The fourth victory of the season for Movistar Team is taking long to come as the team enter today on the second month of their racing calendar. While José Joaquín Rojas went on an unsuccessful fight for the victory in the Tour du Haut Var on the weekend, it was time today for Fran Ventoso to touch the triumph in Vuelta a Andalucía’s stage 2.
The Spanish rider was 2nd behind Frenchman Jonathan Hivert (SAU) at the finishing line of Adra after a thrilling, demanding 161km trek from Almuñecar, with three categorized climbs: the hardest two on the route -Polopos (HC) and Albuñol (Cat. 1)- located halfway course but nonetheless breaking the race into pieces, with a short group of twenty riders leading the race as Intxausti, Pardilla -who suffered a flat tire with 5 kilometers remaining- and Pasamontes made the selection, while another 40-rider peloton with Lastras, Herrada -who got dropped shortly before the latter descent- and Ventoso came just behind them. With both groups getting together after the second ascent, Ventoso played his cards on the final sprint and came a tubular short for the fourth success of the year by Movistar Team. It was still another sign of the strong season start by the Spaniard, who almost came over the shadow of his good friend J.J. Rojas when it comes to top-ten placements over the season: nine from Fran, ten from the rider based in Cieza. Basque Markel Irizar (RSH) is now in the lead, with Pasamontes in 5th place after being sixth today, plus Intxausti in 9th spot.
“It’s been sweet-and-sour taste for me today,” explained Ventoso shortly before starting the long 150km transfer by car to Movistar Team’s hotel in Granada. “I’m happy since I’m finding myself really well, but a bit pissed off because I saw myself really close to winning, and, as I always say, second is first among losers. 500 meters from the finish, I got myself a bit alone against the wind and I let some riders overtake me. I started my sprint form behind, but that was because I was feeling strong and I thought I could win, because I was taking on Hivert, but he held on and in the ending ten meters he pushed a bit and outsprinted me by an inch. It’s been a pity, because the race was really hard right from the first climb, and after suffering so much, losing so much energy on the way to come on front today, it gets you a bit angry. I feel sorry for the team because they were phenomenal once again, always with riders on front and then protecting me to the end when we connected. But I’m going to keep trying because I’m OK, and the upcoming three stages suit me even better than today’s.“