Euskaltel enjoyed a somewhat strange day today in the Fleche Wallonne. On the positive side, Gorka Verdugo had an excellent day in the spotlight when looking strong in the break, while Mikel Astarloza also impressed. Though, Euskaltel`s hope for the win, Samu Sánchez, failed to live up to the high standards he`s set himself, coming home 27th. But, he was only 42 seconds adrift of winner Rebellin, so he shouldn`t be ruled out of contention for Liège-Bastogne-Liège this coming Sunday just yet.
Gorka was one of 4 riders that made the break of the day, going after roughly 40 km. The quartet had a lead of almost 7 minutes at one stage, but from then on, the advantage decreased steadily. The peloton, led by Gerolsteiner and Caisse d`Epargne, had it all under control. Though, Gorka tried desperately to keep the peloton at distance, breaking away with fellow breakaway-companion Bichot. Gorka looked impressingly strong, and when Bichot finally had to throw in the towel, he went solo. Gorka got something like a minute on the peloton, but with roughly 40 km remaining, the pack caught him. Nevertheless, Gorka was brilliant today, and showed what a quality rider he is. When the peloton hit the reknown and race-deciding Mur de Huy, Samu was seen close to the front, but as the climb got steeper and steeper, Samu drifted backwards. Eventually he finished 27th, while Mikel got a 47th place to show for his efforts. Here`s how the Euskaltel riders placed:
- 27th, Samu Sánchez, 0:42
- 47th, Mikel Astarloza, 1:07
- 88th, Jon Bru, 6:15
- 118th, Gorka Verdugo, 11:18
Rubén Pérez, Iñigo Landaluze, Unai Etxebarria and Aitor Galdos all abandoned.