Telefónica-backed duo leave rivals behind in Acebo climb, finish together in Cangas del Narcea to gain a decisive advantage in the overall standings before Oviedo's finale, Sunday.
The Movistar Team notched up an authoritarian victory on stage two of the Vuelta a Asturias, a 171km route from Soto de Ribera to Cangas del Narcea with the Alto del Acebo (Cat-1) as main reference for the best climbers in the field. Richard Carapaz (1st) and Mikel Landa (2nd) profited from excellent teamwork by his Blue colleagues from the start of the day to finish together, almost two minutes ahead of the nearest opposition to secure a comfortable advantage heading into Sunday’s showdown.
Héctor Carretero and Lluís Mas took command of the bunch in pursuit of a four-man break, caught right at the foot of the Acebo with 29km to go. In those early slopes, José Joaquín Rojas set a hard pace which left only twelve riders at the front, a selection further reduced to five men by Antonio Pedrero’s rhythm. An attack from Landa saw David Rodrigues (RPO) as only contender able to match Carapaz and the Basque, before both went together halfway through the ascent and opened a big gap on the pursuit, led by Alexander Vlasov (GAZ) and eventual third-place finisher Krists Neilands (ICA).
Richard’s win marks the eighth victory of the 2019 season for the Movistar Team, as well as the 4th pro success for Carapaz, who will aspire on Sunday, together with Landa -now 2nd, 8″ back-, to repeat his 2018 overall win after the Alto del Violeo (Cat-2), the last climb before Oviedo’s finish.
REACTION / Richard Carapaz:
“I’m so happy with this success – hopefully I can repeat last year’s double and bring the jersey home, just like last year. The whole team did really great today, and Mikel and I wanted to dedicate them that success – since this victory is not mine, it’s one for the two of us, for the whole squad. We wanted to finish together and hug each other to make them feel it’s one for and by the team. It’s also a huge boost of motivation before the Giro for the two of us, a very decent way to face the upcoming challenges.”
Tour de Romandie: Betancur hangs on to top-ten after Queen stage
In a quite colder, rainier atmosphere than Asturias’ took place a shortened stage four of the Tour de Romandie, with just 107km towards Torgon (Cat-1) as the UCI Extreme Weather Protocol scrapped most other ascents due to low temperatures and snow forecast.
On the attack early into that final climb with Winner Anacona, the Movistar Team riders were left back and down into a second echelon of favourites at the final slopes of the ascent, with attacks from the main contenders leaving just a dozen riders at the front. Race leader Primoz Roglic (TJV) took the day’s win.
Betancur and Sepúlveda reached the finish 26″ behind that first group, which leaves the Colombian in 9th overall, 57″ behind the yellow jersey, while the Argentinian sits in 13th, 1’09” down. Sunday’s 17km ITT in Geneva will settle the overall result.
** Tour de Romandie TT start times (Sunday 5th, all CEST): 13.09 Arcas, 13.19 Prades, 13.32 Castrillo, 14.02 Anacona, 14.16 Sepúlveda, 14.24 Betancur
Cover picture (c): Photo Gomez Sport