Friday, June 01, 2012

Naturgas struggle as Bekaert nabs stage and lead

Lotto-Belisol-Davo grabbed back-to-back stage wins in the Vuelta a Navarra today as Steve Bekaert soloed to the win and the overall lead, building on team-mate Wouter Wippert's triumph yesterday. Naturgas Energía struggled to impose themselves on the hilly terrain and had to settle for 18th through Jon Larrinaga.

Stage three, a 143,8km ride from Pitillas to Alto de Izpegi, was always going to be decisive with its summit finish, and 21-year-old Belgian Bekaert turned out to be the strongest by winning ten seconds ahead of Extramadura-Spiuk's Adrián Alvarado and a further five seconds ahead of Caja Rural's Dario Hernández. Overall leader Ignacio Pérez, so convincing on day one, came in more than six minutes in arrears and naturally had to let go of his jersey.

Naturgas found it hard to animate the racing and once again had to rely on Jon Larrinaga for a decent result. The 21-year-old climbed to 18th on the stage, 2:59 down, and now occupies the same position overall. Karl Baudron and Alain Santamaría both pulled out.

In the "Local rider"-classification, Etxeberria is now ranked second.

Former Orbea and Naturgas Energía rider Noel Martín, now riding for Supermercados Froiz, had a great day in the saddle. The 22-year-old looked threatening in the day's main break and, after having been caught, managed to cling onto eighth on the stage. Overall he's seventh at just 35 seconds.

Stage 3 results:
  • 1, Steve Bekaert (Lotto-Belisol-Devo), 3:40:22
  • 2, Adrián Alvarado (Extramadura-Spiuk), 0:10
  • 3, Dario Hernández (Caja Rural), 0:15
  • 18, Jon Larrinaga (Naturgas Energía), 2:59
  • 38, Víctor Etxeberria (Naturgas Energía), 5:35
  • 66, Mikel Iturria (Naturgas Energía), 13:30
  • 79, Alain González (Naturgas Energía), 14:30
  • 104, Francisco Javier Martín (Naturgas Energía), 24:23

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