Movistar's Xavier Tondo extends overall lead at Tour de San Luis
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Friday, January 21, 2011

Movistar's Xavier Tondo extends overall lead at Tour de San Luis

by Jered Gruber at 9:38 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results
Tondo and Movistar on track for their first overall victory of 2011

Xavier TondoMovistar's Xavier Tondo crossed the final major hurdle en route to taking what should be both his first stage race victory of 2011, but also his new team's first ever stage race victory.

The 32 year old climber started the day with a tenuous thirty second lead over Androni-Giocattoli's Jose Serpa and thirty-four seconds over Argentina's Jorge Giacinti, following arguably the time trial of his life for Tondo.

Following Thursday's critical time trial, three stages remained: one mountaintop finish, one mountain stage, and one race ending jaunt for the sprinters.

Friday's mountaintop finish on the Mirador del Sol was set to be the final real chance at either defending his overall hopes or losing them.

At the end of a hard fought, aggressive stage, Tondo had not only defended his lead, but increased it.

"The day was difficult, because there was a breakaway of many riders, and we could not let them get too large of a gap," said Movistar's Grand Tour hope for 2011 following the race to Es Ciclismo. "They worked exceptionally well and managed to get us close at the base of the final climb. After that, it was only a matter of responding with my legs."

And respond he did - Tondo was pristine in the leader's orange jersey, and so was his oft-injured Colombian teammate, Mauricio Soler. The Catalonian leader of the Tour de San Luis had nothing but praise for the former Tour de France King of the Mountains, Soler.

"In the end, Soler did an excellent job and capped off the work of our other teammates."

If the Tour de San Luis is any indication, 2011 could be the year that Soler finally sees a return to the form that made him one of the sport's best climbers in 2007. 

Tondo finished a solid seventh place on the day, behind only the remnants of the break - six of whom managed to hold off the onslaught from behind. Argentina's Leandro Messineo took the day in fine solo fashion, twenty-two seconds ahead of Liquigas-Cannondale's Cristiano Salerno.

VeloNation blogger, Alexander Wetterhall, rolled in for 4th, while Chile's Marco Arriagada was the only rider able to make a significant jump forward on the general classification. His 5th place finish, 22 seconds ahead of Tondo, vaulted him to third place overall, 37 seconds behind the Spaniard.

With one tough mountainous stage remaining including the first category climb of the Cerra del Amaro with 15 kilometers to go, Tondo has 34 seconds on Jose Serpa, 37 seconds on Marco Arriagada, and 1:28 on Eros Capecchi.



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