Movistar Team duo takes 4th and 6th at Ruta del Sol's first mountain-top finish; race to be decided at grueling uphill in Alcalá de los Gazules, ITT in Barbate.
Dutchman Wout Poels (SKY) leads the 64th Vuelta Ciclista a Andalucía after outsprinting a group of favourites at the end of the brutal Alto de Las Allanadas climb, end of a short (140km), intense stage two, with lots of ups and downs from Otura to La Guardia de Jaén.
Poels detached himself from a selected GC group at the final slope of the ascent, with no less than twelve riders staying together through the 1km-to-go banners including two from the Movistar Team: Mikel Landa and Marc Soler. The Basque star -4th across the line- tried to pick up the pace with just over 2km remaining, looking to follow prior attacker Jakob Fuglsang (AST). In turn, Soler (6th) bravely sticked until the end to a group where Mikel always showed a good pedal stroke.
The Blue squad -which also got Andrey Amador (13th) inside a minute from the winner’s team- thus sits in good position overall before the two decisive stages in the weekend, with the steep finish of Alcalá de los Gazules (Saturday) followed by a 14km ITT in Barbate (Sunday). Friday, though, will bring sprinters back to the fore, with a mainly flat course (166km) from Mancha Real to Herrera.
REACTION / Mikel Landa: “The climb ended up being really demanding. The top guys were pretty much balanced when it comes to strength, plus we were looking at each other, controlling the moves, which made for a stressful one, too. You always want to win, but I think this result is something we must be happy about, staying with the top contenders in my first stagerace of the season, with people that have already won races this season. There’s another mountain-top finish on Saturday, but I think it should suit more explosive riders. I’ll of course try to stay near the front and not lose much time before the time trial.”
Picture 1 (c): Luis Ángel Gómez / Photo Gomez Sport