Tuesday, April 05, 2011

VPV 1: Same old story as Samu goes close

It just isn't happening for Samu in sprints this year, is it? Taking second today (his fifth second place so far this year I think, correct me if I'm wrong) surely felt like a defeat to fans at least, and I'm sure he felt just as aggrieved to come oh so close yet again this year. Though obviously a fantastic start to the race, what with taking second place on the stage and overall as well and distancing some big rivals in the process, there's just no way around it: coming second is the worst, especially so when a photo-finish is needed to decide the winner. It's also frustrating in the sense that Samu on paper should have won a sprint against Purito Rodríguez. Like in Paris-Nice when he was shut out by Klöden, he again left it a little too late against inferior competition and could only come around the Katusha rider half a metre or so after passing the line. Rodríguez is no mean sprinter, don't get me wrong, but nine times out of ten I reckon Samu will win. Just like against Schleck in the Tour last year and just like against Klöden in Paris-Nice this year. He seems to lose his nerve a bit and consequently mistimes it when it matters the most. That might not be the case for all I know, but it certainly looks like it and it seems to be a recurring problem. It's bound to go Samu's way sooner rather than later though, so he'll probably focus on the positive aspects of his performance and try to get it right tomorrow or later in the week. And there are indeed positive aspects to focus on despite yet again missing out. The team was rock solid all stage, taking control of the peloton along with Leopard-Trek all day. Top notch team performance; they all looked strong. Samu looked ever so strong as well, cresting the climb (or is that wall?) of Antigua on Horner and Purito's wheel, and putting seconds into all his rivals bar the aforementioned duo and Klöden, who caught back onto the group on the descent. Overall candidates like Gesink, Di Luca and Tondo lost six seconds, Vino, Uran, Sánchez, Basso and the Schlecks 18, and big challenger Martin had a day to forget, losing a whopping 9:55 by stages end. He's out of the picture obviously, so one less rider to worry about. The other Euskaltel riders naturally finished some way back as the pace-setting at the head of the pack took it's toll towards the end. Results:


  • 30th, Verdugo, 0:36
  • 45th, Velasco, 1:07
  • 73rd, Martínez, 3:43
  • 74th, Urtasun, s.t.
  • 90th, Txurruka, 9:49
  • 123rd, Isasi, 15:07
  • 133rd, Oroz, s.t.

Talking post-stage, Samu as ever put on a brave face. "Obviously it's (second place) not the same as winning and taking yellow. But we've started the Vuelta with good sensations and that's the most important fact", he told the team's website. "The evaluation of today's stage is positive. The team did a great job and we've been where we ought to be. Urtasun and Isasi set the pace and didn't let the break's gap balloon on the first part of the stage. Amets and Egoi both set a blistering pace. Velasco, Juanjo and Verdugo supported me really well and we were among the best on the Antigua's steep slopes. Approaching the line in Zumarraga we were four riders together and Purito was a little bit faster than me. Thinking about what might have been is of no use. I think it's more important we appreciate the work of the team today. This is one of the best races in the world, and we've controlled the peloton and were in the fight 'till the last metre."

2 comments:

azanca02 said...

i'll be honest in saying that I am dissapointed in the 2nd place but man is he on form this year!!! If he can get some time into Horner and Kloden by the TT then he should have a good shot at taking the overall. He would probably need to put more time into Vino as well. Good thing Martin is out of it.

Josh said...

My favorite part from the stage was ,as the rest of the peloton was shattered and legs were screaming 3/4 of the way up la antigua, Amets comes peddling up with a smile on his face and his tongue out...What a character! Aupa Amets!

 

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