Andreas Klöden (RadioShack) returned to the winner’s circle Saturday in the six-day Tour of the Basque Country more than a decade after his 2000 win after besting the GC contenders in the hilly race against the clock to close out the race.
Defending champion Chris Horner (RadioShack) didn’t have the legs to challenge his teammate in the 24km TT, stopping the clock at 55 seconds slower for ninth on the stage and settled into second place overall at 47 seconds back in another excellent outing for RadioShack. Robert Gesink (Rabobank) revealed some impressive TT legs to round out the final podium with third overall.
While Klöden’s victory was loud and clear, the difference between Horner and Gesink could not have been smaller. Horner claimed the second spot by 0.176 seconds. And that was after Gesink rode his bike off-course with 6km to go when he apparently overcooked a corner.
Tony Martin (HTC-Highroad) out-dueled his elder compatriot in a battle of the Germans to win the stage. Klöden stopped the clock just five seconds adrift to secure the overall title and earn his second txapela of his career. Marco Pinotti (HTC-Highroad) was third in the stage at 24 seconds off the pace while Tejay Van Garderen was 14th at 1:19 slower to give HTC-Highroad three in the top-15 on the stage.
“The goal of the week here was to win today, and that’s what I’ve acheived. I had a bit of a break after Paris-Nice and when I started this race I knew that I wasn’t going to be at 100 percent straight away. But I’ve ended the race in great condition, and this win is the confirmation,” Martin said in a team report. “It was a very easy course to miscalculate your strength because it was so technical and there was a lot of climbing.
“I had problems on one bend on a descent, I braked too hard, but apart from that it went pretty well,” he noted. “The key was making sure you didn’t go too hard in the first part and I had enough strength to finish at 100 percent.”
Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Cervélo) posted yet another impressive TT, stopping the clock at 42 seconds slower for fifth on the stage.
Overnight leader Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) proves he still needs to do a lot of work in the TT if ever hopes to win a major tour and tumbled out of the top-10 to 11th at 1:59 back.
The stage started with Rodriguez, Klöden and Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) all tied, with Horner at one second back and Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Cervélo) leading another group at six seconds back. Sanchez had expected to do better, but slid backwards off the podium to finish sixth overall at 1:08.
Hesjedal settled into ninth at 1:49 back while Benat Inxausti and Xavi Tondo gave Movistar two in the top-5, settling into fourth and fifth, respectively, at 1:03 back on GC.
Stage 6 (ITT): El Corrillo – El Corrillo
- 1. Tony MARTIN (GER), HTC-Highroad , 32:16
- 2. Andreas KLÖDEN (GER), Team RadioShack, at 0:09
- 3. Marco PINOTTI (ITA), HTC-Highroad, at 0:24
- 4. Jakob FUGLSANG (DEN), Leopard-Trek, at 0:29
- 5. Andrew TALANSKY (USA), Garmin-Cervelo, at 0:42
- 6. Maxime MONFORT (BEL), Leopard-Trek, at 0:48
- 7. Robert GESINK (NED), Rabobank Cycling Team, at 0:50
- 8. Richie PORTE (AUS), SaxoBank-Sungard, at 0:53
- 9. Christopher HORNER (USA), Team RadioShack, at 0:55
- 10. Vasili KIRYIENKA (BLR), Movistar, at 1:00
Final Overall Standings
- 1. Andreas KLÖDEN (Germany), Team RadioShack , at
- 2. Christopher HORNER (United States), Team RadioShack, at 0:47
- 3. Robert GESINK (Netherlands), Rabobank Cycling Team, at 0:47
- 4. Benat INTXAUSTI ELORRIAGA (Spain), Movistar, at 1:03
- 5. Xavier TONDO VOLPINI (Spain), Movistar, at 1:03
- 6. Samuel SANCHEZ GONZALEZ (Spain), Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 1:08
- 7. David LOPEZ GARCIA (Spain), Movistar, at 1:28
- 8. Alexandre VINOKOUROV (Kazakhstan), Astana, at 1:31
- 9. Ryder HESJEDAL (Canada), Garmin-Cervelo, at 1:49
- 10. Vasili KIRYIENKA (Belarus), Movistar, at 1:54