Poitou-Charentes (st. 5)
Spanish champion claims fourth 2012 sucess at final stage of Tour de Poitou-Charentes, with Movistar Team -27 victories this year- winning their overall classification
Foto ©: velowire.com / Thomas Vergouwen
Winner of a stage in the Circuit de la Sarthe in April, on stage nine of the Giro d’Italia a month later and, most notably, the Spanish national road title in Salamanca last June, Fran Ventoso (Movistar Team) added a first notch to his scepter as red-yellow wearer in the final day of the Tour de Poitou-Charentes, over 188 kilometers between Melle and Poitiers covered at a hellish pace from the start. The bunch broke up after just 30km, with a 60-man group -featuring the Spaniard as well as Rui Costa and Enrique Sanz after a puncture by Iván Gutiérrez- over a second echelon from which Rubén Plaza, 6th overall, tried to bridge with no success.
The gap between the two group, which was over five minutes, got reduced to one-and-a-half at the final 26k of the ending city loop, when the hectic pursuit surrendered. Following numerous attacks in the final lap, Sanz and Costa led out the field sprint for Ventoso, who beat Frenchman Thomas Voeckler (EUC) with a small margin to claim the telephone squad’s 27th success of the 2012 season and -the Blues claiming the team’s overall, with Costa 5th overall- and the 31st by the Cantabrian in nine years as pro racer, the last three especially victorious: 9 wins in 2009, 4 in 2010, 5 in 2011 and 4 during this season so far.
QUOTES / Fran Ventoso: “It was a crazy stage from the start. There was an acceleration at a slope before the first intermediate sprint and we didn’t stop until the finish. Europcar and FDJ were pushing on full throttle and we had enough with just staying on their wheels. Despite staying at home with a flu last week, I was feeling pretty well these days, but my bad positioning was avoiding myself taking profit from those sensations. I knew the final circuit and I was concerned I would have a chance at the sprint, but there were a lot of attacks since the final climb with 4k from the finish, plus a very strong move from Voeckler at the final kilometer. Rui Costa starting pushing and approached him much to me. I don’t know how I managed to get past him. I’m really happy with this first victory in Spanish champion colours. Sometimes you feel strong, but results don’t come along and you get a bit nervous. This is good for my moral, for the team… for everyhing. I’m getting so many victories in recent years because I’m riding more and more calm and relaxed, and that’s the better way for results to show up. I still don’t know my season end’s schedule, but there’s definitely Plouay on Sunday. It’s a very hard race, but I’m feeling well and we have to try. The Worlds? It will rely on the national coach. I know it’s really hard, but I hope this result to help me. I am to his service and would be pleased to take part”.
Eighth place for Rojas in Alcañiz
In turn, José Joaquín Rojas led Movistar Team’s performance in the seventh stage of the 2012 Vuelta a España, over 164 kilometers from Huesca to the Motorland speedway in Alcañiz. The Murcian was 8th at a finish broken by furious pace, mechanicals and crashes in the finale, one of those affecting -with no physical consequences- Colombian Nairo Quintana. A puncture form Urán (SKY) in the closing kilometers allowed Alejandro Valverde and Juanjo Cobo jumping a place further in the overall, with the Murcian in 5th place while the Cantabrian sitted in 9th spot before the race’s fourth summit finish in the Coll de La Gallina (Cat. 1; 7.2km / 8%), into a 174km stage starting at Lleida and climbing past La Comella (Cat. 2).