Sunday, April 28, 2013

Salas ready for battle of his life

With two races to go, the race for the overall Copa de España crown is wide open.

Naturgas Energía's prolific Frenchman Loïc Chetout heads up the standings with 488 points ahead of Sunday's Memorial Rodríguez Inguanzo in Cantabria, but has three big-name rivals all within seven points of his lead.

Airán Fernández of Coluer, who won the 2012 edition of the race solo, is only two points back, while Caja Rural duo Fernando Grijalba and Ibai Salas are only a further one and four points adrift.

It promises to go down to the wire in Legazpi, Gipuzkoa, on Wednesday, but the race in Cantabria holds the key: you might not win the prestigious overall crown there, but you sure can lose it.

Salas, a winner in the Trofeo Guerrita last weekend and second in Inguanzo behind Fernández last year, appears to be approaching top form just at the right time - the 21-year-old might just go one better this time around.

"Last year I was able to do a good race and ended up second", he told Basque Cycling News. "As in all races I do, I intend to give my maximum on Sunday and I aim to fight for the win. What's more, the terrain is well suited to me.

"I'm very pleased with how the season's going - I'm consistent, I'm in good shape and I aim to be up there in every race".

Salas, already a winner of a Copa de España race in Aiztondo last year, didn't want to prioritize the overall over the race itself, or the other way around for that matter, saying they're both hold importance.

"Both are important goals. In the race you've got to try to score points, though there's still the last race in Legazpi, and it'll be important in the race for the overall Copa. I'll fight with all my strength to take that crown.

"We are four riders really, really close, but there are many more riders who mathematically could win it, so we can't neglect them".

One of the Caja Rural rider's biggest rivals will, naturally, be Naturgas Energía's Loïc Chetout. Chetout is yet to win a Copa de España race this year, but will no doubt, just like Salas, find the course in Cantabria to his liking.

To help Chetout out, Naturgas Energía will send the following riders:
Noel Gil, Loïc Chetout, Karl Baudron, Pablo Comins, Víctor Etxeberría, Álvaro Trueba and Alain Santamaría.

To aid Salas (and Grijalba for that matter) in his quest, the following Caja Rural riders will be present:
Antonio Molina, Ibai Salas, Fernando Grijalba, Miguel Ángel Benito, Asier Unanue, Ramón Domene and Francisco José Medina.

Full start lists can be found here.

Photo: BiciCiclismo

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