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"I am pleased with this victory that confirms the good work done this winter and it me great confidence for the season that has just begun. It is a season in which my big goal is to win with the national team at the Olympic Games in Ri...

Photo: Tim De Waele / TDWSport.com

AG2R LA MONDIALE

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ALEXIS VUILLERMOZ

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ANDRÉ FERNANDO MARTINS CARDOSO

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DAYER QUINTANA

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DECEUNINCK - QUICK-STEP

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EF PRO CYCLING

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EDUARDO SEPULVEDA

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MIGUEL ANGEL LOPEZ

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MOVISTAR TEAM

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NAIRO QUINTANA

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RAFAL MAJKA

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RODRIGO CONTRERAS

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TOUR DE SAN LUIS

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VINCENZO NIBALI

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22.01.2016 @ 15:50 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

One day after seeing his overall ambitions being dealt a big blow due to a crash, Eduardo Sepulveda (Fortuneo-Vital Concept) bounced back in the most spectacular fashion in his home race, the Tour de San Luis, as he rode to a hugely impressive solo win in the first mountain stage of the race. After attacking from a select group of favourites with 6km to go, he passed the pair of Janier Acevedo (Jamis) and Dayer Quintana (Movistar) and managed to put no less than 54 seconds into runner-up Acevedo at the finish, with Pablo Villalobos (Costa Rica) bridging the gap to Quintana and crossing the line in third. Sepulveda also takes the overall lead with a 3-second advantage over the youngest Quintana brother.

 

We have gathered several reactions.

 

Sepulveda: This gives me confidence for Rio

A few months ago he was involved in an incredible episode when he was thrown out of the Tour de France, for taking a lift in a rival team car. Yesterday Eduardo Sepulveda had a completely different feeling.

 

"That was a big mistake, but it now belongs to the past. We are talking today and I am pleased with this victory that confirms the good work done this winter and it me great confidence for the season that has just begun. It is a season in which my big goal is to win with the national team at the Olympic Games in Rio.

 

"I started riding when I was 12, first on the the track and then on the road and for me it was important to join the World Cycling Centre in Aigle. During my four years as a professional, I have been in a Breton team but I live in Andorra where there are great places to train.

 

“With six kilometres to go I decided to go and I went. The wind was in my favour, so that helped me to get a good advantage and win the stage. I still had to put in all of my strength in order to get an advantage over [Vincenzo ] Nibali and [Nairo] Quintana. I could see the finish line in the distance and I didn’t think that I would take the lead in the general classification as well because I was so far away, but in the end I was able to reach it and now I am the leader.

“It’s going to be a difficult stage [stage 6]because I am only three seconds ahead of Dayer Quintana, and there are also other Colombians that are climbing very well. I will try to be on the front for most of the time so that if someone tries to attack then I will be able to defend the jersey.

 

“Dayer is going really well and I think that he will use a very similar tactic to today in the next mountain stage. He will try to attack and breakaway from the bunch.”

 

Costa Rican beats the stars in San Luis mountains

Costa Rican Roman Villalobos (1990) reached the Cerro El Amago in third, just behind winner Eduardo Sepúlveda and Janier Acevedo, and ahead of Nairo Quintana, Rafal Majka and other big names in Argentina.

 

Villalobos is one of the talents from the American country which has Andrey Amador (Movistar Team) as its main rider. He arrived in Argentina with good form after winning the Tour of Guatemala in November and being second in the Tour of Costa Rica. 

 

"I have no words to describe this podium spot and the emotion that I have, and I thank God for giving me a third place and the opportunity to do this, what I love most. This is a new beginning," he told La Nacion. "To me it means a lot because it is the best race of America. It is no secret that I am fighting every day to be at the top. It is the best podium that I have achieved in my cycling career and I hope it is the start of something good.”

I

 

In 2016, he will run ride for the Mexican Canel's Specialized and will have his next target at the Tour of Mexico in February while he also has a desire is to win in the Tour of Costa Rica after losing by 17 seconds in 2015 and also being second in 2012.

 

In San Luis, he is seventh overall at 1:06 and only 28 seconds from the podium. "Hopefully, I can be present again in the high mountains on Saturday and fight for the stage," he said.

 

He did not have the best feelings in stage 4. "I suffered a lot in the beginning of the mountain and I had bad legs due to the high tempo of 50kph in the run-in. I was thinking about sitting up and was dehydrated but I stayed calm,” he said.

