Igor Anton Climbs to Vuelta a Espana Stage Victory in Basque Country

News & Results

09/9/2011| 0 comments
by Reuters and Roadcycling.com
Igor Anton climbs in stage 19 of the Vuelta a Espana. Photo Fotoreporter Sirotti.
Igor Anton climbs in stage 19 of the Vuelta a Espana. Photo Fotoreporter Sirotti.

Igor Anton Climbs to Vuelta a Espana Stage Victory in Basque Country

Home rider Igor Anton secured a dream victory for Team Euskaltel-Euskadi earlier today when the 2011 Vuelta a Espana went through the team's Basque Country home region for the first time in 33 years.

Home rider Igor Anton secured a dream victory for Team Euskaltel-Euskadi earlier today when the 2011 Vuelta a Espana went through the team's Basque Country home region for the first time in 33 years.

Race leader Juan Jose Cobo of Spain and Team Geox also had to respond to a double attack by second-placed Briton Chris Froome on the Vivero climb.

With two days remaining Cobo leads by 13 seconds. Froome's Sky team mate Bradley Wiggins of Great Britain is third at one minute 41 seconds.

Cheered on by thousands of Basque fans welcoming the race back after a long absence, Anton powered away on his regular training climb on the Vivero for a solo victory in the centre of Bilbao.

Second behind the climbing specialist on the hilly 158.5-km 19th stage was Italian Marzio Bruseghin, 41 seconds back. German Dominik Nerz finished third at one minute 30 seconds.

A winner on the prestigious Zoncolan climb in the Giro d'Italia in May, Anton told reporters near the finish line in Bilbao "This victory today is so important I could retire right now.

"In a sense it didn't matter if I won, just being able to break away ahead of the pack was amazing, to be able to race through the Basque Country after a 33-year absence was something very special."

"I had a lot of physical problems at the start of the race. I did not recover well after a hard Giro. I was sunk mentally and physically but I slowly got better and winning today has made it all worthwhile," added Anton who is down in 33rd place overall.

Cobo said he was wary of the twin Sky threat from Froome and Wiggins in the last two stages. "Today was a big step forward but it's not over yet," Cobo explained and added "I'm sure Sky will keep attacking.

Reaching the team Sky bus after the stage Froome commented "I've got nothing to lose and all to gain so I went for it. Thirteen seconds is such a small margin it would be crazy to give the race to him."

Froome's sports director Steven de Jongh told Roadcycling.com and our mobile sister site Roadcycling.mobi "It went pretty well in terms of the way we applied ourselves but unfortunately Cobo was just too strong."

"We tried to put Cobo under pressure right from the start and Thomas Löfkvist was unbelievable today. He did some really good work for the team during that second half of the race and then Bradley then took up the mantle for Froomey on that final climb.

"Froomey did everything he could to try and shake Cobo but he just stuck to his wheel. When Mollema went soon after that, Bradley was strong enough to keep up with him, which was good to see and he was able to defend his third-placed position," de Jongh added.

The 2011 Vuelta a Espana will conclude on September 11 in Madrid.

Watch Vuelta a Espana video highlights from all stages of the Vuelta a Espana 2011 in our video section .

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