Catalan climber - supported by Rubén Fernández into 17-man, first victorious breakaway in the Vuelta - fights for the Blues' first success in this year's race
The quality and resilience of Rubén Fernández and Marc Soler (Movistar Team) was evident at the 17-man break that contested the day's win on stage five of the Vuelta a España, 176km between Benicàssim and Alcossebre. The young Murcian, still suffering from pain in his right foot, helped out his team-mate by picking up the pace with several accelerations into the Alto de Serratella climb (Cat-2), trying to make for a harder finish that helped the Catalan pave his way to success into the slopes of the Ermita de Santa Lucía.
However, a series of attacks into the fast approach to the last climb -initially from Mohoric (UAD), Haller (KAT) and eventual winner Alexey Lutsenko (AST) at the Serratella descent, then with Gougeard (ALM) and Kudus (DDD) on the flat prior to Alcossebre- made things significantly harder for Soler. Marc started the climb with almost one minute's deficit on the leaders – and ended up at 56" from Lutsenko, in third place, behind the Kazakh rider and second-placed Kudus.
Soler and his Movistar team-mates -with Carlos Betancur still in 16th overall after losing only 22" against the top GC contenders today– nevertheless have many chances ahead in this Vuelta, starting with Thursday's lumpy stage six (204km) from Vila-real to Sagunto, with five categorized climbs.
Marc Soler: "There wasn't any cooperation between the ones in the group when Lutsenko and Haller attacked, I think that was the key for us not being able to contest the win. It makes you angry to see that a lack of agreement into a group prevents you from winning a Grand Tour stage, but things just went this way, and we'll have to keep trying for the remainder of the race. My legs felt really better today. As I said before, I thought I would be getting into good form with some days of competition, and I'm feeling fine now. Let's see how everything evolves for me, there's still plenty to fight for in this Vuelta. We look at everything in this Vuelta as part of a learning process, and things are looking good so far."
Poitou-Charentes: Another top-ten finish for Barbero
Over at stage two of the Tour du Poitou-Charentes -186km from Saint-Savinien sur Charente to Roumazières Loubet-, Carlos Barbero took 8th place inside another sprint finish, selected by the high speeds into the final circuit, which Bouhanni (COF) conquered en route to the leader's jersey. Barbero was part of a 50-strong group which included Jesús Herrada, Castroviejo, Anacona, De la Parte and Bennati from the Movistar Team. The Blues will seek again for good results on Thursday's double sector, which features a decisive, 21km ITT in Neuville-de-Poitou.
Picture (c): Photo Gomez Sport