Sunday, May 20, 2012

All hail Txurruka!

Amets Txurruka was once again on the attack in today's 15th Giro d'Italia stage, being in contention for a podium place up until the last kilometre and eventually placing 10th after an epic day of racing in the Italian mountains.

The 172km stage from Busto Arsizio to the top of the Pian dei Resinelli was packed with exciting racing, as break after break formed, riders crashing right and left, the GC contenders attacking each other and man of the day, Matteo Rabottini, sensationally hanging on to take the win (though with a little help from the magnanimous Rodríguez) after a day-long Mikel Nieve-esque adventure in the mountains - a true etapón. I won't go into detail on how it all unfolded, I'd be stuck in front of the computer all evening if I did, but suffice to say it was a day of some great racing.

Click this link to read how it all unfolded

One of the great animators was Amets Txurruka, the little climber forming part of a huge, dangerous-looking break that broke clear on the first cat.1 of the day. As rider after rider got shelled out the back, the Etxebarria-native hung tough to claim a creditable 10th on the stage and for a while even looked like he might bag a top three before Joaquim Rodríguez and co. lit the blue touch paper in the last three clicks. And all this on the back of an attempt on the last climb yesterday and a day-long break three days ago. His attacks might not always make much sense (yes, I'm talking about yesterday's stage), but his fighting spirit is second to none and he continues to embody much of what Euskaltel profess to be all about: grit, determination and heart. Eskerrik asko, Amets!

Mikel Nieve had another solid day in the saddle to climb 11th on the day and rise to 18th on GC. Nieve just lacked that tiny bit of spring in his step to stay with Henao, Scarponi and Basso as they went in pursuit of the on-fire Rodríguez, but had enough in the tank to hold off the likes of Hesjedal, Intxausti and the off-colour Urán and Pozzovivo. As a result he's now just two minutes off Casar in tenth.

Juanjo Oroz once again showed decent form by placing 36th, while Izagirre looked stronger than yesterday with 53rd. The latter, two weeks into his first Grand Tour, will no doubt relish tomorrow's rest day and will hopefully feel strong enough to get into a break or two in the last week. Another one undoubtedly looking forward to tomorrow is Iván Velasco who continues to tough it out amid much pain.

Miguel Minguez continues to lead the way at the very bottom of the standings, still wearing the invisible maglia neri, while another Basque, Beñat Intxausti, is making quite a Giro at the other end of the standings. The 26-year-old, still revered among Euskaltel aficionados, is 7th overall - with the last-day time trial, his forte, still to come.

Stage 15 results:
  • (1, Matteo Rabottini (Farnese Vini), 5:15:30)
  • 10, Amets Txurruka, 0:29
  • 11, Mikel Nieve, 0:36
  • 36, Juan José Oroz, 5:09
  • 53, Jon Izagirre, 11:50
  • 66, Pierre Cazaux, 18:02
  • 104, Iván Velasco, 26:49
  • 113, Víctor Cabedo, s.t.
  • 138, Miguel Minguez, 38:48
  • 158, Adrián Sáez, s.t. 
General classification:
  • (1, Joaquim Rodríguez (Katusha), 65:11:07)
  • 18, Mikel Nieve, 4:20
  • 42, Juan José Oroz, 27:22
  • 52, Amets Txurruka, 45:19
  • 61, Jon Izagirre, 57:46
  • 91, Iván Velasco, 1:34:21
  • 139, Víctor Cabedo, 2:22:01
  • 153, Pierre Cazaux, 2:36:41
  • 171, Adrián Sáez, 3:09:57
  • 175, Miguel Minguez, 3:26:34


Kristof said...

Yeah this is the Txurruka of TDF 2007, if only he had a day like this some days ago... I get the impression he tries to get point for mountain jersey. He's always a pleasure to look at and stays the attraction of the team. That Italian of Farnese was impressive, what a fantastic strong ride!

Magnus said...

Yeah, Rabottini was quite the surprise - I had no idea he was such strong a climber.

Wednesday should be a good day for breaks - let's hope Amets and Izagirre are on the attack. The descent to the line should actually suit them, as Amets is unlikely to drop everyone on a summit finish and is actually a skilled descender, whilst Izagirre's fast finish could come in handy if a break regroups on the descent and sprints for the win.

Stephen said...

I only got home in time to see the end of the stage - the last 10k (good excuse though, I was out on the bike) but it was a great 10k!

Rabottini deserved the stage, he must have suffered in those conditions, on his own, knowing he was being caught...

It was great to see Amets up there and through the gloom you could catch a glimpse of Nieve with the chasing pack, weather was so bad even orange didn't stand out!

Fingers crossed for a strong last week for the team...until the TT of course :-(

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