Casar bested again by Sanchez in a Tour de France breakaway
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Sunday, July 15, 2012

Casar bested again by Sanchez in a Tour de France breakaway

by Kyle Moore at 7:27 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
Izagirre, Minard no match for multiple stage-winning Spaniard or green jersey Peter Sagan

Sandy CasarOnce every July since 2009, Sandy Casar (FDJ-BigMat) has been matched up with Luis Leon Sanchez (Rabobank) in a winning breakaway of the Tour de France, with the latest duel occurring Sunday on stage 14.

For the third time in those four occasions, the Spaniard got the best of the Frenchman for the stage win. With his victory on Sunday, Sanchez now has four career stage wins in the Tour, with three of them achieved over the FDJ-BigMat veteran.

Back in 2009, Sanchez took his second career win in Saint-Girons, besting breakaway companions Casar and Vladimir Efimkin. One year later, Casar turned the tables with his only notch in the series (pictured right), outsprinting Sanchez and Damiano Cunego in Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne. Flash forward one more year to 2011, during the infamous stage nine to Saint-Flour, when Johnny Hoogerland and Juan Antonio Flecha were sent sprawling by a TV car. Sanchez, Casar, and Thomas Voeckler survived, with Sanchez grabbing the victory, Voeckler swiping the yellow jersey, and Casar settling for third.

The duo’s 2012 race was a bit different in style, with a ten-man breakaway going to the finish in stage 14, including green jersey holder Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale). This forced Sanchez to attack alone with 11km to race, and he held it to the finish to grab victory. Casar took third, losing out in the sprint for second to Sagan.

Missing out on victory had Casar understandably disappointed at the finish, as the Frenchman wryly noted another defeat at the hands of Sanchez. ‘They must be magnetized!’ quipped FDJ-BigMat on their website.

“The goal is to win. When I go in the escape, I think only of the victory,” Casar acknowledged after stage 14. “I attacked on the final climb [the Mur de Péguère] because there were many strong men in the break, including Peter Sagan, whom we could not let go with us. And in the end, I lost out to a super Sanchez, who is always with me when I escape. There are still opportunities [to try again] but I’m getting tired with the Giro d’Italia that I did two months ago.”

Also in the winning break with Casar, Sanchez, and Sagan were Gorka Izagirre (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Sebastian Minard (AG2R-La Mondiale). Both were pleased to get a top result in a Tour de France stage, but both were a bit resigned to the fact that they were faced with the experience and talent of the other riders in their group.

“At the start of the Tour I said I would like the opportunity to enter a breakaway and try for a stage win and today I made it,” Izagirre said. “The escape was made up of high quality riders – winners – and I’ve done the best I could. In the end, I finished fifth, but I’m having a good feeling about this Tour and I’m satisfied with my performance.

“I didn’t have much time to think about strategy. On the last descent I gave it a lot and tried to get away with Sagan and Casar, as three candidates [for the win] is better than five, but it was not possible. We have seen that Luis Leon is accustomed to these situations and was the most ready. He took advantage when Sagan had dropped to the car and attacked. I thought twice, and with Luis Leon, that is a long time.”

Minard was dropped out of contention on the Mur de Péguère and came home seventh, with Sergio Paulinho (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank) at 2’51” back.

“The team fought well. There were six of us appointed initially to try to get in the breakaway. I finally found myself at the front and I was happy to have escaped on a beautiful stage like this. Obviously, the goal we are faced with is to go for the win but there were big riders with me. I managed to climb the Mur de Péguère but I cracked a mile from the summit, dropped by Sagan. I ended up with Paulinho but we couldn’t manage to make it to the front and we raced for sixth place. It was still a good day for me. We also did good work in the team standings.”


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