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”I'd love Carlos winning this race tomorrow - we'll see what we can do about that tomorrow."

Photo: Movistar Team


16.04.2016 @ 22:06 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

After a difficult start to the race in yesterday’s cold conditions, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) lived up to his status as the overwhelming favourite by claiming a dominant solo win on stage 2 of the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon. After Movistar had split the field in the crosswind, he attacked halfway up the final climb and put 51 seconds into a small chase group that was led to the finish by Carlos Barbero (Caja Rural) and his teammate Jose Joaquin Rojas. Carlos Betancur (Movistar) was part of that group and defended his lead with a 3-second advantage over Valverde.


We have gathered a few reactions.


Alejandro Valverde: I hope that Betancur will win the race overall

Controlling, pushing, attacking, winning. The race strategy went all to perfection for the Movistar Team and Alejandro Valverde on stage two of the Vuelta a Castilla y León. While successfully defending the leader's jersey with Carlos Betancur, the squad directed by José Luis Jaimerena and José Luis Laguía worked hard to ensure Valverde had the best position to seek and claim his third win of the season. At the end, it was sheer domination for the Blues.


The start of the 170.6km trek from Bragança to Fermoselle was again soaked by rain, at least during the Portuguese stretch of Saturday's racing. Ever since the first climb of Rosas (Cat-3), Jorge Arcas started pulling at the front to keep the early break on a leash. The Aragón-based rider's work was crucial so the telephone squad could develop the pre-race strategy once winds picked up its intensity after the Alto de Vimioso. On the plains, the Movistar Team profited from crosswinds to split the peloton twice, leaving only 30 riders ahead. The Blues' strength was so definitive that the two main pelotons were two minutes apart at the 20-kilometer-to-go banner. No chance was left for those behind.


Valverde's time came at the foot of the Alto de Fermoselle (Cat-2).  He jumped off the front with Carlos Barbero (CJR) and later dropped his fellow countryman, opening a 30" gap across the summit that increased to 51" over the finishing line. Courage and class brought the Movistar Team their 10th win of the 2016 season, as they kept Carlos Betancur on top of the GC with three seconds over Valverde. The Blues' sweep of the leader in the standings so far was complete with Winner Anacona, 5th overall, and José Joaquín Rojas, 3rd today and 6th on the overall classification. Still, anything is decided yet: the Alto de la Plataforma's (Cat-1) slopes will still allow for major changes tomorrow.


Valverde said: 


“We could open some gaps again today, we remain in the lead with Carlos, I'm now second at 3"... things couldn't be better for us at this point of the race. Plus, tomorrow's finish is a good one for me - but we mustn't elaborate much on that, as we never know what could happen.


”I just hope that these two stages do well on me before Flèche and Liège, some racing form I needed. I also wish yesterday's awful weather doesn't bring any illness! Even more than the classics, I expect this to be a good preparation before the Giro. It will surely bring some morale up on me, so I can be afraid of none at the start.


”I'd love Carlos winning this race tomorrow - we'll see what we can do about that tomorrow."


Carlos Betancur: Until now, everything has been fantastic

 “The team was simply excellent; it makes one really happy to see how we controlled the race and won,” Betancur said. “We pushed for the entire stage, especially when those crosswinds formed up... and seeing Alejandro taking the stage win in such great style makes you happy to have spent the whole day at the front. I'm still in the lead and I hope I can do well on tomorrow's Cat-1 finish. For the time being, our performance this weekend has been fantastic."


Jose Joaquin Rojas back on form after Paris-Nice injury

"At the bottom of the final climb, Alejandro told me to attack in the first kilometre of the climb. When he says that, you do it,” Rojas told Ciclismo a Fondo.


“I stayed there because he knows that I have a pretty explosive final kilometer and we wanted to play this trump card. After he attacked with Barbero, he dropped his companion and then one with an extraordinary display.


“We wanted to reduce the group and drop the rivals. We pulled all day and when we saw the chance, we accelerated. Pello Bilbao got an advantage yesterday and we had to drop him. We could not wait until tomorrow.


