Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Antón OK as TT looms

Igor Antón got the perfect lead-up to Wednesday's decisive individual time trial with a calm, laid-back and focused ride on Tuesday's stage ten.

The tenth stage, a 190km ride from Ponteareas to Sanxenxo in Galicia, was the first one after Monday's día de descanso, and the racing resumed with a typical GT sprinter's stage. A duo got away early on, fully aware there was no way they were going to go the distance, while the peloton and the GC candidates took it relatively easy throughout. Former Euskaltel rider Javier Aramendía was yet again part of the main break in what must be, what, his fifth breakaway so far in this race? Impressive stuff from the 25-year-old, who's most definitely shown he was worthy of a place in Caja Rural's starting line-up.

German powerhouse John Degenkolb was once again untouchable in the sprint, while Euskaltel's Rubén Pérez came in 13th after a stop-start sprint. Antón was well looked after by his team-mates throughout, and came in mid-pack along with the other overall contenders.

Decisive time trial coming up

All the riders with GC ambitions were looking to save forces on Tuesday for Wednedsay's potentially decisive one and only ITT in this year's edition. Antón's time trialing has been dreadful all year - and his current form doesn't offer hope of a marked improvement tomorrow - so it's likely to do Antón's overall aspirations even more harm after a troubled first week. At least he can draw comfort from the fact that a cat.3 climb is included on the route, but he might well tumble out of the top ten by stage's end.

Alberto Contador and Christopher Froome, the two main favourites for the overall win of course, will likely be two of the main players given their pedigree against the clock. So how much will the Euskaltel leader lose tomorrow compared to the 'Big four' of this year's race? A look back at Antón's performances in relatively long flat GT time trials over the last few years should offer an indication though Contador and Valverde have been absent at times over the last few years for different reasons:
  • 2011 Vuelta: Salamanca, 47 clicks. Finished 104th, 6:18 down on victor Tony Martin. Ceded 5:17 to Froome, 2:55 to current red jersey Rodríguez. Contador and Valverde not present.
  • 2011 Giro: Milan, 26 clicks. Finished 97th, 3:25 down on winner David Millar. Ceded 2:49 to Contador, 1:11 to Rodríguez. Valverde and Froome not present.
  • 2009 Vuelta: Valencia, 30 clicks. Finished 79th, 2:52 down on winner Cancellara. Ceded 1:47 to Valverde, gained 26 second on Rodríguez. Contador and Froome not present. 
  • 2009 Vuelta: Tolede, 26 clicks. Finished 100th, 3:50 down on victor David Millar. Ceded 3:14 to Valverde, 1:48 to Rodríguez. Contador and Froome not present.  
The course, run on at times hilly and narrow roads sheltered from too much wind, should see to that Antón doesn't lose in excess of four minutes on Froome/Contador. Valverde can pull off a good crono when in shape, whilst Rodríguez has taken big strides in the discipline the last 12 months. Antón should be content if he avoids ceding more than two and a half minutes to each one of them. 
Stage ten results (full results here):
  • (1, John Degenkolb (Argos-Shimano), 4:47:24)
  • 13, Rubén Pérez, 0:01
  • 33, Gorka Verdugo, 0:04
  • 45, Igor Antón, s.t.
  • 47, Juan José Oroz, s.t.
  • 59, Romain Sicard, s.t.
  • 69, Amets Txurruka, s.t.
  • 71, Mikel Astarloza, s.t.
  • 86, Iván Velasco, s.t.
  • 183, Mikel Landa, 3:49

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