Monday, April 18, 2011

Round-up: CyL, Amstel, Urtasun, Naturgas, Orbea

  • The Vuelta a Castilla y León came to a close earlier today after Saturday's 11,2km ITT and today's fifth and concluding stage into Medina del Campo. All in all it was a good weekend for the team as Antón impressed in the time trial to claim third overall, whilst Rubén Pérez once again showed his quick turn of speed to take third earlier today. In the time trial, Antón clung onto his 3rd place as he finished a lofty 6th on the day losing just 20 seconds to the indomitable Contador. Admittedly the level of competition wasn't the highest, but doing so well on a flat time trial course still shows he's approaching top form and might suggest all his work on the time trial bike is paying off. Earlier this year he lowered his position by close to a centimetre to get more aero and efficient and it certainly looks to be working. The other Euskaltel riders didn't perform that well though. R Pérez was 41st, Azanza 64th, Sesma 67th, Nieve 74th, Cazaux 84th and Aramendía 89th, all at more than a minute. The youngsters at Orbea fared better though. Ricardo García, who's taken considerable steps so far this year, placed an encouraging 13th at 43 seconds, while newbie Victor Cabedo was 21st at 48. Martín was 59th, Etxebarria 71st, Bizkarra 86th and Aberasturi 99th, all within two minutes ten seconds. That's an impressive performance no doubt. Adrián Sáez was forced to pull out before the racing got underway as a crash the day before had broken a bone in his right wrist. Today's road stage was one for the sprinters and, as I've already mentioned, Pérez impressed with third place, besting riders like Bos and Pelucchi. Aberasturi finished a solid ninth to cap off a few good weeks of racing for him. Five days of racing at such a high level seemed to be catching up on his team-mates, though, as only himself, García and Martín managed to stay with the pack today. Cabedo crossed the line 12 seconds down, while Bizkarra and Etxebarria finished 0:41 and 1:27 in arrears respectively. Nieve and Cazaux also ended up in the wrong peloton, coming home 15 seconds back. Final GC: Antón 3, Nieve 22, Aramendía 32, Pérez 47, Azanza 62, Cazaux 83 and Sesma 104. Ricardo García took an eyebrow-raising 8th place overall, while Cabedo was 36th, Bizkarra 39th, Martín 87th, Aberasturi 90th and Etxebarria 100th.

  • Pablo Urtasun has been forced to pull out of the team for the three Ardennes classics, the team's website reports. The versatile sprinter hit the deck on the last stage in País Vasco and has barely been able to train this week. While no serious injury is thought to have been sustained, it's still enough to force him off the roster. Jon Izagirre will take his place in what will be his first time taking part in the hilly one-dayers.

  • Naturgas sent seven riders to today's Torneo Euskaldun race in Durana. Those seven didn't have a lot of luck, though, and were never really in contention. Jon Larrinaga was the team's highest finished, clocking up 28th place. Álex Bilbao was 55th, Alain González 61st, Rory Martínez 64th and Aitor Ocampos dead last in 74th place. Urtzi Legarra and Alberto Guinea failed to complete the taxing race. Things didn't go much better on Saturday either in the Clásice de Estella/Memorial José Ciordia. The hilly Torneo Lehendakari race, ending atop the famed climb to the Puy basilica, saw Caja Rural annihilate the opposition. The red brigade, led by strong allrounder Igor Merino, lying second overall in the series going into the race, wasn't given as much as a look-in as Caja Rural made a clean sweep of the podium.

  • Amstel Gold Race didn't turn out as the team would have hoped earlier today. There's not a lot to tell actually as Samu just wasn't where you'd expect him to be when the peloton split up in the closing stages. Along with Garmin-Cervélo, Euskaltel were caught cold and failed to place a single rider in the first pack. I don't think Samu was feeling bad or anything, it just seemed like a tactical mistake. Eventually he finished a lowly 56th at a big 2:46, while Verdugo turned out to be the best on the day by coming home in 50th at 2:29. Velasco was 60th, Martínez 85th and Castroviejo 86th. Debutant Izagirre and A Pérez both pulled out.

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