Vuelta a Asturias (st. 3)
Basque climber profits from another teamwork exhibition from Movistar Team -overall winning squad- to notch up the GC in the Vuelta a Asturias, 12th success from the Blues in 2012, on the slopes of the Alto del Naranco
Beñat Intxausti left definitely all bad moments from the 2011 season behind as he returned to the place of protagonism he always deserved to be at by winning the overall of the 56th Vuelta a Asturias on Sunday, the Spanish race being decided into the 167-kilometer Subida al Naranco, with up to seven climbs before the final ascent near oviedo. The Basque rider, 2nd at the finish behind Frenchman Rémi Di Gregorio (COF), was always well protected by an exceptional work from all his seven teammates from Movistar Team at the Asturian race.
Right from the start, the lads directed by José Luis Jaimerena kept the gaps with the day’s breakaway small; then, they increased the pace to reel the group back in and make the leader, Spaniard Alejandro Marque (CAR), struggled during the climbs of Muñó-Muncó (Cat. 3) and Robledo (Cat. 3); and finally, a superb labour from the last winner of the race, Javi Moreno, splitted the peloton up in the ascent towards the Violeo (Cat. 3) and left Intxausti and team-mate David López leading a five-man group of favourites into the last downhill. At the Naranco, and after several attacks from their teammates, Intxausti escaped with Di Gregorio and fellow Cofidis rider David Moncoutié with less than 2k to do to crown his second pro victory and the telephone squad’s 12th success of the 2012 season, the Blues rounding it up with the teams’ overall.
QUOTES Beñat Intxausti:
“I think I deserved it already, after so many times trying and so many disgraces. I was saying to myself it was high time to win something important, and that day came today. I needed it, for myself, because winning again is important, but also to dedicate it to Xavi, because it’s something I desired to do so hardly for so much time. I came across the line in real emotion, remembering him and, obviously, this victory is a tribute to him. Also to my grandfather, who passed away last year and was my biggest fan. And to the team, too; they were the ones to support me in the worst moments and knew how to take me out of that. Asturias is a talisman race for me: here, I have claimed my two pro victories, and due to its route, dates, climate conditions… it was always a race I liked really much.
“We knew that the key today was El Violeo’s climb, because it had a tough 3k section and that was the place to make the race harder. The withdrawal by Izagirre left Marque as our biggest rival but, when we started the climb, Javi Moreno and David López went on full steam and we saw the leader dropping. There was just the two Cofidis (Moncoutié and Di Gregorio), De la Cruz, David and me up-front, plus Txurruka coming back after the descent. At the Naranco, I knew that the only one who could beat me was De la Cruz with the bonus seconds, and that’s why I attacked.”
“I spent 20 days in Navacerrada and, to be honest, I was doubftul about myself doing a good race here, even more focused on improving my condition for the Giro rather than contesting the GC. However, I felt really well at the first day and I just lacked a bit more of risk in the descent at yesterday’s ITT, because I lost there the six seconds I needed to win. We were able to complete a magnificent race for all the team and I’m super happy. This give me a great boost of moral for the Giro, it’s obvious. But I don’t want to get obsessed about the GC, and prefer to go day by day. The start in Denmark doesn’t suit me really much, and I hope to stay clear of problems there to enter Italy in a good position. A stage victory would be incredible, and also placing well in the overall, but now it’s time to enjoy this one.”
Photo (c): Rafa Carbonero / lavueltaasturias.com