Catalan allrounder takes 5th in Barbate; overcomes team-mate Landa (6th in GC) and Astana's Sánchez, Fuglsang to reach third overall. Andrey 6" short for day's win by De la Cruz (SKY); Movistar named best team in Andalucía.
It was a great end to the Movistar Team’s participation in the 64th Vuelta a Andalucía, only missing out on a stage win to round off a fantastic race from the lads directed by José Luis Arrieta and Chente García Acosta -named best team of the 2018 Ruta del Sol-. Marc Soler took another firm step forward in his progression as a stagerace contender, and shifted expectations to get onto the GC podium (3rd) after the TT showdown in Barbate (14km), which included six kilometers of dirt roads in the La Breña forest park.
Soler took 5th in the day and overtook team-mate Mikel Landa -who finished the race in sixth place- and Astana duo Luis León Sánchez / Jakob Fuglsang, only 3″ behind. It’s the Catalan’s third GC podium as pro, after his runner-up finish in the 2016 Route du Sud and the 3rd place in the 2017 Volta a Catalunya, the 24-year-old coming just 9″ short for the stage win, notched up by fellow countryman David de la Cruz (SKY). In turn, a fantastic Andrey Amador finished in 2nd place (+6″) to enter the final top-ten (9th overall).
REACTION / Marc Soler:
“I’m really happy. This was my first stagerace after coming back from the Tour Down Under in Australia, and I’m really satisfied with the result. I knew I was in good form, really willing to do well, but I’m still a bit surprised that I could beat all of my rivals for the GC podium. I’ve worked hard to improve on time trials, changing some minor details, and it seems like I’m on the right path. TTs have always suited my conditions: I’m a tall guy with good power for such efforts, even though I’m still lacking some raw technique that I hope to progress on, in order to make this a strong part of my abilities. The team did a sensational work all week, with Barbero fighting for sprint victories; Imanol, Héctor and Jorge keeping the group well protected; and Landa, Andrey and myself trying to be in a good position in the mountain stages. My next goal will be Paris-Nice; my calendar for March will be the same as last season, going to Catalunya afterwards.”
Picture (c): Luis Ángel Gómez / Photo Gomez Sport