Wednesday, August 22, 2012

No show as sprinters take centre stage

It was a quiet day for Euskaltel both in Spain and in France today as the sprinters duked it out in both the Vuelta a España and the Tour de Poitou-Charentes.

In Spain, the guys in orange did what they had to do, i.e. staying out of trouble, as the speedsters weren't about to let the 168km stage five from and to Logroño, Rioja, pass them by. Argos' Teutonic speed machine John Degenkolb put on another great display of power and guile to edge out Leopard's comparatively less imposing Daniele Bennati for his second triumph in the race. Rubén Pérez was seen near the front of the pack in the closing stretches, but couldn't quite find neither his finishing-kick nor his place in the pack and eventually had to settle for 20th.

The 31-year-old all-rounder has never really found his top form this year, starting off the year on the wrong foot and never really getting up to speed. There should be plenty of opportunities for breaks in this year's race though, so he'll probably try to sneak into one of those if his team bosses let him.

As for Antón, Sicard, Txurruka and co. expertly took care of him and kept him near the sharp end of the peloton when it mattered. Tomorrow's fifth stage to Jaca, where Haimar Zubeldia spends quite a lot of his time, may give us another indication of the team leader's form as it ends with a short, but steep, incline to the line.

Here's all you need to know about the race's sixth stage in Aragón from Tarazona to Jaca in the midst of the Pyrenees. 

And here's a selection of Iñaki Azanza's photos from day five. 

Full results can be found here.

Stage five results:
  • (1, John Degenkolb (Argos-Shimano), 4:10:37)
  • 20, Rubén Pérez, s.t.
  • 67, Mikel Astarloza, s.t.
  • 69, Igor Antón, s.t.
  • 71, Gorka Verdugo, s.t.
  • 78, Amets Txurruka, s.t.
  • 80, Juan José Oroz, s.t.
  • 93, Romain Sicard, s.t.
  • 122, Mikel Landa, s.t.
  • 130, Iván Velasco, s.t.
General classification:
  • (1, Joaquin Rodríguez (Katusha), 17:29:22)
  • 16, Igor Antón, 0:57
  • 24, Gorka Verdugo, 1:38
  • 25, Amets Txurruka, 1:50
  • 36, Romain Sicard, 2:53
  • 45, Mikel Astarloza, 5:00
  • 47, Iván Velasco, 5:25
  • 48, Mikel Landa, 5:27
  • 55, Juan José Oroz, 6:55
  • 115, Rubén Pérez, 19:38
In France at the Tour de Poitou-Charentes, it was stage one all over again: Orica-GreenEdge's Aidis Kruopis won the stage from a bunch sprint, Euskaltel stayed in the pack, and everyone finished up inside the peloton. None mixed it up in the sprint; Nieve was the first to cross the line in 95th place. Samuel Sánchez came in 117th and now occupies 110th overall.

Photo: Iñaki Azanza

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