Vuelta a España (st. 1)
Movistar Team repeats success from Pamplona in 2012, takes Jonathan Castroviejo to the lead in Jerez after sensational performance -season’s 31st victory- grants them win in Vuelta’s opening TTT
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Just like in 2012, at home in the streets of Pamplona, the Movistar Team touched their dream at the start of the Vuelta a España and set one of their great domestiques, Basque specialist Jonathan Castroviejo, as the first leader of the 2014 race. The telephone squad rode brilliantly, in perfect order and picked up their own pace through the 12.6km TTT in Jerez de la Frontera, a mix of urban, technical, dangerous sections and long straights, where the squad directed by Eusebio Unzué kept always all nine men together.
Until the very final straight, following a good intermediate check -2nd, just 5″ behind Cannondale Pro Cycling-, Castroviejo, Valverde, Amador, Erviti, Moreno, Quintana, Izagirre, Malori and Herrada -the latter two dropping just few meters before the end after fantastic efforts- rode like an only rider to take the blue and green of Movistar to their 3rd victory in team time trials since 2011, by six seconds over the finish line, plus the 31st success -just one short of their 2013 tally- by the Spanish squad in an already unforgettable season.
Movistar Team’s quest to keep the leader’s jersey will start with stage two on Sunday, the first road race of the Vuelta over 174km from Algeciras to San Fernando. Strong winds will be the main threat for a predictable bunch finish.
Jonathan Castroviejo: “We all nine rode to perfection. It was my honour to take the jersey, but this is a prize for the whole team – without my team-mates, it would have been impossible. Pamplona’s victory was a special one, unforgettable as we were home, but today the goal was doing it just fine, with no crashes – it might have indeed taken us to the win, not having made any mistakes. We talked about starting calm and staying focused, and it went perfectly. Though our goal was getting over the day, we didn’t only win: we also opened pretty significant gaps over our rivals. When you’re on into the race, you only think about going faster, faster until the finish. You don’t think about a second, two or three, you simply don’t look at it. I couldn’t have imagined I would be leading the race again. The jersey is mine now, but the goal is keeping it within the team. We will support Nairo and Alejandro all the way to the mountains, where we will see who of the two can do better.”
Eusebio Unzué: “It’s true that it didn’t seem like the best parcours for a team that has the overall victory in the Vuelta as their main goal, but we knew that, even without taking much risks, if we were able not to make too many mistakes, we could be into the thick of things. And, to tell the truth, all nine riders rode flawlessly. It was a route full of roundabouts – the easiest thing in such a course was losing the line after taking a turn, but it wasn’t the case. The boys rode perfectly and were able to keep balance – you couldn’t see who was taking the turns up-front, they were applying the same speed, and that’s why we won. We worked so much in the last three days to win today. We did the route twice this evening; three times in the morning; two and a half in yesterday’s first recon…
“We did pretty well in the first part of the race, but Cannondale must have been impressive out there. However, we knew it was the second half where we could profit the best from the strength of our group, and we bounced back from that small loss. It’s quite a blow to our rivals, and also a really special and beautiful win because these are the days where all riders get the same reward, they all step onto the podium… these are the victories I enjoy the most. It’s true that gaps are bigger than expected, and I think it was because the guys were perfect in those 12 kilometers. We didn’t have a plan on who would wear the leader’s jersey, but it was clear that it wasn’t to be one of our two leaders: we had to reward our great domestiques.”