Vuelta a Murcia (st. 1)
World Champion from Movistar Team finishes behind Astana trio Bilbao (1st), Fraile (2nd), Sánchez (3rd) after group ambush -alongside Rubén Fernández- before San Javier’s finish.
A brutal group acceleration turned the tables during a fast-paced stage one in the 2019 Vuelta a Murcia, 188km from Yecla to San Javier with the late ascent to the Cabezo de la Plata (Cat-3).
A seven-man breakaway, with Alejandro Valverde and Rubén Fernández alongside Patrick Konrad (BOH), Omar Fraile, Luis León Sánchez, Pello Bilbao and Jakob Fuglsang (AST), left behind the fastest men in the bunch and opened a 30″ gap into the wind-exposed zone near the finish, with MTS, CCC and TKA unable to bring the group back.
The one-two punches from AST, using their strength in numbers, forced Rubén -still KOM leader after the end of the stage- to sacrifice himself for Valverde, who eventually took 4th, behind Fraile and Sánchez, into a group after stage winner Bilbao. José Joaquín Rojas was 11th at the second main group, which also featured Héctor Carretero.
The World Champion and his team-mates will try to turn things around in Saturday’s Queen stage of the revived Spanish stagerace, Murcia’s Gran Vía as end of a 180km trek with the notable climb of Collado Bermejo (Cat-1) and the Cresta del Gallo (Cat-2) along the way.
Cover picture (c): Photo Gomez Sport