Sanchez crowned in Spain
Spaniard successful in front of Basque crowd
Last Updated: April 7, 2012 4:40pm
Samuel Sanchez: Put in a superb time trial display to clinch overall victory
Samuel Sanchez powered through the rain to win the final time trial and clinch overall victory at the Vuelta al Pais Vasco.
In soaking wet conditions the Spaniard pushed hard on treacherous roads around Onati to clock a time of 28 minutes and 48 seconds on the 18.9-kilometre course.
Setting a time six seconds quicker than anyone else, Sanchez held off a gutsy effort from compatriot and overnight leader Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) to take the yellow jersey by 12 seconds.
After setting a blistering early pace Bauke Mollema (Rabobank) had to settle for second on the stage but propelled himself up to third overall in the standings, 42 seconds adrift after six stages.
Another rider to benefit on a day which didn’t suit the time trial specialists was Damiano Cunego (Lampre-ISD) who leapfrogged up to fourth, while time trial world champion Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) rounded out the top five overall.
A stiff technical challenge for the riders, the final stage was not a run of the mill time trial as the race went down to the wire.
Far from a chance for the powerful riders to stretch their legs, an undulating parcours on narrow roads featured a number of technical wet descents, as well as a cobbled climb just out of the start ramp.
First man into the stage was Travis Meyer (GreenEDGE), the Australian setting a good benchmark time of 29:12, only for it to be beaten shortly after by Dutchman Stef Clement (Rabobank) to the tune of two seconds.
As had been the case during the two previous days, the rain had made a return forcing some of the best time trial specialists in the world to corner at almost a standstill. That failed to stop Mollema, who raised a few eyebrows as he went through the first split quickest by six seconds.
Behind, the battle for the GC brought the best out of Sanchez and Rodriguez who produced a thrilling fight for the win in the Basque Country.