 

"When we started to climb, people started to pass me until I got better. There were strong attacks. Nario attacked once and got away alone but I did not panic. I countered and joined Dayer Quintana and finally held him off so I could finish it off with a third place.”

 

Costa Rica is now second behind the Movistar Team in the teams classification. In addition to the third place for Villalobos, Juan Carlos Rojas was 17th, Joshua Gonzalez  25th and Pablo Mudarra 30th.  César Rojas and Paul Betancourt complete the team.

 

Tactics fails for Quintana brothers in San Luis

Barely a couple of breaths, three seconds, was the difference which prevented Dayer Quintana from taking the lead in a stage race for the first time since he became a pro in 2014, the Cómbita-born rider having opened his victory account 18 months ago at the Queen stage of the Tour of Austria. The Colombian from the Movistar Team proved to have real courage on the Cerro El Amago climb, end of the fourth stage in the Tour de San Luis, where Eduardo Sepúlveda (FVC) completed a sensational performance by putting 1'31" into the 'Boyacense', despite the younger of the Quintanas having attacked just after the foot of the ascent - looking forward to help his sibling.

 

Well protected until the final 11km of uphill by Ventoso, Malori, Soler and even Dani Moreno who later sacrificed himself in the pursuit to help Nairo out, Dayer was initially chased down and dropped by Janier Acevedo (JAM) who finished in 2nd place, and later on, after Sepúlveda, by Román Villalobos from Costa Rica, the duo completing the final part of the climb together. Dayer finished in 4th place, missing out on what ultimately became precious bonus seconds.

 

Behind, vigilance between race contenders made Nairo unable to progress further, the 2014 Giro d'Italia champion in 8th over the line at 2'10". The older of the Colombian saga is now fourth overall, with Sepúlveda, Contreras (EQS, 3rd), López (AST, 5th) and three from the Movistar Team - Dayer, 2nd; Nairo, 42" down; and Dani Moreno, 6th at 56"-  only a minute apart.

 

Saturday's climb towards the Filo Sierras Comechingones, the highest point in the region, now becomes breathtaking as a GC showdown. Climbers will have, though, a day to recover as stage five on Friday seems to be decided in a mass sprint after 169km from Renca to Juana Koslay. The Movistar Team, directed here by José Luis Jaimerena, does have one lead in his pocket at this point: the teams' classification, by almost six minutes of advantage.

 

"On the one hand, I'm really happy,” Dayer said. “From a personal point of view, because I'm feeling strong against such talented, experienced riders right at the start of the season, and team-wise, because we're still in contention with many riders without offering our full potential. On the other hand, it's true there's sort of a bitter taste as we couldn't take the race lead.

 

"The Cerro El Amago was extremely demanding, but we could perform well. Our tactics were me attacking and, later on, waiting for another move from Nairo and helping him out as much as I could. We tried the first part, but seeing how many riders were on Nairo's wheel, not letting him go, he told me to carry on.

 

"I think I've taken a step forward with my physical progression, and this result will surely bring me confidence. Saturday? We must take that stage as seriously as today's and search for a good strategy. After reaching this second place, I'll be as focused as ever to improve it."

 

“The goal was effectively this: bridging back to Dayer and going with everything until the finish,” Nairo said. “I'd have been delighted to see him winning, but things don't turn out the way you want them to do at times. It'd have been great for him to win, because his work deserves some sort of success -  I really hope it'll come. At the Filo Sierras, we'll know who takes the title home. We'll try something similar to today, hoping we're more fortunate.”

 

Lopez takes over from Nibali in San Luis

"I did a good race,” said Miguel Angel Lopez after the fourth stage of the Tour de San Luis, “and I must thank the team for allowing me to start the final climb in the top positions.”

 

"I chose to stay with the favorites,” said the young Colombian, “and not to make too much effort to catch the first riders. On Saturday I will give my best and try to win the general classification.”

 

"We are pleased,” commented Astana sports director Paolo Slongo. “Lopez is one of our most talented young riders and the fact that he finished with the first means that he is improving quickly.”

 

After the first stage with an uphill finish, the ranking is led by Argentine Eduardo Sepulveda while Lopez is fifth with a delay of 51 seconds from first place. Lopez is also second in the Best young rider classification with a gap of only 13 seconds to leader Colombian Rodrigo Contreras.

 

Vincenzo Nibali lost more than five minutes.

 

“The sensations in my legs were not good so I decided to take the climb at my own pace and not go too deep,” he said after the stage.

