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"I'm of course excited about what's to come after this success, but the roles within the team are clear and they won't change. I didn't come here to chase the GC, and our leader is Alejandro."

Photo: Gomez Sport / Luis Ángel Gómez


15.04.2016 @ 21:46 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Carlos Betancur (Movistar) took his first win since the 2014 Paris-Nice when he came out on top in the windy, cold and lumpy first stage of the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon. The Colombian went on the attack on the final climb inside the final 10km and after briefly having been distanced, he beat Pello Bilbao (Caja Rural) in the two-rider sprint to take both the stage win and the leader’s jersey.


We have gathered a few reactions.


Victorious Carlos Betancur: Valverde is still the captain

More than three hours under the rain, with temperatures under 10ºC: that was the scene under which Carlos Betancur claimed his first victory in Movistar Team colours. The opening stage of the Vuelta Castilla y León – 166.3km between Alcañices, Zamora, and Bragança, in Portugal - had some dreadful conditions in store to balance what seemingly was a gentle route, with only three cat-3 climbs. And despite the rainstorm, a Colombian prevailed. 'La Ronca' is back!


The squad directed by José Luis Jaimerena and José Luis Laguía started pursuing the day's seven-man break well before the Alto de Carmona. Before the Alto de Bragança, already on Portuguese soil, the Blues were pulling at full steam to ensure it was caught and creating some fireworks on the Alto do Castillo, the last climb of the day. That was Betancur's time.


7km from the line, the man from Antioquia jumped off the front together with Pello Bilbao (CJR). Despite some nerves at the front, his rival asking for some extra turns, and a bit of a gap on the descent for Bilbao, the sprint was contested between the two, ultimately bringing the Eusebio Unzue-led squad its 9th success of the 2016 season – with seven different riders - and Betancur's 13th since he turned pro, one largely awaited for after 760 days of drought since he conquered Paris-Nice in 2014.


The GC has offered some early gaps today, with Betancur and Bilbao 46" ahead of a trio with Barbero (CJR), Sokolov (LOK) and Winner Anacona (5th), the big bunch at at 54" as Alejandro Valverde took 8th. The Movistar riders, also leading the teams' GC, will fight tomorrow to maintain the jersey atop the Alto de Fermoselle (2ª), 3km from a finishing line that will surely see another small group coming across.


Carlos Betancur said: 


“I'm really happy to win again after so long. Cold, rainy conditions suit me well - Alejandro and many team-mates and rivals struggled quite a bit during the race and I had to profit from that. In the final 25km, the break still had two minutes, so I decided to come to the front and help my team-mates since we were at a bit of disadvantage against Caja Rural - we had led the bunch during the whole stage. When you've got a big rider like Alejandro at your side, you must help him.


“Several attacks went before Bilbao's; that's when I decided to go after him. Despite him taking some meters on the descent, I could bridge back for the sprint... and that's how I got the win!


"I'm of course excited about what's to come after this success, but the roles within the team are clear and they won't change. I didn't come here to chase the GC, and our leader is Alejandro. We'll see how these two stages will go, but Bala is in excellent condition - we remain committed to him.


”This victory is a tribute to Franco Gini, a man who helped me a lot to get on the right path again, making me reflect on the keys to success and how to do things well. Now, I've got a strong squad supporting me, Movistar Team, which has relied on me - this is a reward to them, for believing in what I could do."


Frustrated Pello Bilbao: Betancur didn’t collaborate

Caja Rural - Seguros RGA started out this year’s Vuelta a Castilla y León on a very good note with two riders in top3 in the opening stage of the Spanish stage race.

Pello Bilbao finished second to stage winner Carlos Betancur (Movistar) after the duo went away on the final part of the stage. Carlos Barbero sprinted to third place, 46 seconds behind the two riders.
With a stage finish in Portugal, it was no surprise to see Caja Rural - Seguros RGA’s Portuguese rider José Gonçalves put in the first attack after the last rider from the morning breakaway was caught. Gonçalves’ attack didn’t stick but it made the way for Bilbao to counterattack shortly after.
Pello Bilbao said:


“We attacked with about 10 km left to go and we quickly got a good gap. Betancur didn’t collaborate so I tried to go solo. At the end, he caught me and even though I felt like I was the strongest, he still managed to pass me in the sprint. However, the team did very well and we are now in a good position to fight for the overall win”.
In the general classification, Bilbao is 4 seconds behind Betancur, while Barbero sits third, 52 seconds down.


Aggressive ride by ONE in Castilla y Leon opener

It was less than favourable weather as rain fell heavy on the peloton for over 3 hours without easing. Remaining focused ONE Pro Cycling positioned themselves nicely at the front of the group allowing Tom Baylis to launch a solo attack only 2.5km into the stage. Less than 10km later Baylis had opened up a 47 second advantage. Not wanting to miss their chance, a group of 7 chasers surged off the front of the bunch, joining Baylis and forming a strong 8-man breakaway.


As the peloton settled down allowing the gap to go out, Tom Baylis took the opportunity to compete for the first KOM of the day, claiming 2nd on the 3rd Category climb, Alto de Carmona.


The weather refused to ease up as Movistar moved to the front of the peloton to close down the leaders with 50km to go. Picking up the pace Baylis suffered a puncture passing the 137km mark but this didn’t stop the young British rider as he fought his way back into the break with 25km to go.


After a gutsy ride from Baylis the break was caught with only 11km to go.


The aim of the day was to set up Karol Domagalski for the finish but a second puncture for the team saw the Polish rider stopped in his tracks. Having worked tirelessly to get back on the bunch with only 7km to go, Karol Domagalski had seriously eaten into his energy reserves. Positioning himself in the best possible place for the bunch sprint to the line Domagalski claimed a respectable 17th place.


Linus Gerdemann stays in contention on difficult day for Stölting

For Stölting, Linus Gerdemann finished within the peloton. Lennard Kämna however had to abandon the race. Hehad started the race with a cold and was soon chilled to the bones due to the rain; eventually he stood off for health reasons.


“After today I know why I stopped racing myself,” said Sports Director Gregor Willwohl. “It hadn’t rained here for months, and now it rains since yesterday. The boys were freezing all day, and Lennard didn’t finish due to his cold. There were some mechanicals too. Jonas [Tenbrock], Sven [Reuter] and Thomas [Koep] were dropped on the finishing circuit; Thomas almost fought his way back to the peloton though. I hope the weather will be better tomorrow!”




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