Mauricio Soler confirmed the good feeling he left on Saturday during the prologue of the Tour de Suisse and showed once again what he’s made of into the mountains by winning in Crans-Montana, ending point of the 147km route of the race’s first road stage, including the climbs of Nufenenpass (HC) and Aminona (Cat. 1). The Colombian, who also seizes control of the race leadership, gave Movistar Team their 15th victory of the season and breaks a streak of almost four years without scoring a success.
At the foot of the final climb, with its summit only nine kilometers from the finish, a duo formed up by Frenchman Lloyd Mondory (ALM) and Spanish road champion Iván Gutiérrez was into the lead, the two attacking into the first descent and taking a 100km effort to fruition that proved the Spaniard’s big fitness at the moment. The escape came to an end halfway into the uphill, the group of favourites breaking into pieces as Movistar Team also saw good performances from a notable José Joaquín Rojas -who only surrendered with three kilometers from the top- and a remarkable Branislau Samoilau. Soler, really attentive to the moves by the GC favourites, made a first attempt just before the flamme rouge and launched his final attack into the final thousand meters to eventually open a 12-second gap that allowed him raising hands solo and take the yellow jersey.
Mauricio Soler: “I’m really happy, this is an important win for me because this is a top-ranked race and, specially, because I had spent four years without winning and I was in need for it. I haven’t raced since the Vuelta a Castilla y León, when I went back to Colombia to train. The season start was difficult due to the crashes and physical troubles, but I had done already 30 days of competition and the first two weeks home were recovery time, in both mental and physical aspects. The last three weeks worked wel for me and I felt myself really well in the last days before coming back. We fulfilled the team orders and had made sure previously that, if we had a chance, we had to try before the final kilometer. The group had got split a lot and I made a first move, but the good one was the second. I knew it was the moment because, if I came to the finish with riders like Di Luca, I would not stand any chance in the final 300m. But at the end it all went good: the stage win and the jersey. This has just started and it will be difficult to keep the yellow jersey, but I have a strong team and we’ll try to stay on front. My victory and leadership are dedicated to Xavi Tondo. He’s not with us anymore, but he’s still in our thoughts. Apart from an excellent rider, he was a big friend of mine.”
Erviti keeps Movistar Team’s combative spirit in Dauphiné closer
In turn, the 2011 Critérium du Dauphiné ended on Sunday over the slopes of La Toussuire (Cat. 1), after a high-mountain, 119k ride including the ascent to the Col de la Croix-de-Fer (HC), more than 2,000 meters above sea level, where Spaniard Joaquím Rodríguez (KAT) repeated Saturday’s victory with a late move. Movistar Team-wise, Imanol Erviti kept Yvon Ledanois’s group attitude high after good manners on Saturday, the Navarran making a 9-man attempt that could only be caught halfway into the ascent to the Glandon.