Route du Sud (st. 2) / Suisse (st. 8)
Herrada struggles in Val Louron, concedes Route du Sud leadership to Roche (TCS) as Valverde takes 3rd; Izagirre pays for heat, strong pace en route to Verbier, exits from Suisse top-ten as Capecchi snatches 4th spot
Picture (c): Maxime Lafage – La Route du Sud
The good flashes offered in the last few days by two of the biggest prospects from the Movistar Team, Jesús Herrada and Ion Izagirre, were unfortunately not confirmed today in neither the Route du Sud nor the Tour de Suisse. Herrada tackled the Queen stage in the Pyrenees -178km over the imposing Tourmalet, Aspin and Val Louron (Cat-1)- with the aim of keeping the orange leader jersey conquered with his brilliant victory on Friday.
However, and despite the magnificent job by the telephone squad all over the course, controlling an eight-man breakaway which later saw Alexis Vuillermoz (ALM), 11th overall in the Giro, going solo, the Spanish champion did not find his best legs; combined with the vertical drop on today’s parcours, the Spaniard was forced to let the main group go. Alejandro Valverde finished 45″ behind Irishman Nicolas Roche (TCS), into a quartet with Rogers (TCS), Elissonde (FDJ) and Kudus (MTN) where he claimed 3rd and kept his podium place overall into a race set to finish tomorrow with a flat 179km route to Castres.
Izagirre 2’30” down in Verbier; Capecchi now 9th GC in Switzerland
Even more contrast had Movistar Team’s performance in the penultimate stage of the Helvetic stagerace, 219km full of long plains before the double finishing climb towards the ski resort of Verbier (HC). The huge pace all day -riders came across the finish almost thirty minutes ahead of schedule- and strong heat both hit Ion Izagirre, who lost the wheel of the main favourites with around five kilometers from the end, after his team-mate José Joaquín Rojas fought for almost the whole day into the breakaway -even becoming the virtual race leader-.
Eros Capecchi kept the Blues up-front with Izagirre absent: despite struggling to keep the pace for most of the ascent, with attacks from eventual stage winner Esteban Chaves (OGE) and other GC guns hurting the Italian, he was able to bounce back in style to reach the arrivée in an excellent 4th place, giving time to yellow jersey Tony Martin’s (OPQ) group. Sunday will mark the final day of racing for the last WorldTour event before next week’s national championships in Europe, with no less than four climbs in 156km: Veysonnaz (Cat-1), St. Martin (Cat-2), Eischoll (Cat-1) and Saas-Fee (HC), the second mountain-top finish in a row.