Tour of Luxembourg lucks out with bad weather

Gorka Izaguirre of Euskaltel-Euskadi won the sprint of a shortened final stage of the Tour of Luxembourg, as Matteo Carrara of Vacansoleil defended his leader’s jersey to win the overall classification. Severe thunderstorms caused the race organisers to cancel two of the five laps of the closing circuit in the Luxembourg capital.

The severe weather conditions caused the race jury to nullify the stage for the overall rankings. Fränk Schleck (Saxo Bank) was thus second overall and Lance Armstrong (RadioShack) filled out the podium in third place. Armstrong had fallen about three minutes back on the closing laps to avoid any risk.

“When I took the lead on Friday, I knew our team was strong enough to defend the lead,” Carrara said. “Standing on the podium beside Fränk Schleck and Lance Armstrong is something to be proud of.”

Schleck thus lost his title from 2009 by one second. “I am 100 percent satisfied, since I can stand on the podium in front of the Luxembourg public,” he said.

103 riders took to the start in Mersch, and as in the previous stages, an early break group got away. Jonathan Catroviejo (Euskaltel), Pawel Brutt (Katusha) and Vataustas Kaupas (CT Differdange)  were soon joined by Mitchell Docker (Skil Shimano), Sebastien Turgot (Bbox) and Jorge Martin Montenegro (Andalucia- Cajasur).  However the field kept them on a short line, holding the gap at three minutes.

Four members of the group were caught as the race started the five 7.7km finishing circuits around the city of Luxembourg. It started raining, too and eventually the final two breakaway riders were caught.

Then the weather took control. Thunder, lightening, torrential rain and flooded roads transformed the race, with multiple crashes emphasising how unsafe the situation had become. The organisers quickly decided to cut the last two laps of the circuit.

Four riders escaped on the last lap: race leader Matteo Carrara, Gorka Izaguirre (Euskaltel), Yokihiro Doi (Skil-Shimano) and Serguei Ivanov (Katusha).  Izaguirre opened the sprint, just as the sun came out, and took the win ahead of Ivanonv and Houanard.

Stage

1. Gorka Izaguirre (ESP), Euskaltel-Euskadi, 135km in 3:01:23.
2. Serguei Ivanov (RUS), s.t..
3. Matteo Carrara (ITA), s.t..
4. Steve Houanard (FRA), s.t..
5. Jimmy Engoulvent (FRA), s.t..
6. Tiago Machado (POR), s.t..
7. Saïd Haddou (FRA), s.t..
8. Juan Antoni Flecha (ESP), s.t..
9. Eduard Vorganov (RUS, s.t..
10. Simon Gerrans (AUS), s.t.

Overall

1. Matteo Carrara (ITA), Vacansoleil, 14:41:58.
2. Frank Schleck (LUX), at 0:01
3. Lance Armstrong (USA), at 0:30
4. Juan Antonio Flecha (ESP, at 0:34
5. Serguei Ivanov (RUS), same time
6. Bjorn Leukemans (BEL), at 0:35
7. Alexandre Geniez (FRA), at 0:39
8. Andreas Klöden (GER, at 0:50
9. Grégory Rast (SUI) , at 0:51
10. Sandy Casar (FRA), at 0:52

Courtesy Susan Westemeyer