Friday, September 07, 2012

Vuelta round-up

It's been hectic and spectacular racing in Spain ever since I started having trouble with my internet connection at the start of the week. For Euskaltel it's been a week of ups and downs.

Gorka Verdugo has been the star of the team shining the brightest, taking fourth at that stage to the Fuente Dé at Wednesday and now lying in 11th place overall with two stages to go. The ever-shy super domestique still maintains the overall isn't a goal for him, and that it's still everything for Igor Antón, but ahead of the mighty Bola del Mundo he'll surely be hoping to surpass his countryman over at Movistar, a certain Beñat Intxausti, and thus grab tenth in Madrid. As much for his own career as for aiding Euskaltel's ever-lasting quest for UCI points, it would be a noteable achievement for the 33-year-old to finally grab a richly deserved top ten in a Grand Tour.

As for the team's leader, Antón's been there or thereabouts but never really up to anything noteworthy. He's in a distant ninth facing the last two stages, and wasn't too optimistic of taking a stage victory this weekend when speaking to the team's wesbite on Tuesday's rest-day.

"Obviously I would have liked to have been closer to the best, but we'll continue to try and climb the standings", he said. "To win at the Bolda del Mundo will be very difficult. The strongest ones will have to watch each other while I find that little extra I've been missing. They won't let me go in a break, being in the top ten complicates things, so I would have to beat them at their game."

Seeing as Antón has previously prevailed on the Zoncolan over in Italy, the vicious ramps of the Bola should in theory suit a rider with Antón's characteristics. Check out the testing climb close to Madrid here.

As for the youngsters on the team, Mikel Landa and Romain Sicard seem to be heading in opposite directions form-wise. The former seems to be improving slightly after a lacklustre first two weeks (showcased by his decent ride to 16th on stage 17), while the Frenchman appears to be running out of gas somewhat after a solid first half of the race.

Juan José Oroz, having a steady if unspectacular race, recalled Mikel Nieve's epic breakout solo win atop the Cotobello two years ago. Read his words here.

General classification ahead of stage 20 (full results here):
  • (1, Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank), 77:41:29)
  • 9, Igor Antón, 13:52
  • 11, Gorka Verdugo, 15:54
  • 27, Iván Velasco, 44:35
  • 29, Amets Txurruka, 49:21
  • 41, Mikel Astarloza, 1:23:28
  • 44, Juan José Oroz, 1:23:55
  • 53, Romain Sicard, 1:35:41
  • 68, Rubén Pérez, 1:54:04
  • 70, Mikel Landa, 1:57:42
In the team rankings the team is doing better than in the individual ones. Euskaltel is second only to Movistar. 

Photo: Iñaki Azanza

1 comment:

Vegard said...

Definitely a clim for Igor's charatceristics, but considering the shape he's in, my guess is that he comes home 4th on the stage


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