Sunday, January 27, 2013

Wild Finale Down Under leads to strong GC finish

In a wild last day of racing at the final day of the Santos Tour Down Under, where Euskaltel's Izagirre brothers were fighting to keep their high GC positions, the team successfully defended Ion and Gorka's 4th and 7th places overall. The SKY team was hellbent on putting their leader Geraint Thomas on the podium and were using their strength to try and catapult Thomas past Ion Izagirre (4th) and Ben Hermans (RadioShack-Leopard, 3rd) via the sprint bonifications during the 20-lap circuit race.

The setting was beautiful for the final stage in Adelaide and while the temperature was balmy, the racing from the gun was red hot. Multiple breakaways attempted to get away but SKY controlled the race, not allowing anyone to get too far up the road. The first sprint point on lap 8 was hotly contested as Ion and Gorka, along with Jon Aberasturi and Juan José Lobato, pushed their way to the front, tagging onto the end of the SKY train. When the dust settled, Geraint Thomas took the full 3 seconds and Wilco Kelderman (Blanco), who was even with Gorka, took a 1 second bonus, which left Ion visibly frustrated in 4th place; banging the bars in frustration. At this point, Ion and Gorka had both moved down to 5th and 8th place overall. The 2nd sprint point was more successful for Euskaltel as J.J. Lobato was able to take 2nd place, allowing Gorka to keep his 8th place secure for the time being.

As SKY accomplished their mission of getting Thomas on the podium, there was still a stage to be contested. The Lotto-Belisol team pushed the pace as they looked to take their leader Andre Greipel to his 3rd stage win. Gari Bravo was able to get himself into a breakaway after the 2nd sprint and grabbed himself the 2nd on the 2nd KOM of the day on the slight hill on the course. As the laps wore down, Lotto, SKY and Lampre took to the front as they attempted to get their sprinters in order. Edvald Boasson Hagen pushed the pace hard and created gaps in the peloton, which in turn helped the Euskaltel riders. As Greipel took the sprint win, Ion and Gorka were able to come in at 4 seconds down, which allowed them to move back into 4th and 7th overall, respectively, thanks to less attentive riders who were caught out.

Euskaltel were able to gain 91 World Tour points for their efforts over the week, which accounts for ~16% of their total haul last season. While the season has only just begun, Euskaltel now sits second on the UCI World Tour rankings and they should be able to pick up more points at the next World Tour races, Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico.

Results (full results here)

  • 1. (Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) 1:52'59")
  • 20. Gorka Izagirre +4"
  • 30. Ion Izagirre s.t.
  • 48. Jon Aberasturi +9"
  • 60. Juan José Oroz +25"
  • 77. Juan José Lobato +37"
  • 78. Garikoitz Bravo s.t.
  • 99. Mikel Astarloza +57"
  • 1. (Tom-Jelte Slagter (Blanco) 18:28'32")
  • 4. Ion Izagirre +32"
  • 7. Gorka Izagirre +36"
  • 38. Juan José Oroz +7'00"
  • 54. Garikoitz Bravo +11'17"
  • 103. Jon Aberasturi +27'03"
  • 104. Juan José Lobato +27'29"
  • 122. Mikel Astarloza +36'00"
Final Lap Video


Chris said...

Thanks for the stories! Nice to see our team in action again. Hoping today Kocjan can secure the first win for the team and defend the foreigners policy a bit.

Colin northern Ireland said...

Great start for the season well done to all the boys who went down under

Stephen said...

Really good start to the season on all fronts,maybe the uncertantity last year affected everyone more that we thought


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