Sunday, July 01, 2012

Urtasun makes his mark as Samu survives

Euskaltel survived stage one of the Tour with bravado, as Pablo Urtasun came close to grabbing the mountains jersey and Samu stayed with the favourites up the steep finishing climb to Seraing.

With a polkadot shirt up for grabs, it was no surprise to see an Euskaltel rider in the break of the day. Urtasun jumped away with a quartet of Frenchmen and Dane Mörköv, and the battle for the climbers points was on. The Saxo Bank rider topped the first cat.4 climb, before Urtasun equalled the scores by taking the second. There was no stopping the Dane on the latter two though, and the mountains jersey though slipped through the team's fingers.

"The goal was to get the jersey, but it wasn't possible against a strong Mörköv", the aggressive all-rounder told the team's website. "It's a shame, but it's a nice jersey and one we had to aim for. But at least we've started off on the right foot. Last year I crashed in the first stage, this year I formed part of the break of the day. The understanding in the group was good, but getting to the line first was impossible".

When the stage was to be decided, Samu was well taken care off by Egoi Martínez and Gorka Izagirre, but he somehow managed to start the short climb quite a way back. Luckily for him, the GC contenders calmed down once it became apparent Cancellara, Sagan and Hagen would stay away, and he was given the same time as Wiggins, Evans and co. In addition, he got a few seconds on Leipheimer, Velits,   Horner and Froome, so all in all a satisfactory day for him and the team.

Mikel Astarloza showed decent form by coming in 14 seconds down, and is still the team's highest ranked rider on GC in 41st. On a less positive note, Verdugo appeared to struggle throughout after his crash yesterday, eventually crossing the line more than six minutes in arrears.

Stage 1 results:

  • (1, Peter Sagan (Liquigas), 4:58:19)
  • 29, Samuel Sánchez, s.t.
  • 49, Mikel Astarloza, 0:14
  • 73, Egoi Martínez, 0:40
  • 76, Jorge Azanza, 0:45
  • 105, Gorka Izagirre, 2:07
  • 126, Rubén Pérez, s.t.
  • 145, Amets Txurruka, 3:01
  • 194, Gorka Verdugo, 6:11
  • 195, Pablo Urtasun, s.t.
Photo: Graham Watson

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