Igor Anton (Euskaltel-Euskadi) is racing this year’s Vuelta a España with the primary goal of concentrating on the overall classification. The 29-year-old Spaniard, who has already won four stages at the Grand Tour, enters the rest day sitting in eighth overall, 3:07 down on race leader Joaquim Rodríguez (Katusha).
"It has been a very intense week," Anton said. I’ve made some mistakes, in the wind, with poor positioning and with the explosive finishes. The wear has been both physical and psychological, but I think I have the capacity to get better after the rest day. I am happy because I feel like I’m taking the pulse of the Vuelta."
Anton has endured a number of tough stages including stage 4 to Estación de Valdezcaray when the Euskaltel-Euskadi leader was nursed to the finish line by his teammates Amets Txurruka and Gorka Verdugo. The Spaniard lost a further 30 seconds to the race favourites but insists he is coming around since the race entered Andorra on stage eight.
"In Andorra I felt better, but I worked hard and remained very focused. We've come to make a good general [classification] and after the stage to Andorra, I’ve moved up a couple of spots," Anton said.
"The challenge for the general is to be regular every day and not give in. I want to see how far I get. Fortunately, I have won four stages so I can now look at the overall. That’s my challenge. My teammates have been there for me and are doing a great job. We will see if I can hold finish with a strong place in Madrid."
Anton, like most of the other classification contenders, see a group of four riders who have shown to be the strongest so far in the race.
"There are four names that are very close, very evenly matched in strength. Normally, Valverde and Froome would suffer in the final week because of riding the Tour de France. Rodríguez sometimes lacks in the final week but in the Giro this year he was strong for the entire race. Contador might not be at his best, but he’s who I see with greater chances of winning the Vuelta. He has the most experience and knows how to win after three weeks," he said.