“We have two young riders, and Jorge Arcas and Antonio Pedrero have behaved well. The whole team has been perfect.”


Rojas has just returned from injury but is apparently already in good form


"I am progressing well. Yesterday in the first stage with the cold and rain I suffered more but I'm fine for because I thought that it would hurt more. It keeps bothering me but I have three weeks to get ready for the Giro which is important. My task is to help Alejandro .”


Excellent climbing performance by Carlos Barbero in Castilla y Leon

Caja Rural - Seguros RGA continue to perform well in Vuelta a Castilla y León. On stage 2 of the Spanish race, Carlos Barbero  won the sprint for second place behind Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) who soloed away to take the win. This is the second day in a row that Barbero makes podium in the race. In fact, Caja Rural - Seguros RGA had no less than five riders in top15 on Saturday’s hilly stage. In the general classification, Pello Bilbao is still the team’s best-placed rider in third place, just 15 seconds behind race leader Carlos Betancur (Movistar). Barbero leads the points classification, while he sits fourth overall, 46 seconds down.

”The race split up due to the wind,” Barbero said. “Together with Movistar, we had the majority of riders in the front group and we played out the win between us on the final climb. Valverde attacked early and I went after him. I stayed with him for about two kilometers, but then I had to let go. Later, I managed to recover and win the sprint in the group behind”.


Linus Gerdemann shows signs of form with great ride in Castilla y Leon

Stage 2 of the Vuelta a Castilla y León (2.1) saw Linus Gerdemann in the break of the day for a long time. When they were caught he could stay with the first group and finish in 8th place, 51 seconds behind stage winner Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team).


The first half of the 170.6 km stage from Bragança to Fermoselle was rolling. Many riders tried to get into the break, but no group got away at first. The Team Stölting Service Group riders were attentive, and finally Linus Gerdemann made it into a group of six after more than an hour. With the race controlled by Movistar Team, their advantage never rose above 2:20 minutes.


At km 109 a right turn meant the start of a stretch with crosswinds, and echelons formed in the peloton. The escapees’ advantage fell rapidly, and soon Gerdemann & co. were caught by a group of about 40 including Sven Reutter and Rasmus Quaade. This peloton was reduced further though, with only Gerdemann able to stay with the group.


At the category 2 climb few kilometres before the line Valverde attacked, riding solo to the finish in Fermoselle. The group with Gerdemann had shrunk to under 10 riders and reached the finish 51 seconds later; the German finished 8th. Carlos Betancur (Movistar Team) continues to lead the race, Gerdemann is on a 9th place overall.


Sports Director Gregor Willwohl said: “The boys did well in the first phase, jumping with every group until finally Linus got away. They were caught in the crosswind, but Linus still managed to stay with the first group. I’m satisfied with today’s performance.”


Difficult day for ONE in Castilla y Leon crosswinds

The plan of the day for ONE was to protect Karol Domagalski and John Ebsen for as long as possible before delivering them into the final climb of the day.


Riding well as a unit, the team sheltered each other from the strong cross winds which whipped against the peloton. Unfortunately the team lost a rider following the first climb as Kristian House was forced to abandon, suffering from injuries he sustained in a crash earlier this month.


The windy weather refusing to ease, split the peloton into three groups. Joshua Hunt made the front group accompanied by roughly 23 other riders including 5 from Movistar and 4 from Caja Rural. Meanwhile Karol Domagalski found himself in the second group while Tom Baylis and John Ebsen weren’t too far behind in group three. The large lead group saw their opportunity and the pace increased rapidly as the riders worked together battling against the headwind and increasing their advantage. As the pace picked up a small group including Joshua Hunt fell off the back, finding their way into the second group. Hunt quickly found his team mate Karol Domagalski and the pair worked together as once again the pace only seemed to increase.


Feeling strong and not wanting to be left out of the action, Domagalski attacked off the front of the second group in an attempt to join the leaders but just as he had his sights set on the lead group, Caja Rural closed him down. As the second group surged to the finish line Joshua Hunt worked for Domagalski, helping to set him up for the sprint. Domagalski dug deep and took the bunch sprint taking 26th position, leaving him 26th on the General Classification.



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