Vuelta a Castilla y León (st. 2)
Spanish road race champion dominates stage two in Castilla y León, claims his third success of 2016 and Movistar Team's so far this year. Bala now 3" behind team-mate Carlos Betancur on GC before Sunday's Candelario mountain-top finish
Controlling, pushing, attacking, winning. The race strategy went all to perfection for the Movistar Team and Alejandro Valverde on stage two of the Vuelta a Castilla y León. While successfully defending the leader's jersey with Carlos Betancur, the squad directed by José Luis Jaimerena and José Luis Laguía worked hard to ensure Valverde had the best position to seek and claim his third win of the season. At the end, it was sheer domination for the Blues.
The start of the 170.6km trek from Bragança to Fermoselle was again soaked by rain, at least during the Portuguese stretch of Saturday's racing. Ever since the first climb of Rosas (Cat-3), Jorge Arcas started pulling at the front to keep the early break on a leash. The Aragón-based rider's work was crucial so the telephone squad could develop the pre-race strategy once winds picked up its intensity after the Alto de Vimioso. Into the plains, the Movistar Team profited from crosswinds to split the peloton twice, leaving only 30 riders ahead. The Blues' strength was so definitive that the two main pelotons were two minutes apart at the 20-kilometer-to-go banner. No chance was left for those behind.
Valverde's time came on the foot of the Alto de Fermoselle (Cat-2). 'Bala’ jumped off the front with Carlos Barbero (CJR) and later dropped his fellow countryman, opening a 30" gap across the summit that increased to 51" over the finishing line. Courage and class brought the Movistar Team their 10th win of the 2016 season, as they kept Carlos Betancur on top of the GC with three seconds over Valverde. The Blues' sweep of the leader in the standings so far was complete with Winner Anacona, 5th overall, and José Joaquín Rojas, 3rd today and 6th on the overall classification. Still, anything is decided yet: the Alto de la Plataforma's (Cat-1) slopes will still allow for major changes tomorrow. Will we succeed?
Alejandro Valverde: “We could open some gaps again today, we remain in the lead with Carlos, I'm now second at 3"… things couldn't be better for us at this point of the race. Plus, tomorrow's finish is a good one for me – but we mustn't elaborate much on that, as we never know what could happen. I just hope that these two stages do well on me before Flèche and Liège, some racing form I needed. I also wish yesterday's awful weather doesn't bring any illness! Even more than the classics, I expect this to be a good preparation before the Giro. It will surely bring some morale up on me, so I can be afraid of none at the start. I'd love Carlos winning this race tomorrow – we'll see what we can do about that tomorrow."
Carlos Betancur: “The team was simply excellent; it makes one really happy to see how we controlled the race and won. We pushed for the entire stage, especially when those crosswinds formed up… and seeing Alejandro taking the stage win in such great style makes you happy to have spent the whole day at the front. I'm still in the lead and I hope I can do well on tomorrow's Cat-1 finish. For the time being, our performance this weekend has been fantastic."
Picture ©: Photo Gomez Sport / Luis Ángel Gómez