José Joaquín Rojas keeps the leader jersey before two consecutive mountain-top finishes, following a superb teamwork show from his team-mates
Movistar Team is still in the lead of the 52nd Vuelta al País Vasco after a massive team-work from the seven riders protecting all race -165 kilometers from Güeñes to Vitoria- their captain José Joaquín Rojas. The Spaniard came in 4th position through the line at the final sprint of day two in the Basque race and keeps the yellow jersey following a race under cold weather and rain. Leading the bunch from the very first kilometers, the eight competitors from the telephone squad always kept under control the five-man break leading the stage until the final 14k. Once the attempt was neutralized, South African Daryl Impey (GEC) overcame the bunch in the final meters via a late attack, ruining the back-to-back-winning chances by Rojas, who still sprinted within the best and made his good positions count to keep the race lead. The course will now head into its two decisive, consecutive mountain-top finishes, the first of them being the arrival to the Santuario de Arrate in Eibar, a Cat. 1 climb of six kilometers and 8.5% average gradient, with six other categorized climbs on the 164-km route starting at Vitoria.
José Joaquín Rojas: “It was a really difficult day: with the rain, the termperature feel was really cold, especially in the downhill sections, but already since an amateur I got used to these temperatures in Northern races, so they don’t do bad at me at all. My team-mates were superb: they worked so the breakaway wasn’t really big and kept them always into a five or six-minute gap to keep it close, before the teams wanting a sprint took a turn on the front. All the team was A-plus today. At the sprint I opted to stay on Allan Davis’s wheel, because I thought he was the man to beat, but at the end they all were decreasing their speed, Impey jumped to the front and it was already impossible to catch him, because if I went for him, I’d be losing my sprint chances. Even though I was in good position, that stop made everyone gaining place and it was really difficult to get off there, even to take 2nd. You’ve got to say he deserved it: he played out his cards really well and was able to win. It will be a bit of rest tomorrow for me, but I want to pay back my team-mates for the work done for me, so another Movistar rider can wear yellow tomorrow, and I’ll try and stay again up-front in the stage to Oñati”.
Ventoso fights into La Sarthe opener
In turn, a second Movistar Team block started their particiation in the 60th Circuit de La Sarthe in France today. The first stage, over 192 kilometers from Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Ville and Riaillé, saw Russian Denis Galimzyanov (KAT) winning as Fran Ventoso finished in 5th place. The race will tackle its decisive day tomorrow, with a 87k morning sector to Angers followed by a decisive 7k time trial into the city streets in the evening.