Spaniard conquers impressive victory in Totana after long breakaway, seizes control of leader’s jersey as Movistar Team takes first stage win, 20th of the 2011 season
Superb, spectacular, impressive. There are no words to describe the victory notched up by Pablo Lastras in Totana, the finish of the third stage in the 2011 Vuelta a España. After 14 seasons as pro, seventeen in the teams led by Eusebio Unzué taking his amateur stage into account, the Spaniard had necessarily to be the man giving Movistar Team their maiden win in the Vuelta a España. Lastras not only sticked to that, but also put into the race’s red leader jersey -plus leads the Points, KOM and Combination rankings- in a glorious day whose outcome was deciding already in the opening phase, when Lastras escaped from the bunch with four others years whose company was left with a well-timed attack in the last stope of the Cat 3. Alto de La Santa, just 13k from the finish line. After that, a pure time trial to the finish line in Totana, his arms pointing to heaven for Xavi Tondo and bursting into joy for everyone into a squad -already leading the teams’ overall- that, despite all disgrace suffered during the season, has already earned 20 wins throughout the season.
Pablo Lastras: “At the breakaway, I took care overall about not forgetting to eat; experience makes you manage these situation. I lost stages in the Giro, the Tour, the Giro di Lombardia… today the stage went just as we expected beforehand. I rode it like a classics and it went so well. I might lost thiry minutes tomorrow, but it doesn’t matter. Today was the day for it. Chavanel being the main rival into the break? No: if I learnt anything in cycling is that you can’t never rule out any rival into a breakaway, you can’t doubt. Maybe that’s why I took such important victories. The leader jersey is a fantastic reward to my entire career. I’ve spent 27 years on a bike and this is a big prize, but I always saw that my biggest win was the one in the 2001 Giro. I had spent four years as pro, with no luck, and that victory changed myself. Another Pablo “Penkas” was born there. However, it’s true that this victory was the most emotive one, because I had time to celebrate and remember so many people. The first gesture was to make a cross and thank life for everything I have, that’s something my mom teached me; the second one, to the sky, in memory of our Xavi Tondo and also Weylandt. And last but not least, my bracelets, my amulets, which represent everyone that loves me and takes care of what I do. Riding so many years as pro has no other secret but taking care of your body; if you do that, it responds well. I saw riders like Vasseur or Guesdon who had snatched victories within a 10-year space, and I thought: ‘Why not myself?’ My goal was winning a stage in the Giro and I was really close to that but, to be honest, I prefer to have won in the Vuelta.“