Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Euskaltel leaders survive first test in Vuelta al País Vasco

The third stage of the Vuelta al País Vasco saw the general classification contenders faced with their first real test. Samuel Sánchez and Igor Antón showed signs of weakness, but just about did enough to keep their ambitions intact.

The 168km third stage ended atop the viciously steep ramps of La Lejana, east of Bilbao, and represented the first summit finish of this year's race.

Sky's pocket-rocket Sergio Henao pipped fellow Colombian Carlos Betancur to the line to claim both the stage win and the overall lead, while Euskaltel's GC duo Igor Antón and Samuel Sánchez came through for ninth and tenth respectively after struggling in the final clicks.

The former ceded 16 seconds to Henao and six to a group of overall rivals including Porte and Contador, while the defending champion finished a further handful of seconds in arrears. The pair appeared to be in serious difficulty right from the start of the climb, but both paced themselves well to stay in contention for an elevated GC position come the final stage on Saturday.

"I went from bad to better", Antón told reporters post-stage. "I wasn't going well on the first part, but I felt better on the decisive parts and my legs responded. It might have been possible to finish a bit further ahead, but the only thing we can do now is to look forward to tomorrow's stage to the Arrate".

Sánchez, on his part, was content with his performance, despite showing he's far from at his peak.

"I defended myself well on a type of terrain that's not best suited to me and tried to minimize my losses", he said. "I was at my game, and I'm pleased with my ride".

Elsewhere, Mikel Landa gave further proof of his aggressive attitude, yet lack of form, by forming part of the break of the day but struggling to keep up with the pace. Amets Txurruka showed better shape by going on the attack for the third consecutive day and building a near-insurmountable lead in the mountains classification.

Results (full results here):
  • (1, Sergio Henao (Sky), 3:54:22)
  • 9, Igor Antón, 0:16
  • 10, Samuel Sánchez, 0:21
  • 44, Ion Izagirre, 1:44
  • 78, Gorka Izagirre, 6:43
  • 79, Egoi Martínez, 7:25
  • 95, Mikel Landa, 10:09
  • 111, Romain Sicard, 10:19
  • 131, Rubén Pérez, 13:21
General classification:
  • (1, Sergio Henao (Sky), 12:24:26)
  • 13, Samuel Sánchez, 0:26
  • 17, Igor Antón, 0:28
  • 41, Ion Izagirre, 1:49
  • 68, Gorka Izagirre, 6:48
  • 72, Egoi Martínez, 7:46
  • 114, Romain Sicard, 17:06
  • 118, Mikel Landa, 17:30
  • 129, Rubén Pérez, 19:51
Photo: Deia

1 comment:

Remo said...

Samu's still a bit below his best but with the Giro in his mind is understandable. But he showed again how intelligent he is, dosing his effort at his best. Sadly he started the last climb probably around the 25th place and to finish 10th is quite an achievement. He usually come better every day and Samu in good shape on friday can give us a big big surprise ! Igor Anton failed again to stay with the best while he showed a bit of an improvement.


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