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 “On the final climb, my main priority was keeping Carlos into contention; there were several moves on the first slopes of the ascent and we could control them more or less comfortably, without him losing the wheel of the group.&...

Photo: Unipublic


18.04.2016 @ 00:22 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) lived up to his status as the overwhelming favourite at the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon by claiming his second win in a row in the queen stage on the final day and winning the race overall. Despite being up against several Caja Rural riders, he controlled things perfectly before winning the uphill sprint, holding off Joni Brandao (Efapel) and David Arroyo (Caja Rural). Pello Bilbao (Caja Rural) was second overall, with Brandao completing the podium.


We have gathered a few reactions.


Victorious Alejandro Valverde: I tried to support Betancur

The Movistar Team were infallible, committed in full and more successful than ever in the Vuelta a Castilla y León. Alejandro Valverde and the Blues left the Spanish event with all four major victories at stake as the Spanish road race champion, always trying to keep team-mate and GC leader Carlos Betancur into contention for a well-deserved overall victory, ultimately had to go on his own after the Colombian struggled on the last climb of stage three.


‘El Imbatido’ showed his best form leading up to the Giro and got closer to the magic number of 100 pro victories - now at 95 - while taking Eusebio Unzué’s outfit up to fourth in the victory rankings with 12, seven of them in barely fifteen days.


The final day of racing in northwestern Spain, 161.4km between Salamanca and Candelario, always had the telephone squad at the front, with the likes of Arcas, Dowsett, Pedrero, Rojas and Anacona keeping all attempts under control. With the Movistar Team not allowing the day’s main break opening gaps bigger than two minutes and a late move by Lluis Mas (CJR) efficiently suffocated, the roster directed by José Luis Jaimerena and José Luis Laguía made sure it all came down to the 6km Alto de la Plataforma (Cat-1).


Without Betancur, dropped halfway through the ascent after plenty of attacks, Valverde took the reins to chase down every other attempt and use his speed at the end to claim his fifth success of 2016. As a result of this victory, the Movistar Team has already conquered four races overall in 2016, all of them in style: San Luis, with Dayer Quintana, Nairo at his service; Andalucía, again with Valverde after an excellent Peñas Blancas climb; and Catalunya, where Quintana bested some of the world’s top stage racers. Undoubtedly, a huge boost of morale for the whole squad, just three weeks ahead of the Giro start.


Valverde said: “I’m leaving Castilla y León full of happiness. The race couldn’t have gone better - stage wins for Betancur and myself, the GC - and, above all, this is an excellent way to get the racing pace and start building up before the Giro, which I’m so excited about. I want to thank the whole team - they worked their heart out all weekend long and even more so today, from the very beginning.


“On the final climb, my main priority was keeping Carlos into contention; there were several moves on the first slopes of the ascent and we could control them more or less comfortably, without him losing the wheel of the group. However, at some point he started to suffer, and we had to keep going so we could still stand a chance. I managed well that group with Brandao and the Caja Rural riders before going for the sprint with 100 meters to go.


“Now it’s all about Flèche and Liège. Going for the win? Well, we will see. The field of contenders is completely different to what I had to face this weekend. Those are races I’ve really enjoyed for years, but my main goal at the moment is staying safe and keeping my form going up before the biggest goal of the early season for me, which is the Giro.”


Pello Bilbao after second place: We did everything to try to beat Movistar

Caja Rural - Seguros RGA had a very strong end to this year’s Vuelta a Castilla y León. After taking second place in the first two stages of the race, the team made podium once again on the third and final day when David Arroyo finished third on Alto de la Plataforma.


Pello Bilbao and Jaime Rosón made it another good day for the team by finishing fourth and fifth behind Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) who won the stage and the overall race.


 In the general classification, Bilbao moved up to second place, while Arroyo (fourth) and Rosón (fifth) made sure Caja Rural - Seguros RGA finished the race with no less than three riders in top5 overall and won the team classification ahead of Movistar.


 Pello Bilbao said:


“Today, we did everything we could trying to break Movistar’s winning streak but it didn’t work out. However, the overall balance is good. The team worked hard every day during this race and to finish second behind a top rider like Valverde is a good sign. I’m happy with my performance.”


Linus Gerdemann shows form with 10th place in Castilla y Leon

Linus Gerdemann delivered another good performance, finishing the race in 10th place overall. He finished 1:40 minutes later in 16th place, defending his top 10 spot in the final GC.


“Movistar controlled the race, that’s why we didn’t go for the break,” said Sports Director Gregor Willwohl. “Rasmus Quaade had a mechanical towards the end, and Thomas Koep has only recently returned to racing; therefore I told the two of them to climb off. Linus did well on the climb and got new motivation when he saw the GC leader Betancur getting dropped. 10th overall is a great result, especially after the horrible weather on the first two stages.”


The next race for the team is the Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday. The prestigious classic finishing atop the Mur de Huy is the first WorldTour race in the history of Team Stölting Service Group.



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