Thursday, April 05, 2012

Samu bags Arrate hat-trick

Samuel Sánchez followed the script and secured his third consecutive win on the mythical Arrate earlier today. As well as taking out the Vuelta al País Vasco's queen-stage, he also assumed control of the leader's jersey.

Like there was ever going to be a different winner. Samu has triumphed on the same mountain the past two years, had looked in ominous form in the lead-up to the race and would equal the legendary Federico Bahamontes' record of three wins on the climb if he was to pull off another victory. Logically, the air of inevitability about the outcome of the stage was therefore palpable when Samu crested the Arrate in the company of Joaquin Rodríguez and Chris Horner, ready to embark on the 2500-metres long descent to the finish line. To the delirium of the huge crowds that lined the vicious slopes on the Arrate, Samu duly delivered and won the sprint for the victory ahead of Purito and Horner. He thus inherits JJ Rojas' yellow jersey of overall leader - if only just. He's tied on time with his two rivals, whilst the following 16 are all at a mere 16 seconds. It's all set up for quite the show on the road to the unknown climb of the Ibardin tomorrow.

It was everything but a one-man show though. Euskaltel, naturally laden with responsibility what with País Vasco being the team's home race and this stage Samu's favourite playground, controlled affairs from the front of the peloton, making sure the break of the day didn't get too big a gap and setting it up for their leader on the second and last time up the Arrate.

Some three clicks from the top, Horner and Rodríguez went for broke. Samu eventually joined them at the cabeza de carrera, or the lastarketa burua as it's called in Basque, before easily outsprinting the duo to claim the team's second win of the season.

Post-stage, a visibly delighted Olympic champion was only too keen to praise his team-mates' efforts.

"My companions, today and throughout this race, have been phenomenal", he told the team's website after descending from the podium. "We really did prepare well."

Samu admitted winning in Eibar for the third time was something 'special' - but did not believe it was going to happen before it actually did.

"It is special to win here. Of all the climbs we have in Euskadi, Arrate is surely the nicest one and the most represented one. But if you'd told me before the stage that I'd win, I wouldn't have believed you".

Up tomorrow is stage four to Ibardin - the second and final summit finish of the race.

To watch how it all unfolded, click this link that'll take you to a 40-minute Youtube video.

Stage result:
  • 1, Samuel Sánchez, 3:58:15
  • 26, Igor Antón, 0:50
  • 67, Mikel Astarloza, 5:16
  • 90, Egoi Martínez, 8:55
  • 91, Gorka Verdugo, s.t.
  • 92, Jorge Azanza, s.t.
  • 93, Gorka Izagirre, s.t.
  • 117, Juan José Oroz, 16:17
General classification:
  • 1, Samuel Sánchez, 12:06:06
  • 24, Igor Antón, 0:50
  • 66, Mikel Astarloza, 5:16
  • 82, Gorka Izagirre, 8:55
  • 83, Gorka Verdugo, s.t.
  • 84, Jorge Azanza, s.t.
  • 90, Egoi Martínez, 10:52
  • 117, Juan José Oroz, 18:14

1 comment:

Nick said...

Chapeau Samu!

Now he just needs to put in a stellar performance tomorrow to distance himself from Tony Martin come Saturday.


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