Sunday, March 15, 2015

Istrian Spring Trophy: Eibegger gets redemption

Motovun (Photo: Wiki)
In 2009, Markus Eibegger was riding with the Pro Continental team Elk Haus and was beginning a nice little career for himself but had eyes to ride on a larger stage. Five years ago to the day, Eibegger won the stage to Motovun in the Istrian Spring Trophy ahead of riders in the top 10 including Robert Vrecer (doper), Michel Kreder, Radoslav Rogina, Tejay van Garderen and Lars Petter Nordhaug.

Since a one year stint with Footon-Servetto in the World Tour, Eibegger has bounced around the continental circuit in what is now the 5th year in a row. He won the Tour de Taiwan in 2011 with Tabriz Petrochemical, the Motovun stage and the Istrian Spring Trophy overall in 2012 with Gourmetfein along with stages in the Sibiu Tour (Romania), the An Post Ras, the Oberösterreich Rundfahrt and the Tour de Bretagne. At 30 years old, that is a fairly good career but obviously it seems like he could have done so much more. It isn't every cyclist's dream to toil around the continental circuit for a decade and a half before calling it quits. There is still time though.

Motovun city gate
The hilltown of Motovun dates back to the medieval period with graves dating back to the Roman era. Motovun began to be built up during the Renaissance period including the famed city gate, which the stage finish always goes through.

Fun fact about the town of Motovun is that it is the town of Veli Joze, the gentle giant of Istria. Veli Joze, or Big Joe, is a folk story written by Croatian nationalist Vladimir Nazor in response to the predominant German and Italian political community. Another fact about the town is that it is the birthplace to racing brothers Mario and Aldo Andretti. At the time of their birth, Istria was a part of Italy and Motovun was known as Montona d'Istria. The Andretti's left in 1948 during the Istrian exodus for a refugee camp in Lucca, Italy before leaving to the USA in 1955. Thanks to Wikipedia for that paragraph.

The race itself saw João Gaspar (Ecuador) go out front with  a breakaway to take the KOM jersey but that is besides the point. The race itself came down to the uphil finish at Motovun, which features a 3 kilometer climb that reaches grades of 11% just before the town gate. To go along with his wins in 2009 and 2012, Eibegger pulled away from Silvio Herklotz and Sergey Nikolaev to take a solo win and get a grip on the overall lead. It looks like Eibegger is going to win the Istrian Spring Trophy for the 2nd time and outside of this small realm of people that care about this race, it doesn't mean shit.

On the U23 side of things, Herklotz looks to be coming into some prime form for spring and will most likely finish 3rd overall. Michael Gogl (Felbermayr) and Sam Oomen (Rabobank) are finishing off strong weeks to stay in the top 10 overall while Martijn Tusveld (Rabobank) rocketed from 26th to 11th overall.

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