Vuelta a Burgos (st. 5)
Fernández gives it all into Burgos' mountain stage -following big teamwork by Gorka Izagirre, just two weeks after his TDF crash-, fights against top GC guys in decision day; young Spaniard finishes 6th, 16" behind race winner Contador (TNK)
When one gives everything he's got, nothing else can be done. Rubén Fernández left his impression again on the closing, queen stage of the Vuelta a Burgos, always at the fore of the elite group in the final kilometers of the 163km trek from Caleruega, a traditional route -seven difficult climbs along the way- which Movistar Team rider, then-Katusha Dani Moreno won last year en route to a fantastic 2015 season end.
Attempts from the Movistar Team followed one by one, all over the stage. José Joaquín Rojas tried his way into the early moves, yet his attack didn't stick. Later on, José Herrada to shake things up into the Cat-1 Pasil de Rozavientos. However, the most consistent move came as Giovanni Visconti joined fellow countrymen Scarponi (AST) and Brambilla (EQS) to tear the race into pieces with 31km to go. At the second ascent of the Collado (Cat-1), the bunch caught the trio as a selected group, including Gorka Izagirre and Rubén Fernández among other GC contenders, set an impulsive pace before the Lagunas de Neila.
Rubén was the last from the Movistar Team to lose sight of the front, resisting from a serious attack by Sergio Pardilla (CJR) with 3km to go before Alberto Contador (TNK) went into the 17% final kilometer to chase the overall victory by only one second against Pardilla and Ben Hermans (BMC). The Blues leave the 2016 Vuelta a Burgos with Rubén in 6th place -7th today-, and already think of the Tour de l'Ain, where Richard Carapaz will make his debut.
Rubén Fernández: “It was a beautiful Vuelta a Burgos, just as it is every year we race here. It’s a great test event before the Vuelta a España, and it’d be really worth having it as part of the WorldTour. Gaps were really so tight; at the team time trial, Etixx and us were just hundredths of a second apart, Astana only put three seconds on us – that’s why we kept in mind that everything would come down to today’s finish.
“The team worked impressively well; they really put a gamble on me 100%, not leaving any energies unspent in this finale. The last part, with the two climbs of Rozavientos, were really tough for us. As well Gorka, who set a demanding pace to create that decisive selection in the Collado with the ten of us, as the rest of the group really behaved well and took efforts to keep me saving energy for that final, brutal climb.
“In the end, I just couldn’t bear the pace by Alberto and the podium finishers; it’s been awful not to reward my team-mates with some success but that final kilometer, with the 13% slopes after the turn right into the flamme rouge, made things really difficult. All in all, I’m happy with the last month of racing for me, together with Pologne – these legs should allow me doing well in the Vuelta, where I hope to be.”
Picture ©: Germán GDM / Vuelta a Burgos