Sunday, May 01, 2011

Saturday round-up: Romandie, Asturias and Álava

Gorka Verdugo lost his top 10 overall in the Tour de Romandie today after inexplicably crashing with a badly parked motorbike within 1500 metres of the line in his race against the clock. Verdugo came a cropper just before the last ascent to the line was about to start. Crossing the line his jersey and shorts were torn and he looked battered and bruised aboard his spare bike. Still he only lost two minutes to winner Zabriskie, finishing 61st, but he dropped to 17th overall. He's only 20 seconds off the top 10, but with just one stage left it's going to be hard to reclaim his fifth overall let alone a place among the ten first. On a positive note, Jonathan Castroviejo once again showed his worth by powering to ninth place just 48 seconds off the pace. Jon Izagirre also showed plenty of promise by grabbing a solid 49th at 1:48, while Amets finished one place and one tenth of a second behind Verdugo. A Pérez was 75th, Martínez 91, Velasco 118th and Fernández 138th.

Euskaltel were at their aggressive best in Asturias today. The third stage would end atop the mighty Alto de Acebo, and, with no pure climber in the team, they realised they would have to play their cards well. And play them well they did. Urtasun got away early on to give Euskaltel presence up front and Gorka Izagirre joined him along with a few others on the approach to the final climb that would decide the race. With two riders in the front group consisting of approximately 10 riders Euskaltel were perfectly placed. Sadly Urtasun first, and then Izagirre a while later, had to let go on the steep and unforgiving ramps of the Acebo. The impressive Izagirre didn't blow up though and hung in there to place 13th on the stage and as a result keep his tenth place overall. Rubén Pérez showed he can do more than just sprinting by ending up a respectable 30th at almost 11 minutes, while Aramendía placed 48th, Sesma 62nd and a visibly exhausted Urtasun ended up more than 25 minutes down in 69th place. Due to stomach pains, Giro-bound duo Isasi and Oroz both decided to not take the start today to play it safe ahead of next week's big showdown.

Naturgas did not manage to repeat yesterday's tour de force in today's last stage of the Three Days of Álava. Yesterday's victor Fernando Grijalba was naturally the protected rider but did not have the legs to muster more than 20th today, 28 seconds down on double stage winner Edison Bravo. Merino and Larrinaga both finised at 3:03 in 33rd and 34th place respectively, while Carazo was 54th at 7:13 and Guinea dead last in 59th at 11:06.

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