Perdi's golden season continues

iguel Angel Martin Perdiguero is in the winning habit at Saunier Duval and believes there is still

iguel Angel Martin Perdiguero is in the winning habit at Saunier Duval and believes there is still
PICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE Such are Spain's riches in one-day events at the moment that San Sebastian Classic winner Miguel Angel Martin Perdiguero is only first reserve for their Olympic team. Saturday's first-ever World Cup victory for the Saunier Duval rider was his eighth of the season and was the second time in just three months that the 31 year old has taken a career-best win. Back in June, Martin Perdiguero, widely known as 'Perdi' in his homeland, took three stage wins on the way to overall victory in the Tour of Catalonia, which at that time he classed as his best win since the GP Miguel Indurain in 2000. After that Indurain win, the Spanish rider had spent much of his time as part of Mario Cipollini's 'train' at Acqua e Sapone and then Domina Vacanze, before joining the new Saunier Duval team this season. Team boss Joxean Fernandez Matxin was sure that Perdi had much more to give, based on some good performances in the mountains at last year's Vuelta after Cipollini had abandoned the race in the first week. The former Kelme, ONCE and Vitalicio Seguros rider was brought into the Saunier team by Matxin to provide some experience and winning potential alongside former Banesto rider Leonardo Piepoli. Initially the season went well, but more than a dozen second place finishes suggested something was lacking. Victory in the final stage of the Tour of Asturias in May seems to have provided that missing something - confidence. There have been comparisons with Laurent Jalabert, another rider who began his career as a sprinter but by the end of his career was better known for his talents in the hills that were allied to an explosive sprint that could usually see off anyone in a small group. Perdiguero has played down the comparison, pointing out that Jalabert began to change his style at the age of 23 or 24, whereas the flamboyant Spaniard will be 32 in October. After victory in San Sebastian at the weekend, the Madrid-born rider was asked to describe his style of riding. "I don't know how to really," he replied. "All I know is that when I am good I am very, very good, and when I am bad I am dreadful." He did admit, however, that his form in San Sebastian was not his best. After missing out on selection for Athens this coming weekend, he is saving that for the Vuelta, where he should have an interesting battle against Spain's other big winner this season, Alejandro Valverde. "Victory in San Sebastian is the best thing that has happened to me in my sporting career," he said on Saturday. It's always difficult to win a classic and to win what is the only one that takes place in Spain is incredible. I would never have imagined it. "My only tactic once I was in the winning break was to stick to Bettini's wheel. He was the man to follow. Consequently, I didn't worry about the rest and watched him right to the finish. Until we were on my territory. I was lucky that Rebellin and Bettini were looking at each other and had forgotten about me, and as they watched each other I attacked on the right. It was perhaps a bit far out but it all worked out OK. Another metre and Bettini would have caught me, but that is cycling for you." After so many near misses, Perdi is getting his timing just right, and we could yet see an even better rider at the Vuelta next month. * Saunier's great weekend was rounded off perfectly when Leonardo Piepoli won the Urkiola hill-climb event in the heart of the Basque Country for a record fourth time on Sunday. Francesco Casagrande (Lampre) was second and Carlos Garcia Quesada (CV-Kelme) third.
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