Monday, March 25, 2013

Euskaltel duo go for broke in Catalunya finale

In a last-ditch attempt to find glory at the Volta a Catalunya, both Juan José Oroz and Mikel Nieve went on the attack on Sunday's seventh and final stage of the WorldTour event.

Garmin-Sharp's Daniel Martin, who held the race lead ever since his barnstorming run to victory on stage four, kept hold of his overall leader's jersey in downtown Barcelona to claim the overall win ahead of Katusha's local rider Joaquin Rodríguez and Italian Michele Scarponi of Lampre-Merida.

But the bunch wasn't about to sit back and give Martin an easy ride on Sunday. The 122km leg starting in El Vendrell and ending in the city centre of Barcelona, taking in eight circuits of the fames Montjuïc park, saw ten men break clear early on to establish the day's main break. Euskaltel's Juan José Oroz made the cut and did his part to give the group a chance to make it to the end, but the frantic pace in a Katusha-led peloton saw to it that the escapists were reeled in with some 20 clicks to ride.

Another, more threatening move soon jumped clear of the pack, consisting of erstwhile Euskaltel climber David López (now of Sky), Tim Wellens (Lotto-Belisol) and Thomas De Gendt (Vacansoleil). Sensing this could be the winning move, Mikel Nieve made several bursts of acceleration in order to bridge the gap to the leading trio, but it wasn't to be. Instead, the aforementioned Scarponi and RadioShack's Robert Kiserlovski attacked and made their way to the leaders, forming a quintet that would hold off the peloton to the line.

De Gendt ousted López in the dash for the line to take the win on the day, while Igor Antón and Mikel Nieve both came in with the first major group behind the leaders at 21 seconds.

Due to his consistent riding all week, the latter ended up as the team's top-placed rider overall in 13th - two placed ahead of his team-mate Antón.

In the team rankings, Euskaltel finished up fourth.

Results (full results here):
  • (1, Thomas De Gendt (Vacansoleil), 2:45:42)
  • 31, Igor Antón, 0:21
  • 38, Mikel Nieve, s.t.
  • 65, Mikel Astarloza, 0:45
  • 67, Mikel Landa, 1:15
  • 87, Ricardo Mestre, 6:15
  • 97, Juan José Oroz, s.t.
Final general classification:
  • (1, Daniel Martin (Garmin-Sharp), 29:02:25)
  • 13, Mikel Nieve, 2:42
  • 15, Igor Antón, 2:52
  • 33, Mikel Landa, 8:05
  • 54, Mikel Astarloza, 22:32
  • 95, Juan José Oroz, 48:00
  • 96, Ricardo Mestre, 48:14
Photo: Euskaltel Euskadi

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