Volta ao Algarve / St. 3 (+ Vuelta a Andalucía)
Izagirre takes 4th, Oliveira 5th in Movistar Team time trial debut, Castroviejo 6th and Dowsett 9th as Blues remark excellence in the speciality during Algarve day three. Ion now 20" behind Martin, 17" after Thomas before Sunday's Malhao showdown
Four riders from the Movistar Team put themselves into the top ten of a trascendental ITT in the Volta ao Algarve, 18km in Sagres over dusty, technical roads in the early part before long straights around the Cabo Sao Vicente let all riders reach their maximum speed. The squad directed by José Luis Jaimerena fulfilled their goal of putting Ion Izagirre in good position overall: the Ormaiztegi-born rider limited losses with his two main rivals -Thomas (SKY) and Martin (EQS)- into the first half of the parcours and stormed his way through the final straights, ultimately taking 4th, 37" behind Cancellara (TFS).
Before Ion Izagirre, the three national TT champions from the Movistar Team had rolled off the start ramp. Alex Dowsett, who set the early benchmark, finished in 7th spot (+40"), while Jonathan Castroviejo -still lacking some power after his crash on yesterday's final descent- and Nelson Oliveira imitated each other to take places six and five, with the exact same time of 21'34" -Thomas in 21'25", Martin in 21'02" at 5" behind Cancellara- that Izagirre would cross the line with later on.
The overall classification, which should remain stable tomorrow after a predictable sprint finish in Tavira, will be decided at Sunday's Alto do Malhao mountain-top finish, where Ion will try to make up his 17" deficit to Thomas and 20" to Martín in the demanding slopes near Loulé.
Ruta del Sol: Mechanical leaves Lobato empty-handed; Valverde 8th before ITT
Bad luck hit Juanjo Lobato for the third day on a row as a mechanical failure into the opening slopes of the Puerto del Valle (Cat-2), the decisive point of stage three in the Vuelta a Andalucía -158km between Monachil and Padul-, avoided the Andalusian testing his speed into a sprint quite more reduced than in previous occassions, partly due to exceptional teamwork by Erviti and Sutherland. Oscar Gatto (TNK) prevailed into a 50-strong bunch, with new race leader Ben Swift (SKY) in second place.
Alejandro Valverde and Rubén Fernández were 11th and 13th over the line after a demanding day, yet with no significant changes for the GC contenders, before Saturday's crucial 21km time trial in Alhaurín de la Torre. The route offers no rest for the specialists already from the opening phase, with a tough finish across the Camino del Comendador on gradients reaching 15%. Javi and Dani Moreno also keep the same time from the leader.