Saturday, March 23, 2013

Some Basques do know how to time trial

While Euskaltel are experiencing familiar troubles in the races against the clock this season, the same can hardly be said about the younger riders on the Basque circuit: Naturgas Energía grabbed second in Saturday's team time trial event in Laukiz, only bettered by Caja Rural.

The Torneo Lehendakari ranked event, created by the Fundación Euskadi itself this year, was held over 34,8 kilometres in the Biscaya region, taking the riders from Laukiz to Maruri, Gatika, Mungia and back to Laukiz.

In what was the first ever time trial event to feature on the Basque sub-23 calendar, the powerful Caja Rural team came out tops entirely as expected. The green-clad riders blitzed the competition with a time of 44 minutes and 56 seconds, finishing a full 39 seconds ahead of Naturgas in second. Baqué-Campos, led by David Etxebarria this year, closed out the podium.

  1. Caja Rural, 44:56
  2. Naturgas Energía, 45:35
  3. Baqué-Campos, 45:37
  4. Seguros Bilbao, 45:42
  5. Gipuzkoa-Eki Sport, 46:25
  6. Koplad-Uni2, 47:37
  7. Reyno de Navarra-WRC-MAKO, 48:00
  8. Ikolan Lanaldi-Ordiziako, 49:18
  9. Ibaigane Opel, 49:22
  10. Debabarrena, 49:26
  11. Lizarte, 49:35
  12. Kanpazar Harrobia, 52:11
The result should bode well for tomorrow's big rendezvous, the prestigious Subida a Gorla. Illustrious names like Juan Manuel Gárate (twice), Mikel Landa, Beñat Intxausti, Andrey Amador, Alberto Contador, Joaquim Rodríguez, Carlos Sastre, Iñigo Cuesta, Julián Gorospe, Peio Cabestany and Alberto Fernández have all triumphed in Bergara, Gipuzkoa, ever since the race's inception in 1975.

The race was somewhat surprisingly taken out by Lizarte's prodigious Santiago Ramírez last time out, but the competition is expected to be fiercer on Sunday as, unlike last year, the race doesn't coincide with a Copa de España race.

The aforementioned Etxebarria rates Caja Rural due Ibai Salas and Fernando Grijalba as the biggest favourites, while Naturgas will have a few aces up their sleeves as well in the shape of the on-fire Loïc Chetout, Imanol Estévez and the consistent Víctor Etxeberría.

"This race is getting more important every year", Naturgas DS Ion Lazkano told Deia. "It's a prestigious race; the winners list is impressive and the climb in itself is long, hard and for pure climbers... Both the riders and the fans like that".

Naturgas roster: Loïc Chetout, Noel Gil, Víctor Etxeberría, Imanol Estévez, Aitor González, Eder Sáez de Ocariz, Alain González, Karl Baudron, Alain Santamaría, Oier Sánchez, Álvaro Trueba and Francisco Javier Martín.

Photo: Pascal Baudron

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