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Having gone clear with Torres, Belda and Bravo on the final climb, Anton managed to drop his rivals before descending to the finish in the first stage of the Vuelta a Asturias to claim the stage victory and overall lead

Photo: Unipublic / Graham Watson

AMETS TXURRUKA

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JESUS HERRADA

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MOVISTAR TEAM

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VUELTA ASTURIAS

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02.05.2015 @ 19:09 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Igor Anton broke his long drought and took his first win in Movistar colours when he emerged as the strongest in the mountainous first stage of the Vuelta a Asturias. The Basque distanced his rivals after the final climb and held on to his advantage on the descent to win the stage with a 14-second advantage over Amets Txurruka (Caja Rural) and a 29-second advantage over his teammate Jesus Herrada.

 

A few years ago, Igor Anton was regarded as a huge grand tour talent and many even believed that he would have won the 2010 Vuelta a Espana if he hadn’t crashed while wearing the leader’s jersey. In recent years, however, his progress has stalled and when Euskaltel folded, he was even on the verge of retirement as no one wanted to sign him.

 

Anton was thrown a lifeline by the Movistar team but his first year with the biggest Spanish team didn’t pan out in the way he wanted. In fact he ended the season with no major achievements and he admitted that he had to improve his level in his second year if he wanted to remain in the professional peloton.

 

Anton recently seemed to be back to his best when he finished on the podium in the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon and so he was one of the pre-race favourites at the start of the two-day Vuelta a Asturias. Today he confirmed his improvement by winning the mountainous first stage after a great solo performance.

 

In the finale, the riders had to climb the Alto de la Cobertoria twice and it was during the second ascent that the damage was done. At the bottom, Miguel Angel Rubiano (Colombia) led a small group of favourites by just 10 seconds and he managed to keep a 22-rider lead group that was led by Movistar, at bay for a while.

 

However, he finally had to surrender and he found himself in a 15-rider group when he was caught. The group was gradually whittled a bit further down until only Anton, Jesus Herrada, Ametx Txurruka, Javier Moreno (Movistar), Marcos Garcia (Louletano), Garikoitz Bravo (Murias Taldea), David Belda (Burgos), Evgeny Shalunov (Lokosphinx), Alberto Gallego (Radio Popular), and the Colombia trip of Rodolfo Torres, Brayan Ramires and Miguel Rubiano were left.

 

Belda, Anton, Torres and Bravo managed to escape before the summit and later Belda took off on his own. Anton bridged the gap while Txurruka joined Torres and Bravo.

 

Anton distanced Belda on the descent and from there he went into time trialling mode. No one managed to catch the strong Basque who held on to win the stage with a 14-second advantage over Txurruka. Further back, a reshuffling had taken place and it was Jesus Herrada who made it a great day for Movistar by taking third, 7 seconds ahead of a 5-rider group that included Bravo and Belda while Torres had fallen even further behind.

 

With the win, Anton takes the first leader’s jersey and he goes into the final stage with a 14-second advantage over Txurruka. However, the race is far from over as the final day includes three big climbs, including a category 2 ascent that summits just 7.3km from the finish. From there it is a fast descent to the finish in Oviedo.

 

A hilly course

The 58th Vuelta a Asturias kicked off with a hilly 149.5km stage from Oviedo to Pola de Lena. After a lumpy first part, the riders with two category 2 and one category 3 climb, the riders got to the difficult finale where they would twice climb the category 1 Alto de la Cobertoria from two different sides. The final summit was located just 16.4km from the finish and from there it was downhill almost all the way to the line.

 

The riders had cloudy but pleasant conditions when they gathered in Oviedo for the start of the short two-day race and they got it off to a very fast start. The first phase was marked by several attacks but after 10km of racing, no one had managed to get clear.

 

The break is formed

Movistar were in complete control as they started to climb the category 2 Alto del Cordal but here they allowed a small group to get clear. At the 19km mark, Jesus Del Pino (Burgos) and Antonio Carvalho (W52) had an advantage of 10 seconds and they were joined by Antonio Molina (Caja Rural) to form a strong trio.

 

At the 21km mark, they had a gap of 50 seconds and as Molina led them over the top of the climb, they were 1.25 ahead. The Caja Rural rider was again first at the top of the Alto de Carabanzo at the 38km mark at a point when the gap was 2.35.

 

The break splits up

The gap reached 3.00 before the peloton accelerated. At the 55km mark, the advantage was only 1.50 but the peloton again slowed down.

 

On the Alto de la Cabana, Carvalho was dropped from the break and when Molina crested the summit as the first rider, he had been distanced by 1 minute. At this point, the peloton was still 1.50 behind.

 

The break is caught

Carvalho was brought back while the two attackers managed to extend their advantage to 2 minutes 10km from the bottom of the Cobertoria. However, Movistar accelerated and when they passed the intermediate sprint at the finish, the gap was down to 1.10, with Javier Moreno moving ahead to take third.

 

Movistar made the peloton explode as they went up the climb and they caught the break before the top. On the descent, Rubiano managed to escape and he could start the final climb with a 10-second advantage before the finale started.

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