Monday, April 23, 2012

Unlucky Samu delivers in LBL

Luck was once again not on Samuel Sánchez's side in this year's Ardennes Classics. The 34-year-old still managed to finish a commendable seventh though.

You got the feeling it just wasn't meant to be when Samu punctured on the demanding Côte de Stockeu. The pace was high, a mammoth effort would be needed to bring him back on, and Igor Antón, Samu's main lieutenant, had already abandoned after breaking his collarbone in the neutralized section. The team naturally dropped back and paced him back up to the peloton, but it was hardly ideal.

When the real race started inside the last 30 kilometres, Samu was always there or thereabouts, but never looked like winning the race once Nibali, Iglinsky et al. moved off the front. He did remarkably well to stay with the main chasers though, even putting in a dig himself at one point, to finish seventh ahead of a cluster of big-name riders.

Sánchez rose back into third in the WorldTour-rankings as a result, and closed out his first part of the season on a high. No wonder his DS, Gorka Gerrikagoitia, was happy.

"Because of Samu's seventh place, we're pleased with the race overall", he told Euskaltel's website. "He did ever so well, making use of his intelligence to grab a creditable seventh place."

Results (full results here.):
  • 1, Maxim Iglinsky, Astana
  • 7, Samuel Sánchez, 0:36
  • 69, Mikel Nieve, 8:22
  • 70, Egoi Martínez, s.t.
  • 96, Romain Sicard, 12:18
  • DNF: Gorka Izagirre, Jorge Azanza, Rubén Pérez and Igor Antón
It's a fact: Rubén Pérez has abandoned all three Ardennes Classics this year.


Kristof said...

Yes but Ruben Perez did also the other classics, he deserves some rest. He stays a hero, hope we can admire him again this year in next TDF. About the race, I do not know if this was a tragdy or a comedy. I think we've seen today the reason why many Euskaltels (except Samu) do not find a high level this year. Clean cycling seems to become an illusion and if UCI and WADA not improve we're going back to period 1993-2010. I really wonder what Nibali and Rodriguez where thinking, seeing this flying Kazachs. What I'v seen, I think, is not good news for future of Euskaltel and cycling as a whole.

Magnus said...

That's an interesting point you're making about cycling becoming less clean again. To me, Iglinsky has always been a class act, and it was just a matter of time before he got his big one. I might be forced to eat my words, but that's my opinion.

And yes, Pérez has done an awful lot of racing so far and deserves some time off. Legend.

Kristof said...

Iglinsky and Gasparotto are very good riders, I agree. But I have them, and other guys of the team, never seen acting so strong. Let's not forget they are over 30...Astana has a reputation. I really had better feeling since end 2007 but since Dauphiné last year there's that one team Europcar which I really do not believe I'm sorry. Kern from one day to other a super climber. Voeckler almost winning the Tour while in the past losing three hours, Rolland riding faster the Alp the Samu and Contador,... I know you must be easy with these words and I agree innocent til proven guilty but since that moment I lost my fate. We've been too many times betrayed in the past. Also there are the rumours some new products are in the peleton which can not be found. But maybe I'm a bit disappointed seeing Euskaltel so bad this year, even in Paio Vasco Samu always was alone in a bunch of more then 50 riders. Maybe our orange friends are out of shape, but we may not be blind if some riders and teams do things which are in my eyes not normal. To end; yesterday Voeckler mechanical problem on La Redoute and two minutes later at the front of the peleton. Maybe Samu must ask him and his team mates how he cazn do this:-)

Magnus said...

You certainly make a point, but I've always believed in the Europcar riders. I'd say the fact they're making their mark on pro cycling is testament to lesser doping in the peloton.

Bolsen3 said...

Totally agree with Magnus! I think it's the other way around, the things we saw in the 2011 Tour could be an indicator of a cleaner peleton than ever before. Less big accelerations (by that I mean that nobody were able to attack again and again, as we've often seen in the past). The riders seemed to get more tired after big efforts, like A.Schleck on Alpe d'Huez the day after his big move on Izzoard and Galibier. There were smaller differences between the best guys in the mountains, which could indicate that the riders had a more equal starting point than normal.

To me it seems absolutely absurd to throw allegations at Europcar. A couple of the riders you name are among those who actually seem most likely to be clean in my opinion. For example: both Voeclear and Rolland scored a 0 on that dopinglist UCI used before the 2010 Tour. Now that doesn't explain their exceptional ride in 2011, but to me it seems much more likely that the reason is that the peleton is cleaner, rather than the whole Europcar suddenly starting to use some kind of superdope out of the clear blue sky.

And may I remind you that doping has been a MUCH bigger problem in Spain than in France over the past 10 years? There's no denying this fact, sorry...


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