Spain on the rise in the Giro d’Italia
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Sunday, May 13, 2012

Spain on the rise in the Giro d’Italia

by Ben Atkins at 2:46 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia
 
Joaquim Rodríguez and Beñat Inxausti leading the Armada on the climb to Lago Laceno

joaquim rodriguezSpanish riders were on the rise in today’s eighth stage of the Giro d’Italia, as Beñat Intxausti (Movistar) gave chase to eventual stage winner Domenico Pozzovivo (Colnago-CSF Inox), and Joaquim Rodríguez won the sprint for third place behind him. With things still tight between the overall contenders, both riders made gains in the general classification, as both took time bonuses on the finish line.

The eight seconds for Rodríguez - as he went one place better than his fourth the previous day - helped the Catalan Flèche Wallonne winner jump from third to second in the standings, leapfrogging yesterday’s winner Paolo Tiralongo (Astana), and now sits just nine seconds behind race leader Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda). While it is still very early in the race, and the bigger mountains are yet to come, the Katusha team leader is confident about his form so far.

“Today again I felt in a good shape,” he explained. “The climb was hard and the group didn't face it full gas, because the attacks were not from riders in a good position in overall standings; since this competition is still long, nobody wanted to force the pace.

“In the end I was in a good position for the final sprint and I managed to win it,” he continued. “This proves my legs and responding very well. It's a good step forward, I gained eight seconds over all the others and of course I'm happy about that, but still there's not such a big gap between me and all the favourites so everything can happen.”

Basque rider Intxausti meanwhile, took twelve seconds bonus - as well as another four from his gap over the peloton - and jumped from 13th to fifth. In only his second year with the Spanish superteam, many of the world’s eyes are on more experienced riders like former podium finisher Marzio Bruseghin, and Italian champion Giovanni Visconti. As the steep climb went on however, the 26-year-old winner of last month’s Vuelta a Asturias saw his chance to attack and took it.

benat intxausti“There's a lot from winning to taking second, but to I'm really happy, to be honest, because the day turned out really well, we took some seconds back…” he said. “At the climb, I saw nobody was moving due to the pace by [Liquigas-Cannondale’s Sylwester] Szmyd and I gave it a try, though Pozzovivo had already too much of a gap. It's true that there was a moment when I was only 20 seconds behind, but I knew it was going to be really hard, because those 5k were a one-on-one, and even though I did my best, I couldn't reach him.

“Seems like things are going well for me in a Grand Tour at last, but this has just started and there's still a long way to go in this Giro,” he continued. “Getting up-front so early doesn't change anything. The only goal is riding day by day, because it's obvious that there's some guys really more experienced than me, always at the fore in the Giro. We'll try to keep these performances coming, profiting from chances like today's and searching for a stage win.”

Although it has not taken a victory in the race yet, Intxausti’s Movistar team has been present on most days, which the Basque rider sees as a sign that the team is strong.

“We were close already during the stage when Lastras crashed [stage six - ed],” he said. “We already miss him a lot because he was a crucial piece here. Also Herrada yesterday, Amador on the breakaway for all stage today... the team is looking strong like they always go. Tomorrow's stage seems like a relatively calm one, and it will do well for me to recover from the efforts of these three days.”

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