Movistar Team are keeping their excellent level throughout the season and have claimed their seventh triumph of the year on Wednesday. Fran Ventoso has taken the final sprint in Palencia, the finishing point of the first stage in the 26th Vuelta a Castilla y León, where the Spanish fastman crowned the big teamwork by his teammates in the finale.
The telephone squad collaborated with many other teams on the chase of the 7-man breakaway that led the way to the finish, and then, in the final climb of the day, kept the pace high with Lastras and Tondo to split the group and tire some of Ventoso’s rivals. Italian Manuel Belleti and Slovenian Marko Kump were respectlvely second and third behind Ventoso, who, apart from the day’s win -his third of the season and the 25th in his eight-year career- and the Sprint and Combination jerseys, also took the first leader’s jersey. The Cantabrian will have to defend it through the second stage, a long one into the flatlands with 213km from Valladolid to Salamanca. Just before the ending climb, Mauricio Soler crashed with no physical consequences, except for some stitches in the little finger of his right hand.
Fran Ventoso: “You might say Castilla y León is my ‘talisman race’. This is my 5th stage victory in this tour and it seems like I’m really suited to it. In principle, I was going to ride Paris-Roubaix, but Eusebio Unzué chose to make a last-minute change in my calendar and switched it by Amorebieta and Castilla. It seems like he has a magic wand, because it has proved to be a wise move. Amorebieta might have been a little bit too hard for me and there were teammates that were doing better than me from País Vasco, but it was good for my competition fitness. The team was sensational again today. At the team meeting, we talked about trying to split the group in the last slope. At the race, our road captain Pablo Lastras made it hard to try and drop the Rabobanks or, at least, making them summit too far and thus getting impossible to reach the front. Tondo kept the pace and we accomplished the objective. In the final straight, I made the sprint a bit too long because wind was blowing on our heads. The sprinter from Sky had to launch it from really far because he had no teammates, and I was forced to start it alongside him. Now it’s time to enjoy the success, which I want to dedicate to my teammates as usual. They were perfect again. We have to think about tomorrow. I already won in Salamanca in 2007, it’s a slightly uphill sprint that suits me well. We’ll try to be up-front again tomorrow.”