Basque sensation now on GC podium
Movistar Team allrounder keeps his streak of victories alive in 2016: beats Fabian Cancellara (TFS) by 19", enters Helvetic stagerace's podium -now only 16" behind GC leader López (AST)- with one big Alpine stage remaining on Sunday
It might have seemed like the 49-second loss he suffered in the altitude of the Rettenbach glacier on Friday made the chase of GC glory in the Tour de Suisse unsurmountable for him. It even looked grimmer as Ion Izagirre clocked only the 62nd quickest time through the first intermediate check of the ITT in Davos -16.8km, with two demanding slopes and headwind for the late starters into the early part of the route-, looking like a fall in his form would derail him from overall contention.
However, the brave allrounder from the Basque Country was just keeping his key for success hidden to everyone, or maybe some of them: a 2016 Canyon Speedmax CF SLX TT bike which is not stopping offering glory to the Blues after Nairo Quintana's win yesterday at the Route du Sud; aplomb, will to suffer in those sections less suited to him; and splendid legs into the hillier parts of the route to beat TT legend Fabian Cancellara (TFS) into the last climb (-11") and reach the finish with an even bigger gap (-19"), claiming his third success of the 2016 season and the 25th for the Eusebio Unzué-managed squad, led by José Luis Jaimerena and José Luis Laguía on Swiss soil. Jonathan Castroviejo also shone, fully recovered from his injury in February, to finish in 6th place.
Overcoming Barguil (TGA), who rolled off the start ramp today as GC leader, by almost one minute, Ion Izagirre jumped into third in a very tight overall classification: López (AST) is the new leader, with Talansky (CPT) 2nd at 8"; Ion in 3rd, 16" down; and Barguil himself, now fourth, just 18" behind. Ion -3rd in Romandie, runner-up in Algarve, 4th in Valencia, 5th in Paris-Nice- will try to keep dreaming big tomorrow into a tremendous final Alpine circuit around Davos, 118km which include the HC climbs of Albula and Flüela. His season, the most brilliant in seven years as pro, deserves a triumph like that.
Ion Izagirre: "It was a really difficult day, with a demanding route where you had to keep full focus on so as to know where you had to give your full energy. We had some problems with our chain, since it was a route that demanded many pace changes and exigence for our gearing was maybe too much, but fortunately, it wasn't too serious and didn't compromise the final result. Already since we inspected the TT route in the morning we knew that those little climbs and difficult sections made it one where we could excel. The difference was to be made into the uphill sections – that's where I tried to make up my deficit from the first part.
"I gave everything I had and that win makes me tremendously happy, even more so considering how well things are going for me so far this season. For the time being, we're on the GC podium, yet the gap against Barguil in fourth place is really short, plus López and Talansky are still within reach. Sunday's closer will be short, yet surely super intense and tough. It will be huge war, and we hope to come out of it victorious."