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Analysis: A Tour de San Luis report card

  • By Neal Rogers
  • Published Jan. 27, 2014
After winning stage 1, American Phil Gaimon held the race lead until losing it in the stage 5 time trial. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Top Americans

Phil Gaimon (Garmin-Sharp): A
Gaimon won stage 1, his first day racing in a Garmin jersey, so by any measure, the Tour de San Luis was a success. That win didn’t come without controversy, though; with 20km remaining on stage 1, Gaimon momentarily followed a pair of motos off course, causing two of his breakaway companions, including UnitedHealthcare’s Marc de Maar, to crash. Gaimon and Emiliano Contreras (Argentina) did not wait around, and Gaimon took the stage win in Villa Mercedes; de Maar finished 1:17 down on the stage, a bit worse for the wear. Gaimon’s GC advantage was a comfortable 4:35 over the heavy hitters, and when he held his own on the stage 2 finish of Mirador de el Potrero, it seemed possible that he might be able to hold it throughout the week.

But Gaimon faltered on the Alto el Amago on stage 4, losing over four minutes to Quintana, narrowly holding onto his race lead by just four seconds. Gaimon put in a respectable time trial on Friday in San Luis, ceding 30 seconds to Quintana over 19km, and then rose to the occasion on the Mirador del Sol climb on stage 6, losing only 10 seconds to the stage winner, Julian Arredondo, to preserve his second overall position.

Garmin team manager Jonathan Vaughters sent out a tweet after Gaimon’s ride on Saturday, “While it was awesome that @philgaimon won a stage and held the lead, today’s result means more to me. It shows long term talent is there.”

(Race note: Marc de Maar ended the race in seventh overall, 3:44 behind Quintana, 3:01 behind Gaimon, and 1:42 behind third-place finisher Sergio Godoy of San Luis Somos Todos. Considering that the UnitedHealthcare rider lost 1:17 to Gaimon on stage 1 after the crash, and also expended unquantifiable energy due to minor injuries sustained in the crash, it’s anyone’s guess whether or not the mishap cost de Maar a spot on the final podium; the difference to Godoy was 37 seconds.)

Quote: “First off, I got lucky on the first day. Putting yourself in a position to get lucky, I’ll give myself some points for that. When you have a teammate in the break, you have to trust him to win, in the unlikely event that the break stays away, and I pulled that off. After that, I had the one good climb, and then a few not-so-good days, including stage 4, when Nairo killed everyone, that was rough. The climb on stage 6 was a good performance. That was good for me, mentally, to know that it wasn’t entirely luck that I got a result here. I’ve got something going on.”

Upcoming races: Mallorca Challenge, Three Days of West Flanders, Volta a Catalunya

Peter Stetina (BMC Racing): B+
In his first race wearing BMC colors, the former Garmin rider was consistent throughout, even after suffering from stomach issues that plagued several foreign riders. Stetina finished second on Mirador de el Potrero on stage 2, just out-sprinted at the line by stage winner Julian Arredondo (Trek Factory Racing). Stetina went on to place seventh atop Alto de Amago on stage 4 and 18th on the climb up Mirador del Sol on stage 6. He finished the race eighth overall, 3:51 down.

Quote: “I’m very happy to almost have won stage 2, especially as I came here just to find race legs and tune up for later this spring. A top 10 on GC ain’t a bad start to the season either. My power has deteriorated a lot throughout the week. I’m still suffering bowel issues, so we think I’m not absorbing all the calories and nutrients I should be. I’ll get it checked out when I get home on Tuesday.”

Upcoming races: Paris-Nice, Volta a Catalunya, Amgen Tour of California

Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing): B
Phinney came to San Luis intent on winning the stage 5 time trial. He was the overwhelming favorite, citing only Movistar’s Adriano Malori, the 2011 Italian national TT champion, as his chief competition. Phinney rode well on the stage, however he was under-geared and found himself spinning out on a long downhill-tailwind section. That proved to be the difference, as Phinney finished three seconds short of Malori, who took the stage win. Though he had been unable to shift into his 11-tooth cog — therefore maxed out at 54-12 — Phinney blamed himself for not choosing a 55- or even 56-tooth chainring.

Quote: “I definitely wanted to win the time trial…. I was sick earlier in the week, and I’m still trying to get on track. It’s funny that this is going to be one of the hardest races of the year, and it’s in January. It’s a bit of a shock to the system. My power was there in the time trial, and my pacing strategy was good. Not having those extra gears on the [downhill section] cost me a few seconds. Whether that cost me the win, we’ll never know, but it was pretty disappointing overall.”

