Saturday, August 25, 2012

Antón improves in Andorra

It wasn't quite enough to pull off a repeat performance of his stage-winning exploits in Andorra two years back, but Euskaltel leader Igor Antón looked to be on the mend on the eighth stage of the Vuelta a España with seventh place at the top of the Collada de la Gallinda.

It's been everything but a satisfactory start to the race for the 29-year-old, but the diminutive climber shows he's not that far off decent form by staying close to the best, if never really with them, on the cat.1 climb in order to move up to eighth overall. The stage played out like pretty much everyone had anticipated with a four-way battle for the triumph between Contador, Froome, Rodríguez and Valverde, with the latter, somewhat surprisingly, digging deep to pip the Saxo Bank rider to the line and deny him his first victory since being suspended for doping.

Antón, along with erstwhile team-mate Beñat Intxausti, stayed within sight of the leading quartet all the way and only ceded some 30 seconds to Valverde. While it was an encouraging performance after his much-criticized start to the final GT of the year, he still seems to be lacking quite a bit to stay with the forerunners, but, as it stands now, at least fifth place overall should be within reach.

His team-mates, though, were nowhere to be seen on the last ascent. Iván Velasco was the first to cross the line after Antón, a full two minutes back in 26th, so it's safe to say they were of no particular use to their captain when he would have needed them to help close to the gap to Contador et al. Landa, still troubled by the injuries sustained in a crash the other day, was again off-colour and came in almost four minutes in arrears.

Post-race comments from Igor Antón:

"I'm happy. I had a bad day at Valdezcaray, but I was better today and I was up there. Right now there are five riders who are stronger than me, but there's still a lot of racing to be done and I'm feeling better. The arrivals in Andorra are always taxing. The roads leading up to the final climbs are always going upwards as well, we're climbing for a long time and you accumulate fatigue. Everyone wants to be well placed, well wrapped up by team-mates... The team did a great job in positioning me and in the finale, on the ramps of la Collada, I ended up satisfied".

Results stage eight (full results here):
  • (1, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), 4:06:39)
  • 7, Igor Antón, 0:33
  • 26, Iván Velasco, 1:58
  • 30, Gorka Verdugo, 2:24
  • 31, Amets Txurruka, 2:31
  • 42, Juan José Oroz, 3:27
  • 44, Mikel Astarloza, 3:48
  • 45, Mikel Landa, s.t.
  • 59, Romain Sicard, 6:30
  • 110, Rubén Pérez, 14:49
General classification:
  • (1, Joaquím Rodríguez (Katusha), 29:59:35)
  • 8, Igor Antón, 2:47
  • 22, Gorka Verdugo, 5:31
  • 29, Amets Txurruka, 7:49
  • 34, Mikel Astarloza, 11:33
  • 38, Iván Velasco, 13:01
  • 40, Juan José Oroz, 14:45
  • 43, Romain Sicard, 16:23
  • 63, Mikel Landa, 35:33
  • 98, Rubén Pérez, 44:29

4 comments:

Kristof said...

It was bit better now. TT will cost a lot of time. If only Inxausti was still riding in our colours.

Josh Buehner said...

Yea just his luck, finally has a decent day and now comes the Time Trial.

Anyone know what the weather will be like next week? Will it cool off a bit?

Stephen said...

Thats more like it!

Great fight between the top four again today, best tour of the year so far, no idea who will win at the moment, could be any one of them.

Magnus said...

Looks like it will cool off quite a bit, Josh. Even some rain seems to be on the horizon.

 

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