Movistar Team will take the start of the Tour de France on Saturday really motivated, as the telephone squad closed their competitions before the Grande Boucle with a new victory, the one notched up by José Joaquín Rojas, who will wear the Spanish road champion for the next twelve months.
The Murcian beat Alberto Contador into the final sprint at Castellón after breaking apart with the triple Tour de France Winner in the final ascent to the Alto del Desierto de Las Palmas, where Rojas confirmed the tremendous performances made during the recent Vuelta a Suiza by sticking to the weel of Contador after his strong attack, dynamiting the championship as Movistar Team dominated throughout the race.
The squad directed by Eusebio Unzué had Pablo Lastras and Chente García Acosta into an early 10-rider break that counted up to seven minutes of advantage and allowed their teammates -Rubén Plaza within those, the rider from Alicante making it to the finale of the race four months after his serious crash in Murcia- riding more calmly behind. The second ascent to the Desierto de Las Palmas opened fire for the first real attacks, with Movistar Team always on front. Arroyo, Pasamontes, Fran Pérez, Madrazo… all made part of the front groups before the eventual attack by Contador took all adventurers down and left him into the lead alongside an impressive Rojas. Beñat Intxausti, one of the positive sidenotes of the day, even made it to third place solo, but the descent to the finish took a pursuit group of fifteen riders with him to fight for the bronze medal -Rojas beat Contador with no troubles into the final sprint-, with Movistar Team taking places with an amazing Herrada -4th at the road race, 5th at the time trial-, Madrazo (5th) and Lastras, who still had forced after his long breakaway to take 6th into the group, where David López and Intxausti himself completed the Blue festival.
COMMENT José Joaquín Rojas: “This has been a really emotive victory. It seems like we’re having a streak of bud luck with all all disgraces suffered, but we’re still taking really important success. This one can only be dedicated for those two people: Xavi Tondo, who will surely feel happy up there, and Mauricio Soler, still recovering from his crash in Switzerland. I have always said I wasn’t only a sprinter, I feel more like a rider for one-day races like today’s, and I hope to keep improving this way. I showed my level was really high at the Tour de Suisse, and this victory was the confirmation of my form. We knew from the start that the strongest rider was Contador. He’s the best climber in the world, and so we tried to make the race difficult for everyone so we could make it with him into the key moment. We always had someone on front and succeeded, because they did not reach us until the last climb. I gave everything into the ascent to keep his wheel, because I knew there was some reward at the end. I never though we would be caught behind, because we were strong and got to good cooperation. The Tour de France? It’s obvious that this gives me more moral to achieve my goal: winning a stage. I made it to 4th place into the green jersey competition, which shows that I was on front, but I think there are some selective finished that suit me well too.”