Euskaltel failed to put their mark on today's hilly third stage of the Volta a Catalunya. The 183,9km ride from La Vall d'En Bas to the top of the hors carégorie climb to Andorra-Vallnord should have suited an Euskaltel team consisting of climbers like Antón, Sicard, Nieve and Minguez to a tee. As the racing got underway, though, they were nowhere to be seen. Antón and Minguez were the two furthest ahead, finishing in 31st and 32nd respectively, both at exactly two minutes. Okay ride by both I guess, as Antón is aiming for May and shouldn't really be approaching top form just yet, while youngster Minguez is still finding his feet at the top level. Nieve was a further 27 seconds adrift, while Rubén Pérez and Sicard both crossed the line 12 minutes back. Today's ride might suggest Romain isn't totally back to his best after knee trouble put him out of the Paris-Nice, and he faces a race against time to be fit for early April's big rendez-vous: the Vuelta al País Vasco. The trio of Alan Pérez, Pierre Cazaux and Jon Izagirre came home with the gruppetto at 23:38. So, as none of the riders are supposed to be in top shape at the moment, I guess one can't really expect more in what is a ProTour race after all. But on a hilly day like this, placing a rider in the main break wouldn't be a bad idea.

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