Spanish duo battle out within top contenders at bunch sprint, won by morning favourite Niccolò Bonifazio (TDE). Queen stage coming up in San Martín de Valdeiglesias on Saturday.
In such a race like the 32nd Vuelta a Madrid, with no bonus seconds and the GC likely to be contested into position countback at the end of its three stages, the Movistar Team was focused on achieving two goals at Friday’s 161km inaugural stage around Aranjuez: skimming off the field of contenders and putting two of its riders -Carlos Barbero and Edu Prades- into the leading places of the inevitable bunch sprint.
The Telefónica-backed squad picked up the pace at the front of the leading group near the final categorized climb, Chinchón (Cat-3), to make things harder into a final section with no significant winds. Barbero launched a very early sprint, under the 300m banner, to eventually take fifth place, behind Niccolò Bonifazio (TDE), Enrique Sanz (EUS) and Arkéa duo Clément Russo + Maxime Daniel.
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In turn, Prades took 15th place, also inside a peloton containing the other five Blues – including Rafa Valls, who finished in the bunch in his first day back after injuries during Paris-Nice. The Vuelta a Madrid will tackle its toughest mountains on Saturday’s 164km stage two around San Martín de Valdeiglesias, yet with just one Cat-3 climb near the end.