Saturday, September 08, 2012

Sicard strong as Antón comes up short

Euskaltel risked it all on today's penultimate stage of the Vuelta a España to the Bola del Mundo, but were once again left empty handed as Denis Menchov, part of the day's break, went all the way.

Romain Sicard, on the verge of completing his very first GT, formed part of that same break that reached the foot of the gruelling 11,5km climb, and maintained a steady pace en route to a solid fifth on the stage. Euskaltel put all their guys on the front a long way out to keep the break on a reasonable distance in the hope of setting up Antón for a tilt at the stage win, but the lack of big motors in the team were evident as they could hardly claw back time on the big 20-man break. The orange-led peloton reached the base of the climb a distant five minutes behind Menchov, De Weert, Porte, Sicard and co., and the win was thus out of reach.

Antón still made good on his promise to do his best 'till the very end of the race though by attacking some five clicks from the line. Though lacking his usually explosive accelerations, he still managed to open up a decent-sized gap and looked a strong bet for climbing the GC ladder. Unfortunately he faded somewhat on the final three kilometres on the concrete, was passed by Purito and co., and now has to settle for ninth in Madrid as he only just held off the guys ahead of him on GC.

Speaking post-race, Antón expressed his delight at giving it his all for the whole three weeks.

"I did everything to do a good GC and I didn't manage to finish higher up. My job was to ride for the overall until the last day, and I'll now be ninth. I'm happy though, as I gave it my all", he said. "The team showed itself every day, today too. We did our best to harden the race and play our cards (today). I'm very grateful for the team's work".

Verdugo will not finish inside the top ten as distancing Beñat Intxausti by 32 seconds was nine seconds too little, meaning he'll come in a highly impressive 11th if he gets through tomorrow's processional stage unscathed.

Iván Velasco and Amets Txurruka are on course to finish 26th and 29th respectively as they kept up their solid climbing today.

Stage 20 results (full results here):
  • (1, Denis Menchov (Katusha), 4:48:48)
  • 5, Romain Sicard, 1:39
  • 14, Igor Antón, 4:24
  • 20, Gorka Verdugo, 4:43
  • 47, Iván Velasco, 8:22
  • 52, Mikel Landa, 9:20
  • 55, Amets Txurruka, 9:55
  • 98, Mikel Astarloza, 19:09
  • 105, Juan José Oroz, 20:13
  • 109, Rubén Pérez, 20:16
General classification:
  • (1, Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank), 82:14:52)
  • 9, Igor Antón, 14:01
  • 11, Gorka Verdugo, 16:22
  • 26, Iván Velasco, 48:42
  • 29, Amets Txurruka, 55:01
  • 44, Romain Sicard, 1:33:05
  • 48, Mikel Astarloza, 1:38:22
  • 50, Juan José Oroz, 1:39:53
  • 69, Mikel Landa, 2:02:47
  • 75, Rubén Pérez, 2:10:05
Photo: Iñaki Azanza


Anonymous said...

Impressive ride from Romain today and one I hope he continues to show in future races.

Good to see the rest of the guys on the front as well in a sea of orange!


Colin said...

Good effort from the boys today and not a bad tour over all
best of all over the 3 weeks was the team time trial

Josh Buehner said...

I was so happy to see Sicard perform the way he did today. Maybe this boost of confidence will really change things around for him, and good on EE for having faith in him. The kids got talent, no question.

All in all, well this was one hell of a race! And from a Euskaltel pov I thought it was a very successful Vuelta. 2 (almost) top 10s. And 2nd overall in Team classification.

Igor fought hard. He gave us that this year. It's clear he wasn't on top form, but to be honest his top form might have only gotten him 7th. Those guys were in another stratosphere this year.

Magnus said...

Sicard should benefit next year from having a GT in his legs, so he might push on to bigger things. 44th overall isn't too bad either in your first three-weeker.


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