Vuelta a Castilla y León (s3)
Best team in the race turns GC upside down, takes with Javi Moreno the long-searched, deserved final victory to honour Xavi Tondo, the race’s latest winner to date
After the victories by Rojas and Visconti on Basque soil and Ventoso in France last week, Movistar Team added a digit to their victory account -now in 10- for the 2012 season thanks to the success achieved by Javi Moreno in the Vuelta a Castilla y León, ending in Segovia on Sunday. The Andalusian rider notched up a last-minute win after superb teamwork by their team-mates in a race again disturbed by bad weather, with the squad directed by José Luis Arrieta playing the winning role all day.
The squad sent Plaza and Karpets into the opening breakaway early in the day, with 20 riders making the front after the downhill of Navafría, the first of three Cat. 1 climbs in the Madrilian sierra -Morcuera and Navacerrada still coming after that- on the day’s programme. David Arroyo would join the group at the second descent, few kilometers before the team launched the attacks in Navacerrada, with Cobo and Pardilla trying to drop the race leader Luis León Sánchez. The Blues finally succeeded with 2k from the summit, with Moreno responding to a great leadout by Arroyo to enter the break along with Levarlet, Urtasun, Toribio, Machado, De la Cruz and Parra. From that point, a team trial started for the three Movistar Team riders on front to open a gap on the peloton and squeeze Moreno’s chances. Javi was then able to drop Levarlet (SAU) and Urtasun (EUS), his main contenders for the GC, in the final, cobbled climb in Segovia, and thanks to the 6-second bonus at the finish, took the last grey jersey. A victory Movistar Team searched relentlessly for all three days in the race so as to honour Xavi Tondo’s memory, the last winner of the race being given homage in the last stage, something their team-mates couldn’t cope any better as they made the podium as the individual and team winners of the most especial race for the telephone squad.
Javi Moreno: “It was a tremendous joy, because I didn’t even know I had won when I crossed the finish. They told me a couple of minutes later and it was a true emotion. I wasn’t really concerned about Levarlet and Urtasun at the finish; instead I was looking for the win, because I knew the bonus seconds could bring me the overall. It wasn’t a finish for me, but I had to crown all work done by my teamm-mates. The bad thing is that, with 500 meters to go, I had to go for two riders jumping before the sprint, and I lacked that bit of energy to win the stage. It was a really hard day due to the weather, but everything went really great. The plan was getting riders into the break and me bridging at the climb of Navacerrada. Luis León kept my wheel for 500m when I attacked, but then I saw him dropping and went on full steam to catch Arroyo back, so he could bring me into the group. After that, my team-mates gave everything they had so they couldn’t catch. I have no words to thank my mates for their help. This is my most important victory. I won in Asturias last year, but the field was stronger here, plus it has a special meaning thanks to Xavi Tondo. We came here with the intention to dedicate him a victory, and we did it. I have spent the start of the season helping Alejandro and my team-mates, something I’m really happy to do, but we were a bit more free here and I profited from that. Now I hope to keep this form alive in Rioja and Asturias, my next races.”
Photo (c): Rafa Gómez / Ciclismo a Fondo