Vuelta a España (st. 5)
Matthews (OGE) wins bunch sprint by the Lago de Sanabria in a stolid ride for the Movistar Team riders, keeping Valverde in 5th overall at the Vuelta
The end of the Galician depart brought calmness to the 2013 Vuelta a España, searching for the big mountains of Andalusia from Saturday. The 174km stage five between Sober and the Lago de Sanabria -with the Cat-3 climbs of Covelo and Padornelo plus a lumpy approach to the finish line- saw a five-man breakaway staying away and becoming difficult for the Omega and Orica squads, which could only chase them down with 5k remaining after the escape amassed a massive ten minutes. The bunch sprint was eventually won by Aussie Michael Matthews (OGE).
The Movistar Team riders always kept control of the situation and Alejandro Valverde was able to conserve his 5th spot overall without any problems. The Spaniard is still twenty-one seconds behind race leader italiano Nibali (AST) as he tackles two flat stages before the weekend: Thursday’s stage six, over 175km from Guijuelo to Cáceres, and Friday’s journey through Extremadura and towards the finish of Mairena del Aljarafe near Sevilla.
REACTION / Pablo Lastras: “It was an active start before the break got away – after that, we could have a bit of relax. Even if it might seem too early, the bunch is already struggling a kittle bit on day five of this race. This stage paid off so most riders could breathe a bit before the hard, upcoming days. I always say cycling is an endurance sport. Attractive finishes like the ones we had in Galicia leave some extra wear on the peloton, and it’ll prove important coming into the final days. We took that into account in our team and brought endurance riders to come in good condition into the final week, even though we’re not losing focus on these opening stages. We spend every dat up-front, trying to help Alejandro out as much as possible. It’s the turn for myself, Iván and Imanol at the moment; after that, it will be the place for the ‘archery’ team, as we say it: those who excel in the mountains. The key factor for Alejandro will be having good luck: he’s feeling strong, and should fortune respect him, he’ll do his best.”
Tour de Papier-Carbone
Two flat stages, two mass sprints, two victories for Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ) in the 2013 Tour du Poitou-Charentes. The Frenchman beat Fonseca (BSE) and Vantomme (CRE) at Angouléme after 182 kilometers where Movistar Team had the attacking role they lacked at Tuesday’s opening stage in Saintes. A hellish pace for most of the race -44kph average in the first three hours of racing- saw the riders directed by José Luis Jaimerena trying his way into two quality breakaways with Andrey Amador and Jesús Herrada (both unsuccessful), while Enrique Sanz developed a fine work in the lead-out for Fran Ventoso, who came across the finish in 9th place. Thursday will be the day of truth in France: a morning, road sector of 109km followed by a 23k ITT between Charroux and Civray awaiting for Alex Dowsett.