Sunday, September 11, 2011

Vuelta conclusion

The Vuelta a España came to a close earlier this afternoon with the traditional final stage into Madrid. The Euskaltel riders kept a low profile, choosing to focus on coming through unscathed and holding onto Nieve's fine 10th place overall. Nieve came home inside the pack to hold onto his creditable GC placing, while the team as expected finished the race ranked third in the team rankings. The final GC looks like this:
  • 10, Mikel Nieve
  • 30, Amets Txurruka
  • 33, Igor Antón
  • 36, Gorka Verdugo
  • 50, Juan José Oroz
  • 55, Egoi Martínez
  • 71, Iñaki Isasi
  • 97, Jorge Azanza
  • 148, Pierre Cazaux
Euskaltel were thus one of only a handful of teams to finish the race with all nine riders. Though the leaders - Nieve and Antón - failed and succeeded in equal measures at various points in the race, the team as a whole performed admirably. The team had riders in breaks on all the important stages and secured a stage-win and a top ten overall placing through carefully planned and perfectly executed team-work. DS Gorka Gerrikagoitia seemed to agree, telling the team's website post-stage that "overall it's been a very positive Vuelta for us. Things went wrong right from the off, but the team coped well with the change of objectives and the final result is highly satisfactory. We never gave up and in the end we got our stage. Antón's win in Bilbao was the result of exemplary team-work. Overall, the riders have performed really well. We were represented in all the big breaks and in the end finished third in the team rankings - without that ever being an objective for us."

Mikel Nieve was naturally pleased with his final position on GC. "For me, this Vuelta has been good. I came with a job to do (helping Antón) and ended up doing something completely different", he told the team's website. "We changed our goals and we responded. We moved up on GC, infiltrated the breaks... I did my best and so I'm pleased with this tenth place. If I improve my time trialling I might be able to finish even higher up in a Vuelta or a Giro some day. We'll see how I develop, but right now I won't spend time thinking about it. I'm pleased with my race and I like chasing stage-wins."

Antón was also looking on the bright side of things when asked to summarize his Vuelta experience. "The team passed this test with flying colours. The historic win in Bilbao, Nieve's tenth overall and third in the team rankings is a good haul. Personally, it's been a very important race. I've learned how to cope with adversity and come out on the other side with the win of my life. I'm really pleased with this Vuelta; I've learned more than I've ever done before. I wouldn't change the win in Bilbao for a podium place. No way."

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