Thursday, April 21, 2011

Fleche Wallonne

Brilliant display by Euskaltel in Fleche today. Third for Samu and fifth for Antón capped off a good team performance, and frankly there was no way to beat Gilbert today so a podium in a race of this calibre is no mean feat. Velasco and Verdugo kept the race under control inside the last 20k, and when the riders started to make their way up the Mur the last time the Euskaltel duo was in the mix all the way and secured vital points towards the WorldTour rankings. I have to say though that I believe both of them might have finished even higher if their position at the foot of the climb had been a little better. Samu was too far back when Gilbert and Rodríguez took off, and Antón somehow started the finale probably 3o riders back or something. Samu probably wouldn't have been able to go with the top two anyway so it doesn't really matter, and he comfortably held off Vino for third, but looking at the effortless pedalling of Antón I can't help but feel he could have finished top 3 as well if he'd just been where he ought to be to begin with. The tactics left something to be desired but most importantly Antón looks to be approaching top form with the Giro just 16 days away. He'll be one to watch on Sunday as well. If Samu and Antón can take advantage of the fact that they're two of the favourites on the same team, and ride aggressively, one of them might just grab the win in Liège. They've both got it in them that's for sure. Gladly all eight riders finished the race. Castroviejo came through his first Fleche unscathed is 85th, 2:18 down, while the trio of Martínez, Velasco and Verdugo all came in at 2:34 in places 90 through 92 respectively. Jon Izagirre, a last-minute call-up after Urtasun's enforced absence, acquitted himself well to come home five minutes down in 108th place, while the ever-dependable Alan Pérez finished up 10 minutes adrift in 130th place.

Samu was as ever gracious in defeat (if you can call 3rd in Fleche a defeat that is), telling the team's website that "I can only congratulate Gilbert. He was really strong today and I feel he was impossible to beat". He did not hide his joy at finishing on the podium though: "I'm very happy with third. I think it was the best result possible today. To be on the podium in a classic this prestigious and with the quality of the riders present, I can't be anything but satisfied. The team did a great job all day. In 2006 I finished on the podium and five years later I do the same. I'll do my best in Liège. Top 3 will be hard though, so we'll enjoy this result".


azanca02 said...

They were def. to far back at the bottom of the mur. Great performance all around though! If they can play the cards right on Sunday than they can get a win, or at least another podium!

Theepoesje said...

In my opinion they are almost every time too far away. On long climbs it doesn't matter that much, because of the cyclists that can't keep up with the pace will be left behind. But in races like this, it is a serious shortcoming... Maybe in Liège they'll perform better, where placing is a little less important.

Bolsen3 said...

It's not a good thing to be way back on long climbs either. It must take more energy having to ride around all those riders who go out the back. Big favorites like them should be near the front!

azanca02 said...

Agreed....and I ment the Huy in my first post.


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