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Euskaltel with mixed bag in time trial

Mikel Astarloza and his team-mates can't wait for the mountains to start

Mikel Astarloza and his team-mates can't wait for the mountains to start (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Euskaltel-Euskadi's riders reacted with mixed emotions on the stage four time trial in Cholet. Samuel Sánchez finished 21st, 1'31 down on the winner, Mikel Astarloza was 27th at 1'42 and Haimar Zubeldia finished 3'42 in 100th place. Their respective gaps are the same in the overall. Sánchez was content, while Astarloza and Zubeldia weren't too pleased with their rides.

A happy Sánchez declared. "I am drawing a positive conclusion from the Tour so far. Today was a serious stage and we were in the range of times with the contenders for the overall. I am content because I am realising that I have improved my performance in comparison to the time trial at the Dauphiné. That is very important for me. For that type of course – very flat and suited to the big rouleurs – I can't complain about the way I rode. I will improve little by little. The Tour is a long race and one has to measure his strength."

Mikel Astarloza was not entirely satisfied, based on his performance in the Dauphiné. "I thought I could have done a better time than what I saw at the finish. In the Dauphiné, without being a time trial suited to me, I did well and finished fourth. In theory, today's course should have suited me better, but it didn't go quite as well as I wanted. I can't be satisfied. I had the goal of gaining time on the climbers, but my ride was rather discreet. I started with confidence and went all out, but the result is not what I desired. It is necessary to keep fighting, there are still many days left."

Zubeldia had similar thoughts. "left from the start I didn't feel well. Now all I can do is analyse the time I lost against the main rivals and think about that the Tour has barely started and it is still long [to the finish]. I know I can do better in the race. This year I especially prepared for the mountains, so I think it is where the fights will be and the Tour will be decided. I am convinced that I will be better in the final time trial. For the moment, everybody is still fresh and it was a time trial for the power riders, athletes who can push a big gear, like Cancellara, Voigt or Millar. I know it is difficult to be good in the Tour every single day ... and psychologically I was prepared to face [a bad day]. Now we are getting to the Massif Central and the Pyrenees. We'll see how I feel then."

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