Euskaltel-Euskadi's Igor Anton steadily rising
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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Euskaltel-Euskadi's Igor Anton steadily rising

by Jered Gruber at 12:43 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Castilla y León
 

27-year-old, Igor Anton, has been on a steady march forward as a general classification contender for his Basque team, Euskaltel-Euskadi. After four years of progression, it appears that Anton is on the verge of making his firm entrance into the sport's elite upper echelon of climbers...and even general classification riders.

Anton, who weighs in at a paltry 59 kg, is a climber by nature, a fact emphatically underlined by his brilliant victory in Friday's mountaintop finish on the Morredero, which also netted him the overall lead. Anton managed to distance some of the sport's best climbers, including Alberto Contador, by 13 seconds over the waning moments of the climb.

Anton was pleased with his performance on Friday's climb: "There were many great riders in the break, but I managed to have cold blood and wait for the key moment. It is a reward for the hard work and preparation I've done this winter."

Even Contador lauded Anton's efforts following his solo win: “Everyone likes to win, but Igor has been very strong.”

Anton was less than hopeful about his chances in the time trial though, confessing that he was no specialist in the time trial, but he would "try [his] best."

His performance in Saturday's time trial, however, showed a little more than what he let on was possible the day before. He showed that he could keep at least a respectable distance to one of the world's best in the race against the clock, Alberto Contador. Anton was indeed distanced by Contador, but his result, 59 seconds behind the Triple Crown winning, Grand Tour dominating, Contador, was enough to warrant Anton stating that he was "surprised" by his performance.

"I am very satisfied...I have done a very good time."

Anton burst on to the scene in 2006 with a stage win at the Vuelta, then continued that progression forward in 2007. He took a stage and 7th overall at the Tour de Romandie, then confirmed everyone's suspicions when he took 8th overall at the Vuelta that fall - this was a GC rider in the making.

2008 and 2009 were suppposed to be the next steps forward for Anton, but he enjoyed only mixed fortunes. He placed a solid 3rd overall at the 2008 Tour de Suisse and added a stage win to his palmares en route to the great result in Switzerland, but a stellar ride at the Vuelta in September was cut short by a crash, which resulted in a broken collarbone and his abandonment. 2009 was even more difficult for Anton; he rode with eyes on the Tour de France, but netted nary a result before or during the Tour. He managed 54th at the Tour de Romandie, 32nd and the Volta a Catalunya, 18th at the Dauphine, then 66th overall at the Tour de France with nary a stage result along the way. His post-Tour de France saw a fit Anton take victory at Subida Urkiola, but that was the extent of his success - 33rd overall at the Vuelta was a disappointing finale to his 2009 campaign.

For 2010, Anton looks to be back to the progression he began to forge in the years 2006-2008. In less than a month's time, he has an 11th place overall at Catalunya, 2nd at the Klasika Primavera, a stage at Castilla y Leon, and what should be second overall behind the world's best stage racer, Alberto Contador.

Anton will of course miss tomorrow's Amstel Gold Race, while wrapping up his podium spot at Castilla y Leon, but he will take part in the final two races in the Ardennes Triptych, La Fleche Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege.

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