Basque climber snatches Vuelta a Asturias opener in Pola de Lena, opens account in Movistar Team colours
Igor Antón completed a brilliant Saturday for the whole Movistar Team by taking the win this afternoon on stage one of the Vuelta a Asturias, over 149km with a Cat-3 climb, two Cat-2 and a Cat-1 -La Cobertoria- in a really demanding course covered at just 33kph average. The Basque rider took the Jaimerena-directed team's strategy to fruition after controlling an early break by Antonio Molina (CJR) and Jesús del Pino (BUR) from the very start.
Taken down through the first passage of La Cobertoria, the second one caused real selection, with domination in numbers by the Movistar Team riders in all moves. Antón made a four-man escape which reached the summit on top, with Belda (BUR) jumping as the group stopped pushing into the non-categorized Cuchu Puercu. The Galdakao-based cyclist reacted quickly and soon got to Belda's wheel, the Spaniard suffering a crash in the finale which made Antón come solo with a 14-second gap over Txurruka (CJR, 2nd).
Jesús Herrada's third spot (29" back), with Javi Moreno in fifth (36" behind), completed a Blue festival in the opening day on Spanish soil, the race set to be decided tomorrow in Oviedo after 176km full of short climbs from Soto de Ribera. Igor Antón will start the day in light blue as GC leader
REACTION / Igor Antón: “I really needed a victory like this one, after so much suffering. I needed to be happy, being able to dedicate this to my late mother, and also remember a third person, Lastras, whom I hope he'll recover well after his injuries. More than feeling vindicated, which wasn't a real goal here, it was more about finding myself on the road, being happy again, having a good position into the bunch. I might have got into that path again, after giving everything myself to change things but not having my body responding to that, due to lack of health or pressure put on by myself. This really helps me a lot at this time of the season. Already in Castilla y León and País Vasco I went into a good momentum, and this is a step forward.
"We had full responsibility from the start. Everyone had their share of work today. We were few of us left into the first passage through La Cobertoria, and the finish was difficult and dangerous. We shared the work with Caja Rural there since a Colombian, Rubiano, had gone away. I tried to save as much energy as possible to snatch the victory, because contrary to Castilla y León, I might have spent a bit more than I should. Through the last ascent of La Cobertoria, Belda, Bravo, Torres, who was really strong, and myself escaped. At some other slope, Belda and myself opened a gap. The downhill was really dangerous, I even had a fright myself. There was that 'limit', when we almost crashed, which Belda did – that allowed me to get to the finish solo."