 

Majka bounces back after stage 3 disappointment
Tinkoff's Polish marquee rider at the Tour de San Luis, put a good performance in today's fourth stage and moved to the GC top ten, 1:36 behind the leader. The South American riders dominated the first mountain stage of the race.

 

It was the first summit finish for the Argentinian tour and the big day for the climbers with a hard climb to Cerro del Amago. The summit at 1,710 metres put a strain on the riders and gave the South American climbers the chance to shine, while Tinkoff's squad worked hard to protect Rafal Majka.

 

"Considering that, apart from the scorching heat, we find in the top spots most of the South American climbers, who were riding at home", commented sport director Patxi Vila, "and that it was the first climb tackled by Majka after the World Championships, I think we can be satisfied by his performance today. Let's not forget he finished together with Nairo Quintana, another climber who will be challenging the Grand Tours this year".

 

"In the end, what happened is what I expected, we tackled the climb calmly knowing it was long, and Rafal was very good in managing his own race. There's just some regret for those 40 seconds he lost in yesterday's stage because he could be in a better position, a little further ahead, in the general classification", concluded Vila.


"I am very happy with my performance today,” commented Rafal Majka on the stage, “we can see my shape is building up. Yesterday we lost some time because of my flat tire but today I was feeling good and I would like to thank the entire squad for their effort to position me at the front. They did a great job and even Peter Sagan joined in to help the final kilometers before the climb. My condition is improving, so we'll see what happens on Saturday's stage six."

 

Tomorrow's stage, the fifth of the race, is 168.7 kilometers long and will take the riders from Renca to Juana Koslay. It is a stage more suited to sprinters with a slightly uphill finish which should not worry the faster riders in the team.

 

"Tomorrow's stage will be an undulating one, therefore we'll be staying next to Peter Sagan, also because it will be the fifth day of the race and legs will start feeling the heatwave. Majka will try instead to recover some energy ahead of Saturday's stage with the second summit finish at Filo Sierras Comechingones", concluded Vila.

 

Cardoso takes Cannondale leadership in San Luis

André Cardoso contended with the best climbers in the Tour de San Luis bunch on a decisive fourth stage that saw the race’s general classification begin to take shape.

 

Eduarado Sepulveda (Fortuneo – Vital Concept) soloed to victory in Cerro El Amago ahead of Janier Acevedo (Team Jamis) in second at 54”. Cardoso finished in a five-rider group at 2’14 – and slotted into 12th place. His performance saw him jump up to eighth overall with three stages still to come.

 

“It was the first day in the mountains and in fact I can say that the work done in the winter was very good and is super important,” he wrote on Faceboo. “I hope to maintain this level and consistency throughout the year.

 

“I want to my teammates for keeping me out of the wind and giving me ice and bottles every day. Words are not sufficient to describe the work (invisible) of these men. We are in the fight.”

 

”So pumped to see Andre Cardoso up with the best on the final climb at Tour de San Luis. The result doesn’t quite reflect how great the ride was,” Alex Howes tweeted after the stage.

 

“Post-crash goals for Tour San Luis: Help ‪#‎GreenArygle in the race and don’t let André hear me scream in the shower,” Philip Gaimon tweeted.

 

Contreras in podium contention in first race for Etixx-QuickStep

Returning to the race one year after finishing fifth, Rodrigo Contreras didn't have a smooth day, mainly due to the aftermath of a crash in which he was involved earlier in the week, but that didn't prevent him from fighting hard against a strong opposition in the season's curtain-raiser, an encouraging sign of things to come. The 21-year-old Colombian gained a place on the general classification and is now third, just 38 seconds adrift, while also leading the U23 ranking, which means he'll spend tomorrow's stage in the light blue jersey that rewards the best young cyclist of the race.

 

"It was a difficult stage, especially because of the high temperatures, but thanks to the incredible work of my teammates I was well positioned at the beginning of the last climb. As soon as the road started to rise, riders went full-throttle, and at one point I was left behind. Still, I didn't give up, I found my rhythm and slowly began to claw back time. Considering that I'm not at 100% because of the crash in which I was involved a couple of days ago, I am happy with my result and I'm very motivated for the upcoming stages", said Rodrigo Contreras, the team's best-placed cyclist in the overall standings.

 

Difficult start for Alexis Vuillermoz in San Luis

Having complained about the heat in the previous stages, Alexis Vuillermoz could only manage 20th in the first mountain stage.

 

“I finished 20th in this mountain stage at 2'57 from the first but "only" 47 "behind the group that sprinted for 6th place. The first big and long effort of the season has really not been easy,” he wrote on Facebook.

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