Friday, April 15, 2011

Castilla y León: stage 3

Igor Antón showed his form is picking up just at the right time for next month's Giro with a solid, if somewhat timid, display in today's queen-stage of the Vuelta a Castille y León. The third stage from Benavente to the top of the cat. 1 Laguna de los Peces was seen as an important one for Antón to gauge his form ahead of May's big rendez-vous, and the diminutive climber will be quietly pleased with his fourth place on the day. As anticipated, Contador took off inside the last five kilometres and looked to be at his swashbuckling best. A mistimed puncture put paid to his hopes of winning the stage and opened the door to an attack from the promising but unheralded Filippo Savini, who powered alone to win the stage solo by seven seconds over Mollema and team-mate Pozzovivo. In fourth, at ten seconds, was Antón, quickly followed by overall favourite Tondo. Though escorted expertly by lieutenant Mikel Nieve up the climb and the race almost inviting an attack after Contador's mishap, the expected surge from Antón just wasn't coming. Though fourth at such a race is nothing to be ashamed of, Antón admitted post-stage that his form wasn't at 100% just yet. "I felt pretty good but I'm just missing that little bit", he told the team's website. "Today's stage was an important test for the Giro and the result is satisfactory, my preparation is going well. The final climb wasn't really suited to me, but I was still ahead and kept Tondo in check. He looks to be the strongest rider in this race, yet when he attacked I could follow. Alas I'm happy." One who's not likely to be equally happy is Miguel Minguez. The young escalador hit the deck rather badly after only 30 clicks of riding or so, and was left with a huge gash on his right arm. Together with a few other riders he was rushed to hospital and naturally had to abandon the race. Reports coming in says he needed more than a dozen stitches to patch the wound up. Orbea rider Beñat Urain was also taken to hospital, more on his status later.

Javier Aramendía spent the majority of the day up ahead in the break, showing his form has picked up considerably after taking part in all the cobbled classics. Nieve looked closed to his best on the last climb, shepherding Antón all the way, eventually finishing a nice 21st, just 1:o2 down. Breakaway hero Aramendía ended up 32nd at 3:35, while R Pérez and Azanza came in with a group 11:23 adrift. Cazaux and Sesma both ended up 23:20 in arrears. Orbea stage results:

  • 14, Ricardo García, 0:28
  • 27, Victor Cabedo, 2:35
  • 37, Mikel Bizkarra, 4:56
  • 74, Adrián Sáez, 15:46
  • 94, Aritz Etxebarria, 23:20
  • 104, Jon Aberasturi, 24:21
  • 105, Noel Martín, s.t.

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