Upcoming races: Tour of Dubai, Tour of the Mediterranean, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Paris-Nice, the cobblestone classics

Tom Danielson (Garmin-Sharp): B
Danielson came to San Luis fit and prepared to race for a stage win, and perhaps the overall. However that plan changed dramatically on the first stage, when his teammate Phil Gaimon won the stage and took a four-minute lead in the general classification. After Garmin climber Janier Acevedo abandoned the race with illness, it was up to Danielson alone to shepherd his new teammate up the summit finishes on Alto de Amago and Mirador del Sol. Danielson did his job admirably, and though Gaimon faltered on the stage 4 climb, the former race leader held on to his second-place GC finish on stage 6, hugging Danielson at the finish line and thanking him for sacrificing any shot at a stage win in order to help save Gaimon’s podium dream.

Quote: “It was a really magical experience to be there with Phil, especially on Mirador del Sol (on stage 6). He did what I knew he could do, and that’s a life-changing experience, to truly be at the front of the race and be climbing with guys like Quintana. I rewind to December of 2012, climbing up Mt. Lemmon [in Tucson, Arizona] with Phil , in training, and saying, ‘Dude, if you can do this in the Tour of California this year, you will finish on the podium,’ and he was like, ‘No, I don’t think so.’ Fast-forward to Saturday on the climb, with 1km to go, I said to him, ‘Remember what I told you last December? This is what you can do.’ I felt awesome yesterday, and I told him, ‘I could win the stage today, but this one of the experiences that is why I am in cycling. I’m going to finish next to you, just like we did on Mt. Lemmon all last year.’ It was really cool and rewarding, I was able to bring him back one more time, with 200 meters to go. It was a really awesome experience for me.”

Upcoming races: Volta a Catalunya, Pais Vasco, Amgen Tour of California

Lucas Euser (UnitedHealthcare): B
A fifth-place finish on the hardest climb of the race, Alto de Amago, was a breakthrough ride for the American climber; he placed 1:45 behind Quintana on the stage. Euser finished the race 13th overall, 6:09 behind Quintana.

Quote: “The Tour of San Luis is a great way to start the season. I entered the race more focused and with confidence, and it played out well. It wasn’t fun watching riders at the end of stage 4 hang on to cars to improve their rankings. As many on Twitter said, cheating is cheating. What’s great is being part of a team that demands ethical and fair sport. I can’t wait to see how the year unfolds.”

Upcoming races: Tour of Oman, Classic Sud Ardèche, La Drôme Classic, GP Città di Camaiore, Roma Maxima, Strade Bianche, Milano-Sanremo.

Larry Warbasse (BMC Racing): B
The 23-year-old former University of Michigan student finished just off the podium on the stage 5 time trial in fourth place, 48 seconds behind stage winner Adriano Malori. The following day, Warbasse made it into the stage 6 breakaway, which was caught at the base of the day’s final climb. He finished the race in 37th place.

Quote: “I would have to say I’m happy to have had a good time trial, as the first four days were rough in the brutal heat. I wasn’t adapted enough to handle the high temperatures in January, which came as a bit of a surprise to me, and a shock to my body. I would have liked to have a solid GC result, but I’m content to not leave entirely empty-handed. Riding here has gotten me excited about the rest of the season.”

Upcoming races: Tour of the Mediterranean, Classic Sud Ardèche, La Drôme Classic, Strade Bianche, Roma Maxima, Volta a Catalunya

Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp): C+
Farrar finished fourth on the stage 3 finish, and was hit by a team car in the caravan on stage 6. He came through 21st on the uphill sprint finish on stage 7.

Quote: “My goal coming here was to win a stage. I saw three opportunities. The first stage ended up not being a sprint. The [third] stage I ran fourth, which wasn’t a win, but I felt good. And [after being hit by a car], I don’t feel totally awesome. But as far as fitness goes, I definitely feel where I’m right where I wanted to be. I feel like I am sprinting well, and as strong as I wanted to be in January.”

Upcoming races: Tour of Dubai, the cobblestone classics, Giro d’Italia

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Neal Rogers

Neal Rogers

Neal Rogers is editor in chief of Velo magazine and VeloNews.com. An interest in all things rock 'n' roll led him into music journalism while attending UC Santa Cruz, on the central coast of California. After several post-grad years spent waiting tables, surfing, and mountain biking, he moved to San Francisco, working as a bike messenger, and at a software startup. He moved to Boulder, Colorado, in 2001, taking an editorial internship at VeloNews. He never left. When not traveling the world covering races, he can be found riding his bike, skiing, or attending a concert.

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