Valverde expects big reshuffling in Vuelta al Pais Vasco, Freire rues missed stage wins
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Thursday, April 08, 2010

Valverde expects big reshuffling in Vuelta al Pais Vasco, Freire rues missed stage wins

by Conal Andrews at 7:34 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 

As one of the strongest climbers in the peloton, Spanish rider Alejandro Valverde today will be one of those in contention to take over the leader’s jersey in the Vuelta al Pais Vasco. The Caisse d’Epargne rider already topped the general classification after taking the first stage, but conceded the jersey yesterday to Oscar Freire (Rabobank), who was second in the dash to the line.

“The final was not a good one for me and I decided to take no risks in the sprint”, he said after the stage.

“I lost the leadership but I am in a very good position. The stage of tomorrow [Thursday] will be very important and many things can happen even if I believe that the final time trial will be decisive for the final classification of this 50th edition of the Tour of the Basque Country.”

Today’s leg to Eibar includes seven categorised climbs, amongst them two first cat ascents in the final forty kilometres. These are the Alto de Ixua and the Alto de Uzartza, with the summit of the latter coming just 2.2 kilometres from the end. It’s going to be a very tough, and decisive, stage of the race.

As things stood this morning, 22 riders were within three seconds of Freire’s jersey. That list of contenders is going to shrink dramatically in the next few hours and while Freire is a solid climber on certain types of courses, he is likely to slip back today.

He didn’t sound too motivated by taking over the leader’s jersey yesterday, saying that he regretted missing out on taking stage wins.

“I want victories. I have missed three chances I had, though I would have won the first stage under more normal circumstances,” he said, according to Reuters.

“This time I was in the wrong position on the last corner. I was only in eighth or ninth place and it ruined my sprint.”

Freire actually crossed the line first on day one, but was relegated as he changed direction inside the final 100 metres. Valverde protested, saying he was impeded, and was handed the victory.

Some found that hard to take, given that Valverde looks likely to face a two year ban for his links to Operación Puerto.

Freire then finished second to Valverde on Tuesday, and was runner-up again to Francesco Gavazzi (Lampre-Farnese Vini) yesterday. While he is unlikely to figure today, the triple world champion should have a chance on tomorrow’s penultimate stage.

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