Vuelta al País Vasco (st. 4)
The young Spaniard takes the relay from team-mate José Herrada to Arrate on Wednesday, escapes under rain and cold weather en route to Ibardin after mechanical in race’s beginning
The second consecutive mountain-top finish in the 2012 Vuelta al País Vasco, the finish atop the Alto de Ibardin in Bera de Bidasoa after 151 kilometers and four other categorized climbs starting at Eibar, witnessed the solo victory by Joaquim Rodríguez (KAT) after a hellish stage, with heavy rain in the beginning of the race and persistent cold weather which could not still stop Ángel Madrazo from keeping trying, the Spaniard in excellent form after his 3rd place in the GP Miguel Indurain last Saturday. Madrazo suffered a flat tire in the first kilometers of the stage, but could regain contact with the main peloton and jump, in the 59th kilometer of racing, along with four other riders.
The quintet, always with less than two minutes of advantage, tackled the climbs of Aritxulegi and Agiña on front before being reached by a first counter-attack from GreenEdge duo Bernard Sulzberger and Christian Meier, and later, by Sörensen (SAX) and Albasini (GEC), dropping just before the last uphill to Ibardin after his great effort. At the summit, Rui Costa and Vasil Kiryienka were again the best Blue riders, a half minute behind the winner of the day, in the day prior to the arrival to Oñati, the scene for the decisive time trial on Saturday and the place where the peloton will rest after stage five: 183 kilometers with five climbs and the Alto de Asentzio (Cat. 2) just 24k from the end.
QUOTES / Ángel Madrazo: “I had much bad luck yesterday with a puncture in the Alto de Ixua, which cost me a lot of energy and made me lose my GC chances, so I had to launch an attack from early into the stage. When I had a flat tire today, I was thinking ‘please don’t get this race out of my hands, I have to make the breakaway.’ At a small climb we made the first selection of five, and after that I was praying for rain to stay falling, so we could at least keep the gap in the downhill sections, but we couldn’t make it because Euskaltel and Katusha pushed hard all race and did not allow us gaining much terrain. There’s no doubt for tomorrow: I’ll try and enter the break again to contest the stage.”