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Belda proves his great climbing talent by making a well-timed attack on the finishing climb and holding off a hard chase from Garcia and Szmyd to take both the stage win and the leader's jersey

Photo: Sirotti

SYLVESTER SZMYD

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VUELTA A CASTILLA Y LEON

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17.05.2014 @ 18:38 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

David Belda (Burgos) proved that he is a great climber when he beat the professionals convincingly in today's queen stage of the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon. Making a well-timed attack on the final climb to the finish, he extended his gap all the way to the finish, holding off a hard chase by Marcos Garcia (Caja Rural) and Sylwester Szmyd (Movistar) by almost a minute to take both the stage win and the overall lead.

 

Over the last few year 31-year-old David Belda has given several indications that he has a huge climbing talent but until today the big win has always eluded him. Today he finally got his time in the spotlight when he took a very convincing solo victory in the queen stage of the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon.

 

As the only ProTeam in the race, Movistar were the big favourites to win the stage and they carried the majority of the responsibility to chase down the early break. All was timed perfectly and set for a big finish on the climb to the finish where the race favourites were counting on Javier Moreno and Sylwester Szmyd.

 

Caja Rural took up the gauntlet and started to whittle down the peloton while Belda hid himself in the main group. After the first attacks had been neutralized, it seemed to just be another of those warm-up escapes when Belda made his move in the finale.

 

Unlike the early attackers, however, Belda constantly increased his gap and the race favourites had to come out playing themselves. One of the Caja Rural captain Marcos Garcia set off in pursuit and was later joined by the Movistar leader, Szmyd.

 

However, the duo failed to make up any ground on the lone Belda and in fact kept losing time to the impressive Burgos rider. They never saw the 31-year-old Spaniard again and he rolled across the line to take a comfortable solo victory, 53 seconds ahead of Garcia and 55 seconds ahead of Szmyd.

 

With the win, he also takes over the leader's jersey from Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistart) who struggled in the mountains terrain. He takes his comfortable lead into tomorrow's third and final stage which will be a very difficult affair. It's up and down all day and the riders will go up two big mountains at the midpoint of the stage. They finally descend to a tricky finish that contains several smaller climbs before the line in Bembibre.

 

The queen stage

After yesterday's flat opening stage, the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon hit the mountains on the 179.2km queen stage from Zamora to the top of the Altod de Lubian. After a flat start, the riders went up the category 2 Alto de Pandornelo in the finale as a warm-up for the category 1 ascent to the finish.

 

Like yesterday, the start was very fast as the many continental teams all wanted to be part of the early break. After 8km of racing Benat Txoperena (Euskadi), Diego Rubio (Efapel), Rui Sousa (Radio Popular), Joaquin Sobrino (Differdange), Alfredo Balloni (Nankang) and Pedro Paulinho (LA Aluminios) got the first small got but they were quickly brought back.

 

The break takes off

At the 12km mark, Dario Hernandez (BURGOS), Txoperena and Rubio had built a 25-second gap but several riders tried to bridge across. After 20km of racing, they were 2.38 ahead of the main group while Augusto Sanchez (Differdange) and Silvio Giorni (Aero Zero) were 18 seconds behind.

 

The chase duo bridged the gap to make it a 5-rider front group and they started to open a bigger gap. At the 34km mark, they were 4.25 ahead but now Movistar assumed their position on the front and for most of the stage, they kept the advantage stable between the 3- and 4-minute marks.

 

Movistar up the pace

With 90km to go, Movistar upped the pace and brought the gap down to less than 3 minutes. The pace was too high for Giorni who fell off and was swallowed up by the peloton.

 

The four remaining escapees continued to press on and kept the gap stable at around 2.30. After 128km of racing, the group split in two when Txoperena and Rubio took off on their own.

 

The break is caught

The two chasers were easily brought back while the two leaders also started to lose ground. With 30km to go, they were only 1.40 ahead and they started the first climb with a 1.04 advantage.

 

With 22km to go, they were brought back and this allowed Raul Alarcon (Louletano) to make a small attack to take maximum points on the top, with Paolo Ciavatta (Aero Zero), Luca Chirico (MG Kvis) and Evgeny Shalunov (Lokoshpinx) following in the minor positions.

 

More attacks

With 10km to go, the peloton was back together but new attacks constantly took off. Filipe Cardoso (Efapel) got a 15-second gap but 6km from the finish he was brought back as the riders had now started the final climb.

 

5km from the finish Ricardo Mestre (Efapel) attacked but Caja Rural had now taken over the pace-setting and they quickly brought the Portuguese back. That was when Belda made his move while Rojas fell off the pace.

 

With 3km to go, Belda was 15 seconds ahead of Garcia who had taken off in pursuit but one kilometre further up the climb, he was a massive 42 seconds ahead. Garcia had now been joined by Szmyd but the pair failed to get any closer. Belda crossed the line to take a huge solo win while Garcia dropped Szmyz in the final few *hundred metres

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