FULL HOUSE FOR CAISSE D’EPARGNE
Caisse D’Epargne could do no wrong in racing this Wednesday as they moved back into the overall lead in the Tour of Mallorca in Spain and won the opening team time trial of the Tour of the Med in France.
Following the mountainous stage four of the Tour of Mallorca new signing Luis Leon Sanchez now leads overall for Caisse D’Epargne. Sanchez finished the stage second and in the same time as winner Toni Colom (Astana) and another Spaniard, talented young climber Alberto Contador (Discovery Channel).
After a break of 16 was reeled in 20 kilometres from the finish, the three Spaniards and Italian Vicenzo Nibali took off on the lower slopes of the second category Puig Mayor climb. They maintained their advantage of around 20 seconds at the summit and then Colom won the final dash for the line.
With just one stage left to go, the 23-year-old Leon Sanchez is now almost certain to win overall. The final stage between Magaluf and Palmanova on Thursday is just 147.6 kilometres long and has five classified climbs, but Leon Sanchez has so far proved more than capable of holding his own in the mountains.
Meanwhile in France, Caisse D’Epargne took the opening 26 kilometre time trial of the Tour of the Med. by 15 seconds over Francaise des Jeux. Third, a further two seconds down, were Russian squad Tinkoff. Former national time trial champion Ivan Guttierez was the first of his team to cross the line and therefore became the race’s first leader.
On stage two on Wednesday afternoon, a 107 kilometre run from Gruissan to Agde, Gutierrez managed to defend his lead. Numerous crashes made for complicated racing as the bunch shattered in strong winds. Finally Italian Daniele Bennati (Lampre) won a sprint from the leading break of 12, but despite puncturing within sight of the finish, Gutierrez rode strongly to stay in control overall.
“This morning we won thanks to a great ride by the whole team, and then in the second stage in the afternoon we fought hard to keep the lead in very bad weather.” Gutierrez said.
“Three of my team-mates crashed and I punctured 500 metres from the finish, but fortunately I stayed in the lead overall and tomorrow [Thursday] we’ll fight hard to make sure we keep it.”
Thursday’s stage three of the Tour of the Med. is 158 kilometres long, from St. Cannat to Marseilles.