Thursday, April 07, 2011

Samu does it again!

Told you! As I almost expected, and like Purito Rodríguez predicted before the stage, Samu Sánchez powered his way to a second win in Eibar in as many years today as the race's queen-stage was once again an enthralling spectacle. The iconic climb of Arrate, topping out some two kilometres before the line, failed to separate the main candidates as a strong headwind and the tiring heat took it's toll on the riders. As expected, though, Samu made his move on the downhill inside the last kilometre. There's no catching Samu on a descent if he gets a 20-metre gap, and so it proved as Samu held off a surging Klöden to send the patriotic home fans into delirium. A big win for Samu and the team alike. Sadly the pursuers were awarded the same time as Samu, and he thus remains in third place tied on time with Purito and Klöden. "Taking over the yellow jersey was very difficult as Klöden didn't look like he was struggling at all", Samu admitted afterwards. "Both Klöden and Horner look really strong, so they'll be tough adversaries. A lot of riders, strong riders, are within seconds of the lead. Anyone close to the lead can win this race. Klöden is doing phenomenal rides against the clock, but anyone can take it". Speaking about how the win came about, the naturalized Basque told the team's website: "It was a victory achieved through desire and knowledge of the course. On the climb I didn't feel good at all. I had to stay calm and bide my time. There was a headwind and we went up Arrate slower than in the recent past. Knowing the course helped me to grab this win. I'd like to dedicate it to the Basque fans that stand by us in good and bad times."

It was by no means a win achieved alone though. The team did an excellent job throughout by keeping the break in check and setting the pace for large portions of the day. They set him up expertly, and at one time Amets Txurruka was even on the attack, going clear briefly with Tony Martin and a couple of other riders in pursuit of the break. Stage results:

  • 1, Samuel Sánchez, 0:00
  • 16, Gorka Verdugo, 0:47
  • 28, Amets Txurruka, 1:43
  • 58, Egoi Martínez, 6:03
  • 79, Iñaki Isasi, 11:40
  • 80, Iván Velasco, s.t.
  • 133, Juan José Oroz, 21:31
  • 140, Pablo Urtasun, s.t.

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