Swerve stops glorious streak
21 August 2012

Vuelta a España (st. 4)

A controversial maneuver at the front of the bunch causes a crash that affects almost all Movistar Team riders including Valverde, who is now still under a minute behind the leadership thanks to team's help and courage; Cobo progresses overall

After three days of magic in the beginning of the 2012 Vuelta a España, Movistar Team found the taste of disgrace today on stage four of the event, the second consecutive summit finish atop the Estación de Valdezcaray (Cat. 1) after a 155k trek starting at Barakaldo. A crash at the front of thhe peloton caused by a maneuver from the Sky team involved almost all riders from the telephone squad -only Cobo, Intxausti and Lastras came unscathed from the incident-, with Imanol Erviti –with multiple bruises and five stitches in his face- was the most affected. Moreno, Quintana and Rojas also fell, while Castroviejo and Alejandro Valverde were forced to put a foot on the ground. The race leader started since that point -just after the 40k to go mark- a time trial to chase the first group, which increased their speed at the moment of the crash and with whom he was losing more than a minute through the climb.

Supported by all his team-mates, the Movistar Team leader took another show of courage, and despite making the final climb alone, lost only 55 seconds over a group of favourites always including Juanjo Cobo, now into the best ten overall -with Rodríguez (KAT) on top- and ranking Valverde in 9th spot (36 seconds back) as Cobo sits in 11th, 47 seconds behind. The race will most probably get into a transition day tomorrow with stage five into a circuit loop in Logroño (168k) before two new mountain-top finishes on Thursday (Jaca) and Saturday (Col de La Gallina, in Andorra).

Eusebio Unzué: “We went to make a revision of the video footage with the jury because our riders were so angry. That’s one of those crashes that happen in cycling and I don’t think there wasn’t any intentionality, but I think there were enough reasons to wait, because everyone could see the race leader crashing, six of his team-mates… There wasn’t nothing at stake because the stage victory was for the escapees, so that’s why I don’t understand why being so cruel to take profit from the leader’s crash. I’m really disappointed with the attitude by the bunch and certain riders. I won’t reproach it because everyone does what he wants, but I was really deceptioned about this not being intended as a reason strong enough to show a bit of sportsmanship. I think that the correct thing was waiting, for the respect due to the leader and because it was done at similar situations in the past. I understand this is a sport too cruel at times, and some fair-play attitudes are a bit missing.

The team worked sensationally. They put their heart out to bring Alejandro back to the front, and he made a splendid climb as he lost less time at the finish than the one he was back on the leaders at the foot. I’m also satisfied by the improvements from Juanjo, who saved a hard day due to extreme heat. The pity is that one of the days we wanted to take less efforts ended up being the opposite.”

Juanjo Cobo: “I’m happy because I made it to the point where I though I’d be. It was a less explosive finish than yesterday’s, a climb with a flat ending zone that didn’t allow to open any gaps, and even though I’m still thinking my condition is not the best, I’m getting better and better, I was able to save this day and that’s important for me. Reaching this point was the idea I had before starting the Vuelta. I was afraid of the two opening summit finishes and even to the team time trial, where following my teammates was not easy. Getting through these first, important days with less than a minute’s loss leaves me satisfied and with strong moral for the remainder of the Vuelta. Many people was saying I was wasted, but I’m still confident about my chances. My condition keeps growing and I think I’ll end up, if not on the same condition as last year, at least with a level enough to keep up with the strongest guys.”

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