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After they had taken control in the finale, Caja Rural delivered Barbero to his first win for the Spanish as he beat Sanz in a bunch sprint on the final stage of the Vuelta a Madrid; Shalunov won the race overall

CAJA RURAL - SEGUROS RGA

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ENRIQUE SANZ UNZUE

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EVGENI SHALUNOV

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VUELTA A MADRID

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10.05.2015 @ 13:39 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Carlos Barbero continued the excellent run of success for the Caja Rural team by taking his first win for the squad in the final stage of the Vuelta a la Comunidad de Madrid. After his team had controlled the finale, the Spaniard beat Enrique Sanz (Movistar) and Adrian Gonzalez (Murias Taldea) in the bunch sprint while Evgeny Shalunov (Lokosphinx) secured the overall victory.

 

Crashes, illness and injuries made the early part of the 2015 season one to forget for the Caja Rural team who was left frustrated on numerous occasions during the months of February and March. In recent weeks, however, they have managed to turn things around and has taken a number of victories.

 

It all started in the Vuelta al Pais Vasco where they delivered an aggressive performance that saw Omar Fraile win the mountains jersey. A few weeks later David Arroyo got very close to the first win in the final stage of the Giro del Trentino but it was Pello Bilbao who finally broke the drought when he won the first stage of the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon on April 17.

 

Since then the Spanish team have been unstoppable. One week later Fraile took his first professional victory when he won the Giro dell’Appennino and the team had a magical Tour of Turkey where both Bilbao and Lluis Mas managed to win a stage, Mas took the sprints jersey and the team took the collective title. Yesterday Fraile continued the momentum by winning the queen stage of the 4 Days of Dunkirk.

 

Carlos Barbero has been the protected sprinter for the team on numerous occasions but the Spaniard has not had much luck in the bunch sprints. With a few second places, he has been close to the first win for the team but until today the victory had always eluded him.

 

Barbero finally made things right today when they final stage of the Vuelta Comunidad de Madrid came down to the expected bunch sprint after a short, mostly flat circuit race over less than 100km. After his team had been aggressive in the early part of the race, they decided to bet everything on their sprinter and made sure that lone attacker Winner Anacona (Movistar) was brought back in time for a bunch sprint. Here Barbero timed things perfectly to narrowly hold off Enrique Sanz to deny Movistar a stage win in a race that they were expected to dominate while Adrian Gonzalez completed the podium.

 

For Evgeny Shalunov, the day ended as the most beautiful in his short professional career. After his breakthrough victory in yesterday’s hard opening stage, the Russian had his Lokosphinx team control the race perfectly and so he secured the overall victory. Diego Rubio (Efapel) and Alberto Gallego (Radio Popular) completed the podium.

 

Shalunov also won the points competition while Eduard Prades (Caja Rural) was the best climber. Alexander Rybalkin (Lokosphinx) was the best young rider and Lokosphinx completed a great race by winning the teams classification.

 

Due to the economic crisis, the Spanish racing calendar has been significantly reduced and so there will now be a big break on the Iberian Peninsula. The next major event in Spain is the one-day race Prueba Villafranca-Ordizako Klasika on July 25.

 

One for the sprinters

After the hilly opening stage, the Vuelta Comunidad de Madrid finished with a short 98.8km circuit race in El Pilar close to Madrid. It consisted of 18 laps if a 5.5km circuit that included a 2km climb with an average gradient of 2% in the first half before it descended to a mostly flat finish.

 

The riders had perfect weather conditions when they gathered for the start in Pilar and with the short distance, they had no reason to hold anything back. Hence, the stage got off to a fast start with lots of attacks but Lokoshinx were controlling everything firmly for their leader Evgeny Shalunov. Winner Anacona (Movistar), Garikoitz Bravo (Murias Taldea), Ricardo Vilela (Caja Rural), Jose De Segovia (Louletano), Jasha Sütterlin (Movistar), Alejandro Marque (Efapel), Hugo Sabido (Louletano) Marcos Garcia (Louletano) and Samuel Magalhaes (Radio Popular) were all among the early attackers.

 

The break takes off

Marc Soler (Movistar), Mikel Bizkarra (Murias Taldea), Joaquim Silva (W52), Jesus del Pino (Burgis), Hugo Sancho (LA Aluminios) and Ricardo Ferreria (Radio Popular) finally managed to build an advantage that reached 33 seconds at the end of the 5th lap. In the peloton, Lokoshinx were controlling things firmly, preventing the gap from getting out of control. Meanwhile, Bizkarra was dropped and fell back to the peloton

 

As they passed the halfway point, Louletano started to chase and that had a big impact. When the gap was down to just 10 seconds, Soler decided to make a solo attack after he had won the first intermediate sprint but he didn’t manage to stay clear for long.

 

A new break gets clear

Instead, it was his teammate Winner Anacona who joined forces with Eduard Prades (Caja Rural) to form the next break. While Lokoshinx again took control, the gap quickly went out to 38 seconds before Louletano again started to chase.

 

With 6 laps to go, Anacona distanced Prades who was brought back, and the lone Colombian even managed to extend his advantage to 46 seconds. That was the signal for Caja Rural to kick into action and their increased pace was enough to end Anacona’s time in front.

 

From there, Caja Rural maintained a high speed all the way to the final lap where Dario Hernandez (Burgos) made a late attack. He was quickly brought back and so it came down to a bunch sprint where Barbero emerged as the fastest.

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