RadioShack rider Haimar Zubeldia wins Tour de l'Ain overall
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Saturday, August 14, 2010

RadioShack rider Haimar Zubeldia wins Tour de l'Ain overall

by Bjorn Haake at 12:26 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results
Wouter Poels takes final stage

Wouter Poels outsprinted Frenchman David Moncoutié in the final stage of the Tour de l'Ain, but RadioShack's Haimar Zubeldia must have been even happier to cross the line. Overcoming a seven-second deficit, the Spaniard took the overall honors in the French stage race. It was a close decision, with both Poels and Zubeldia equal on time in the final ranking.

The final stage was from Culoz to Belley, over 126km. An eight-man group formed on the Colombier  climg and stayed away from the peloton. Zubeldia and Tejay van Garderen were those with the best overall standings. Zubeldia ended ahead of Van Garderen in the sprint, securing his win. The peloton had splintered behind, with Greg van Avermaet fighting hard in the mountains and getting ninth on the day, 28 seconds behind. He was also ninth in GC in the end.

The margins of error were small. "We knew it would be close today," said  Zubeldia on the team's website.  "There were some strong guys very close in the GC.  We watched Moncoutié, as he was potentially the most dangerous." The Frenchman was in 19th place in the overall going into the stage, 18 seconds behind.  "In the end it was Poels who came up with the results." Trailing by 17 seconds and receiving a ten-second bonus put Poels on equal time with Zubeldia, who just missed out on bonuses with his fourth place on the stage. "It's good we survived to take the victory.

"The Team did a great job for me today.    It was a small team but a big success." Usually, Zubeldia's role is differently.  "For me personally it is nice to win although my job in the team is to help others win.  This time the responsibility came to me and I'm glad I didn't disappoint them.  Now I will take one week of rest and then race the Plouay and Poitou-Charentes.  My season is not over yet."  After missing the Tour de France due to a broken wrist, Zubeldia  has a full end-of-the-season race calendar ahead of him.

"I'm so glad I pushed Haimar in the prologue when you see that the margin of victory was so small," said  Team Director Alain Gallopin after the stage. Gallopin's responsibility for Radio Shack was bad news for one of his family members. "It's a pity that we took the yellow jersey from my nephew Tony, but there is no room for sentimentality here.  Every Team RadioShack victory counts.  We still want to show and prove that we deserved a spot in the Vuelta," said Gallopin.

Zubeldia the first and last leader of the race

Zubeldia was the first leader of the race as he took the prologue in Ambérieu on Tuesday. Zubeldia covered the three kilometers in 3'38"49, which equals a average of 49.43 km/h. He beat Wilco Kelderman (Rabobank Continetal) and Laurent Mangel (Saur-Sojasun). Sprint ace Greg van Avermaet was fourth on the day, just half a second back.

Stéphane Poulhies won stage one from Lagnieu to Saint Vulbas (144km), with Romain Feillu in second place. That gave Feillu the yellow jersey, thanks to the six-second time bonus at the finish. Zubeldia was now four seconds behind in the overall.

Feillu then insured his stay in the yellow jersey by winning stage two, from Le Parc des Oiseaux to Trévoux over 139km. In addition to his 10-second bonus, he put another second between himself and the field, led by Steve Chainel and Tony Gallopin. Feillu looked to be in a good position, with a 12-second lead over Gallopin and 15 seconds ahead of Zubeldia and Kelderman.

But the 160km stage between Montmerle and Arbent proved to be too much, with Feillu losing 15 minutes. The race also ended in controversy, as the actual winner, Steve Morabito, was disqualified for supposedly cutting the course at a roundabout in the the final two kilometers. "I attacked to the left side, got a good gap and stayed away to the finish," Morabito said. "After the race, they told me I was supposed to go to the right around the roundabout. The road was not closed to the left and even the motorbikes were even going that way. I was feeling good today, but not now."

Instead, Maxime Bouet was declared the winner, with Van Avermaet in second and Gallopin in third place. Gallopin took over the lead with his podium finish in stage 3, ahead of Van Avermaet and Bouet. Zubeldia followed in fourth, seven seconds behind, but used the final stage to take the win.

Results final stage

1. POELS Wout VAC 3h15'39"
3. PINOT Thibaut FDJ
5. JEANDESBOZ Fabrice SAU 03"
6. TSCHOPP Johann BTL 03"
7. COPPEL Jérôme SAU 05"
10. MEDEREL Maxime AUB 38"

Final overall standings

1. ZUBELDIA AGIRRE Haimar RSH 13h44'32"
3. MONCOUTIÉ David COF 05"
5. PINOT Thibaut FDJ 10"
6. COPPEL Jérôme SAU 11"
7. JEANDESBOZ Fabrice SAU 13"
8. TSCHOPP Johann BTL 19"
10. GALLOPIN Tony COF 31"



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