Sunday, July 24, 2011

Tour joy

Due to various reasons I haven't been able to update the blog the last few days anywhere near as much as I'd like. And it's quite a shame with this weekend being an historic one in the team's history. Samu winning the King of the Mountains-jersey was his just reward for an inspiring and aggressive performance throughout the three weeks. His brilliant seventh in yesterday's ITT was simply proof of his great versatility and his sixth place overall wast the least he deserved. With the exception of the stage to the Galibier he's been exceptional, probably the strongest in the race along with winner Evans and A Schleck. A place on the podium and possibly even more was within his reach in this year's edition, but you won't hear him complaining after what's been a very successful Tour after a less than brilliant start. The team will in all likelihood end up fifth in the team rankings. For a team with the smallest budget in the WorldTour, along with the smallest area in which to recruit riders, it's quite the result. Add in the fact that two of the team's strongest climbers had to abandon early on and the feat gets even more impressive. Chapeau!

A leader is nothing without his helpers though. Bar any last-stage accidents, Verdugo will finish 25th. That's ahead of riders like Roche, Casar, Karpets, Leipheimer, Gesink and Arroyo. He's been there for Samu every single day and has provided invaluable assistance. The same goes for Egoi Martínez who'll end up 34th. The 31-year-old, widely considered one of the most valuable domestiques in the business, has been impressive and has been forced to take on even more responsibility and with it less freedom due to the loss of Txurruka and Velasco. Great ride by him. Debutants Izagirre and Urtasun have both come through the Tour in good shape. Both have been aggressive and both have been climbing well. The former will end up a highly-creditable 66th on GC, while the latter is on course for a 149th-place finish. Rubén Pérez has once again been one of the most aggressive riders in the pack and would be a worthy winner of the 'Most aggressive rider'-prize overall if he was to be handed the award at the conclusion of the Tour later today. Alan Pérez grabbed a nice 6th place here the other day and has merited his place in the team without a shadow of a doubt. All in all a well-organized and cohesive team. Check back later today for full results and reactions from the major players.

1 comment:

Stephen said...

A fantastic result and one of the best tours I have seen in over 20 years. Everyone connected with the team and the foundation should be very proud.


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