Monday, August 27, 2012

Vuelta and Plouay round-up

Igor Antón and co. had a decent day in the saddle in Barcelona, while over in France, at the GP Plouay, the team was as aggressive as ever.

In the Vuelta a España's ninth stage, ending just outside of Barcelona's Olympic stadium, Joaquín Rodríguez took advantage of his strong side, his explosiveness, to add slightly to his overall lead. The Katusha rider escaped along with a Philippe Gilberto seemingly on the mend going up the familiar Montjuic climb some four clicks from the line, and held off the pack by 12 seconds. Gilbert edged 'Purito' for the win, but the diminutive Catalan, riding on home roads, will be more than pleased to have distanced his main rivals for the overall ahead of tomorrow's rest day.

Antón and Verdugo were always there or thereabouts in the finale, the duo coming in 10th and eighth respectively at 12 seconds, meaning the Euskaltel leader clung on to his eighth place overall. If they'd been a bit keener to ride instead of looking at others to do the work in the final 1000 metres, the orange duo might just have caught, or at least have gotten closer, to Gilbert and Rodríguez, but post-race Antón at least seemed content to have the first week of racing behind him.

"It's been a very intense week", he said. "Every day there's been some kind of trouble. If it wasn't the wind, it was finding my place in the pack, the explosive finishes... We had to be near the front each day and stay focused, so for me it's been a very difficult first part of the race. Some days I ceded time... It's been hard both physically and psychologically, but I think I have the ability to turn it around. I felt better in Andorra, but I was fighting hard, staying focused. But I've reached the first rest day and I'm content, as I notice I'm growing into this race. I came here to do a good GC, and I advanced a few places in Andorra. Let's hope I step by step get in better shape and continue to climb the overall standings".

The team will do a 90-minute ride on tomorrow's rest day, the team's website reports.

Results stage nine (full results here):
  • (1, Philippe Gilbert (BMC), 4:45:28)
  • 8, Gorka Verdugo, 0:12
  • 10, Igor Antón, s.t.
  • 33, Iván Velasco, s.t.
  • 53, Mikel Astarloza, 0:28
  • 54, Amets Txurruka, s.t.
  • 56, Juan José Oroz, s.t.
  • 59, Rubén Pérez, 0:41
  • 102, Romain Sicard, 2:20
  • 161, Mikel Landa, 6:59
General classification:
  • (1, Joaquím Rodríguez (Katusha), 34:44:55)
  • 8, Igor Antón, 3:07
  • 22, Gorka Verdugo, 5:50
  • 30, Amets Txurruka, 8:25
  • 34, Mikel Astarloza, 12:09
  • 37, Iván Velasco, 13:20
  • 39, Juan José Oroz, 15:21
  • 43, Romain Sicard, 18:51
  • 87, Mikel Landa, 42:40
  • 91, Rubén Pérez, 45:18
As for the GP Ouest France - Plouay, a race Euskaltel never have come close to tasting success at, the team had one of its better showings. Pierre Cazaux formed part of the break of the day and as such did his job to perfection, while Egoi Martínez, seemingly on a never-ending good run of form, figured in a dangerous late-race move alongside Voeckler, Coppel and Galland. It came to naught of course, but still a great effort from the veteran.

Edvald Boasson Hagen broke clear towards the end and soloed in at a canter, beating Portuguese all-rounder Rui Costa and Heinrich Haussler, who led home the pack. Gorka Izagirre, Mikel Nieve and Peio Bilbao all featured in that first group.

  • (1, Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky), 5:55:28)
  • 35, Gorka Izagirre, 0:05
  • 45, Peio Bilbao, s.t.
  • 55, Mikel Nieve, s.t.
  • 85, Ricardo García, 0:58
  • 95, Egoi Martínez, 1:20
  • 129, Ion Izagirre, 8:27
  • 130, Pierre Cazaux, s.t.
  • DNF: Pablo Urtasun
Photo: Iñaki Azanza

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