Vuelta a Castilla y León (st. 3)
Spaniard victorious after a four-year unfortunate streak, takes Queen stage and overall at Vuelta a Castilla y León to continue Movistar Team’s record in the race
The last of 41 riders making it into the Queen stage within just 12 seconds, few were confident enough to bet on Rubén Plaza’s chances to win the 28th Vuelta a Castilla y León. However, the Spaniard has brought his pure class -double Spanish road champion, top-5 finisher in the Vuelta and the ITT Worlds- back to the spotlight after several years of injuries and claimed a convincing win atop the Parador in Cervera de Pisuerga, the hardest finish in this year’s Castilian stagerace.
The three-kilometer climb was preceeded by continuous ups and downs where Eloy Teruel always defended Movistar Team’s interests into the day’s break. After a thrilling day, Plaza proved to be the strongest by jumping from the elite group just after the 2km banner to keep a slender advantage that, combined with the bonus seconds, allowed him to claim the stage and the overall win. The rider from Ibi in Alicante extends this way the Blues’ domination in the event -Movistar also claimed the teams’ overall-, with the last three editions being conquered by a rider from the telephone squad -Tondo (2011), Moreno (2012), Plaza (2013)-, twelve in its 28 years of history.
Plaza took two seconds on Francisco Mancebo (5HR), seven on Carlos Barbero (EUK) and eleven over a first pursuit group led by José Joaquín Rojas -really regular all race, with fourth places in all three stages and a sixth in the overall-, and puts an end into a long unsuccessfull streak -his last victory came on stage six in the 2009 Volta a Portugal- lasting for already three years and a half. Now, after getting through a serious injury -a tibia and fibula fractured in 2011- and 1,340 days later, Plaza is back in winning ways.
REACTION / Rubén Plaza: “It’s been almost four years and, after everything I went through, it’s a massive victory for me. I knew my condition was good because I spent ten days at home after the Volta a Cataluyna, training well and taking some rest – all feelings were good, but getting from that to winning a race… it’s a really different thing… The strategy was trying to attack from the foot of the climb with Javi Moreno. He did jump twice, but couldn’t get a gap, and I profited from a quick stop by the field to try a move. I knew I could win the overall during the attack, because I saw Mancebo behind and knew he had scored no bonus seconds. For me, this victory means really a lot. It was almost a matter of honour, and I can’t deny I had lost confidence on winning again at some point – being the one I had got to be again seemed impossible. I’m the only one who knows how hard these two years have been. It’s been a huge pain in the ass, this injury – I almost had to start from zero, because I lost all muscle tone, and even today I think the leg is still recovering. This victory is kind of a light in the tunnel, a massive boost of confidence for me. I want to dedicate this to the surgeon that operated me, Ignacio Ginebreda, and physio Jordi Reig, who controlled my ehab. Without them, it would have been impossible to overcome that injury.”