With Euskaltel's general classification ambitions all but out the window at the race's halfway stage, canny veteran Egoi Martínez made his traditional breakaway appearance in the Giro d'Italia's 11th stage in an effort to give his team-mates a much-needed boost.
The lumpy 182-kilometre trek from Cave di Predil to Vajont had written 'successful break' all over it, and birthday boy Martínez, turning 35 today, was unsurprisingly the team's man for the occasion. The former Discovery Channel rider was one of the lucky 20 who got a free pass to hunt glory, but no one could match Garmin-Sharp's Ramunas Navardauskas who cantered to the win ahead of BMC's Daniel Oss and Stefano Pirazzi of Bardiani Valvole.
"This was one of the stages where we had to be in the break, and we did just that", he said upon completing the stage in seventh place. "We knew the group would have a good chance of staying away on a day like this, so we had to get into the move to stand a chance of winning. But in a group this big it's always difficult to surprise the rest and win. A top rider, who was wise enough to attack before the last climb, came out tops".
Back among the favourites, Sánchez managed to stay with the frontrunners, but he was the only orange-clad rider in the 40-something group. Jorge Azanza came in 20 seconds or so back, while Gorka Verdugo continues to struggle, coming in 13 minutes in arrears. He was accompanied in that group by most of his team-mates, including Robert Vrecer who earlier on had made an ill-fated attempt to bridge the gap to the breakaway.
- (1, Ramunas Navardauskas (Garmin-Sharp), 4.23:14)
- 7, Egoi Martínez, 3:07
- 43, Samuel Sánchez, 5:41
- 49, Jorge Azanza, 6:00
- 105, Ricardo Mestre, 13:35
- 112, Robert Vrecer, s.t.
- 125, Ioannis Tamouridis, s.t.
- 136, Gorka Verdugo, s.t.
- 138, Miguel Mínguez, s.t.
Photo: Euskaltel Euskadi