Vuelta a España (st. 10)
Spaniard from Murcia (2nd) bested by Trentin (QST) on home soil in Murcia after great work alongside Soler (6th) inside fought break, which finished 40' ahead of schedule
Yet another close call for the Movistar Team in the 2017 Vuelta a España. The telephone squad's consistency, still seeking for a maiden stage win in this year's race, was again proven on Tuesday at a very tough stage 10 in Alhama de Murcia, where José Joaquín Rojas tried to put the terrain's knowledge at his favour on the slopes and descent of the Collado Bermejo (Cat-1). The man from Cieza eventually finished 2nd behind Matteo Trentin (QST), holder of the green jersey as best sprinter of the race, after shattering a 18-man breakaway formed only after two initial hours ridden at… 53.2kph average!
Rojas, joined by Marc Soler into the front group, formed with just 60km from the finish, was a leading factor for the big selection of that break into the slopes of the Morrón de Totana (Cat-3), where only the Spaniard, Trentin, Rosón (CJR) and Van Rensburg (DDD) survived. The four were basically together during the whole Collado climb, where Soler attacked from G2, alongside Alexander Geniez (ALM), to try and make it back to the front, an action which left him only 20" behind at the top. Into the technical, dangerous descent, Rojas tried several times to leave Trentin behind, and actually managed to drop Rosón and Van Rensburg. However, the final sprint by Trentin was too much for the Murcian, already 3rd at Friday's Cuenca finish.
The efforts by both José Joaquín and Marc (6th today, 58" down) have helped Movistar Team establish a strong lead in the team GC -almost 10' on Astana, 12' to UAE- before the big mountain-top finishes in the 2017 Vuelta start on Wednesday with Calar Alto (Cat-1). The 2120m-high climb in Almería will be the end to a 188km trek starting in Lorca, and also featuring the Alto de Velefique (Cat-1) in quick succession with the day's main and decisive ascent.
José Joaquín Rojas: "It was clear that Trentin was the worst contender we could fight for a stage against; he's the best sprinter in this Vuelta. Finding him through a Cat-1 climb, in the roads of Murcia, just next to your home… It's sad we didn't really have a chance today. As we've said many times during this race, we must not stop trying, and for the moment we've snatched two third places, this second… We must continue to think that tomorrow's stage will be the good one. I had things planned on my mind, I knew what I had to do ebcause I knew the terrain, but in the end, I could only try to sneak a way past Trentin into the descent, because he was so strong on the climbs, and coming into a sprint we knew we couldn't beat him. However, we weren't looking at him in the first place as a real contender. Before the Collado Bermejo, I was talking to Pablo Lastras, who was driving the DS car next to the break, and we agreed that 'Luisle' could be our biggest rival, since he knew the climb and was one of the best riders uphill into that group. Once we saw Trentin was staying there, our only opportunity was dropping him into the downhill, but we didn't succeed."