Vuelta a España (st. 14)
Ecuadorian from Movistar Team -14th in the stage, with Moreno in 18th- shines on the attack against the very GC contenders in Vuelta a España at La Pandera's slopes, following another late move by Marc Soler
The mountains were back in the 2017 Vuelta a España during stage fourteen -175km from Écija to the HC-climb Sierra de la Pandera- and so were the Movistar Team riders to the front, two of them on the attack in the finale. As the bunch got severely reduced to barely thirty units into the ascent of Locubín (Cat-1), just over 20km from the end, and as they unfruitfully sought to bring back eventual winner Rafal Majka (BOH), Marc Soler jumped away from the field tried to surprise both the escape and the main group.
The Catalan was caught at the demanding El Chaparral ascent (Valdepeñas de Jaén), just before the Pandera, by a group whose combined efforts by Bahrein, Trek and Quick Step were continued by a late push from Astana. The bunch, though, still included two other Movistar Team members in Dani Moreno and Richard Carapaz. While the Spaniard kept his own pace all over the ascent to finish 18th in the day, 1'49" behind Majka, the Ecuadorian went on his already-classic attacking style, leaving the GC group behind with 4.5km from the end and staying for some minutes alongside household names like Chaves, Nibali or Contador. Later dropped by the main group, 'Richie' finished only forty seconds behind race leader Froome (SKY), 14th at 1'18" from the day's winner.
The squad directed by Chente García Acosta and Pablo Lastras has another huge mountain stage to tackle tomorrow, in what's considered the toughest of the three Andalusian days in big heights. Only 129km are scheduled on Sunday, yet with a monstruous finale through the Alto de Hazallanas (Cat-1), with a difficult approach, the Alto del Purche (Cat-1) and the Alto Hoya de la Mora (HC), a Sierra Nevada road that will take the riders over 2,500 meters above sea level at its summit.
Richard Carapaz: "It was a very hard stage. I'm not one who copes really well with heat, but we managed to keep our powder dry and stay with the top contenders in the finale. I wanted to give it a try because I knew I had the legs to be up there, and the whole team wants to seek for success in order to bounce things back. We know it will be hard to get a stage win in this Vuelta with what's left, but we hope that the conditions align so we can take these efforts to fruition – all of our team-mates deserve it so much. To me, everything has been a surprise so far. I wasn't even expecting to ride this Vuelta. Thankfully, with my performances all over the season I was granted a chance, and I feel so happy to be helping the Movistar Team out as a payment for their confidence. We've been improving day by day in this race, and that's what keeps us fighting for our goals at this point of the race."