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Having distanced all the Movistar stars, Carthy and Pardilla dominated the first stage of the Vuelta a Asturias as the Brit rode to a solo win with a 22-second advantage over his teammate; Bravo completed the podium

Photo: Rafa Gómez / Ciclismo a Fondo

CAJA RURAL - SEGUROS RGA

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GARIKOITZ BRAVO

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HUGH CARTHY

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SERGIO PARDILLA

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VUELTA ASTURIAS

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30.04.2016 @ 18:30 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

On a day when Movistar had been expected to steal the show, Hugh Carthy (Caja Rural) confirmed his huge climbing potential by claiming an impressive solo win in the tough mountaintop finish on the first stage of the Vuelta Asturias. Having dropped the Movistar stars earlier on the Alto El Acebo, he distanced his teammate Sergio Pardilla with 500m to go and put 22 seconds into the Spaniard in the final part of the climb to open his professional account and take the race lead. Pardilla and Garikoitz Bravo (Euskadi) completed the podium while Daniel Moreno was the best Movistar rider in sixth.

 

It has never been a secret that Hugh Carthy is a great climbing talent and he started to show his potential on the biggest scene during his first pro season when he climbed with the best in the 2015 USA Pro Challenge. However, it was at this year’s Volta a Catalunya that the full extent of his talent was revealed when he finished in the top 10 at a race that had gathered the best start list for any one-week stage race this year.

 

The result made Carthy one to watch for this week’s Vuelta Asturias whose mountainous course made it perfectly suited to his skills. However, as crashed at the Giro del Trentino, there was some uncertainty regarding his form and as he was up against a formidable Movistar team led by Daniel Moreno and Carlos Betancur, the odds were against him as he headed out for the queen stage already on the first day.

 

However, Carthy was completely unstoppable and rode to an impressive solo win on a fabulous day for Caja Rural. His teammate Sergio Pardilla was the best of the rest and so it became a memorable 1-2 for the Spanish team while their big brothers at Movistar had to settle for sixth with Moreno.

 

The 59th edition of the Vuelta Asturias kicked off with its hardest stage, a short 152.5km ride fromOviedo to Alto del Acebo. However, what it lacked in length, it had in difficulty as there were a total of four climbs on the menu. The riders tackled two category 3 and one category 2 climb at the midpoint before they followed flat roads to the bottom of the brutal Alto del Acebo which averaged 8.1% over 9.5km, making for a tough mountaintop finish.

 

It was excellent sunshine when the riders gathered for the start and they got the race off to a fast opening phase. After lots of attacks, it was a 14-rider group that formed with the likes of Javier Aramendia (Caja Rural), Vadim Zhuravlev (Lokosphinx), Pablo Guerrero (Radio Popular), Arnau Sole (Burgos), Diego Milan (Inteja), Rui Rodrigues (Louletano), Eneko Lizarralde (Euskadi), Jorge Cubero (Burgos), Paolo Ciavatta (D’Amico), Raul Alarcon (W52), Imanol Erviti (Movistar), Guillaume De Almeida (Radio Popular) and Rafael Marquez (Inteja). They were allowed to get some freedom before Rodriguez beat Cubero and Marquez in the first intermediate sprint. Manzana and Louletano took control in the peloton which was 3 minutes behind at the sprint.

 

As the riders hit the hillier terrain, the front group was whittled down to just 6 riders. Another rider made it back and Alarcon, Ciavatta, De Almeida, Lizarralde, Cubero, Milan and Zhuravlev gathered in the front with an advantage of 1.35 while the rest of the group was caught.

 

As they hit the Alto de la Espina, Alarcon took off in a solo move and he quickly got an advantage a 30-second advantage over Milan, Ciavatta and De Almeida. The peloton was now 1.40 behind the lone leader and it was Erviti working on the front with the Caja Rural riders.

 

Alarcon crested the summit with a 1-minute advantage over Ciavatta and De Almeida while the rest of the group had splintered. Lizarralde was fourth across the line and then it was Cubero and Milan and finally the lone Zhuravlev.

 

Movistar and Caja Rural created a selection on the climb and then the WorldTour team took control as they reeled in the many chasers. Alarcon dug deep but his gap had been reduced to just a minute as he entered the final 25km.

 

Alarcon fought his best but with 20km to go, it was all back together for a battle between the favourites on the final climb. Surprisingly, it was the small Manzana team that took control on the lower slopes but very soon, Movistar lined out five riders on the front, reducing the group to just 25 riders.

 

With 7km to go, Carthy made his first move but he had no luck and instead his teammate Angel Madrazo gave it a go. Heiner Parra (Manzana) joined the move while Carlos Betancur (Movistar) was dropped from the peloton.

 

Parra dropped Madrazo and instead he got company from behind when Carthy and Garikoitz Bravo made it across with 4km to go. Further back, Javier Moreno, Daniel Moreno (Movistar), Sergio Pardilla, Madrazo (Caja Rural), Mikel Bizkarra (Euskadi) and Federico Figueiredo (Radio Popular) had gathered and they managed to catch the front trio.

 

Javier Moreno and Figueiredo were dropped just as Pardilla launched the next Caja Rural attack with 3km to go. Bravo managed to join the move but Pardilla went again and so soloed clear.

 

The peloton exploded completely and with 1.5km to go, Carthy was the nearest chaser, followed by Bravo. Parra was next while Daniel Moreno found himself with Bizkarra in a small duo.

 

Carthy joined Pardilla and the pair entered the final kilometre together. With 500m to go, Carthy dropped his teammate and soloed to victory. Pardilla crossed the line 22 seconds later, with Bravo taking third at 28 seconds, while it was a disappointing day for Movistar as Daniel Moreno was their best rider in 6th, 51 seconds behind.

 

With the win, Carthy takes the first leader’s jersey and he now leads Pardilla by 32 seconds. He should have a much easier on stage 2 which is the easiest of the three-day race. After a flat first third, there are five category 3 climbs on the menu but the final ascent comes with 15.2km to go and with a descent and slightly rising section in the finale, a reduced bunch sprint is the expected outcome.

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