Rubén Pérez just can't stop attacking, can he? I've lost count of how many breaks he's been in so far but he just always seems to be there. And today he was really impressive too. His attack up the climb to Sestriere showed what an all-rounder he's become over the years and his descending off of the climb was impeccable. Too bad he couldn't sustain it all the way to the line, but then again it was always going to be a tall order given the parcours and the composition of the group behind him. After crossing the line in 12th place he was rightfully awarded the 'Most aggressive rider'-prize, so he has all the reason in the world to be proud of his exploits. So too does Samu who, despite going off the road (sort of anyway) on that technically-challenging downhill, looked as agile as ever on the bike and can count himself unlucky that he didn't take a few seconds out of his main GC rivals through his fearless descending and perfect collaboration with Contador on the few flat kilometres leading to the line. He did take a few seconds out of Basso and Voeckler, though, seconds that can come in handy come the ITT on Saturday, but he's still fifth overall heading into the two most decisive days in the mountains. His form looks to be right up there with the best he's ever had though, so I bet he's looking forward to do some damage on the road to Galibier tomorrow. Martínez and Verdugo are likely to provide ample support if today's performance (and the last week in general to be fair) is anything to go by. The duo came in a minute and a half down on the select group of favourites in a small group containing a host of strong names to move up to 24th and 35th on GC respectively. They look to be coming into their best form at the perfect time. A Pérez, Izagirre and Urtasun all came in with the gruppetto, hopefully saving forces for breakaway exploits tomorrow. Team-wise they're ranked fifth, a placing which probably doesn't generate a lot of interest but which nonetheless speaks volumes of the team's performance as a whole, especially so with Txurruka and Velasco, loyal team-mates and strong climbers in their own right, out with broken collarbones. It's been a marvelous Tour so far, full stop.
Thursday, July 21, 2011
Things didn't work out equally well in the Brixia Tour opener today. Euskaltel were never really in the race and Minguez and Azanza were the team's highest-placed riders in 46th and 48th place, both 4:40 in arrears. Fernández came home 4:59 back, Landa 5:57, and Sesma, Cazaux and Castroviejo 11:22 back. On the bright side tomorrow's stage can hardly go worse!