Two in a row for Oscar Freire as Markel Irizar wraps up the Ruta del Sol
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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Two in a row for Oscar Freire as Markel Irizar wraps up the Ruta del Sol

by Ben Atkins at 11:00 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results
Second consecutive stage for Oscarito; strong prologue time trial proves enough for Shack rider’s overall victory

oscar freireOscar Freire (Rabobank) took his second consecutive victory in the fifth and final stage of the Vuelta a Andalucia/Ruta Del Sol between Almuñecar and Adra. The three-time World champion won the sprint at the head of a much reduced peloton ahead of Olympic champion Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and stage two winner Jonathan Hivert (Saur-Sojasun) at the end of the predominantly flat 162km stage.

There were a number of attempts to escape the peloton in the opening kilometres, most notably from Rubén Pérez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Javier Ramírez and Antonio Cabello (Andalucía-Caja Granada) and Héctor González (KTM-Murcia) after 8km. None was successful though, until a group of four other riders broke clear after 30km.

The group consisted of Cyril Bessy (Saur Sojasun), Vicente Bernabeu (Andalucía- Caja Granada), Xabier Zabalo (Orbea) and Jan Barta (NetApp). With Bernabeu sitting just 29 seconds behind race leader Markel Irizar (RadioShack) though, the American team kept the quartet on a short leash, never allowing its advantage to grow too high.

With the four riders’ lead never growing beyond 3 minutes, it stood at 2’20” with 25km to go; by which point RadioShack, along with Rabobank, Team Sky and Saur-Sojasun began to increase the pace and pull them back.

With 15km to go the lead had been reduced to 1’30”, and was down to a minute by the 10km point; the four riders were finally caught just 3km from the finish.

The high speed of the peloton on the steep, 20% rise up to the finishing straight thinned it out to just 33 riders; Rabobank teammate led Freire into the finish and, while he seemed to have hit the front too early, most of the other sprinters had been dropped and the three-time World champion held on to win on the second day in succession.

With all of the race’s top riders finishing in the front group the overall classification remained unchanged; Irizar held on to take the race, 1 second ahead of Jurgen Van Den Broeck (OmegaPharma-Lotto) and 2 ahead of his own teammate Levi Leipheimer.

“This is unbelievable,” said an emotional Irizar after the finish. “I am so happy with this victory, but even more with the way my teammates worked for me. Jani Brajkovic, Levi Leipheimer, Robbie Hunter, Haimar Zubeldia, Dmitriy Muravyev and Ivan Rovny, they all worked for me four long days. It is a huge pleasure to be part of this team. It is hard to describe the feelings that I have now.”

Result stage 5
1. Oscar Freire (Spa) Rabobank
2. Samuel Sanchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
3. Jonathan Hivert (Fra) Saur-Sojasun
4. Davide Appollonio (Ita) Team Sky
5. Rigoberto Uran (Col) Team Sky
6. Marco Marcato (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM
7. Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) OmegaPharma-Lotto
8. Luis Pasamontes (Spa) Movistar
9. Jérôme Coppel (Fra) Saur-Sojasun
10. Juan Jose Lobato (Spa) Andalucia-Caja Granada

Final overall standings
1. Markel Irizar (Spa) RadioShack
2. Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) OmegaPharma-Lotto @ 1s
3. Levi Leipheimer (USA) RadioShack @ 2s
4. Jérôme Coppel (Fra) Saur-Sojasun @ 3s
5. Luis Pasamontes (Spa) Movistar @ 8s


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