Vuelta Aragón (finale)
Catalan allrounder & Movistar Team prevail in frantic final stage, GC open until final bonus sprint Zaragoza; Blues conquer their 11th success of 2019 by three seconds.
In a fast-paced (46kph average), eventful -crashed riders included Eduardo Sepúlveda, with no consequence, and Jesús Ezquerra (BBH), who abandoned the race while in the leader’s jersey-, vibrant final day, the 44th Vuelta Aragón was won by the Movistar Team with Edu Prades, who dug deep until the end with his five team-mates into a race which wasn’t decided until the last intermediate sprint of the 127km stage three, from Huesca to Zaragoza.
The Catalan allrounder, supported by all Blues over a route where crosswinds were key for the final events, launched a furious move for the 3″ bonus available at the last rush, 16km before the end, in the town of Villanueva de Gállego. There, Prades broke the tie which, once the race leader was forced to DNF with 50km remaining, persisted between Prades and Evgeny Shalunov (GAZ).
The sprint finish next to Zaragoza’s Torre del Agua was contested by faster riders than the GC contenders -with Pelucchi (ANS) claiming the honours-, so Edu’s 6th place over the line was more than enough to secure the men’s Movistar Team’s 11th victory in 2019. A success made possible by the commitment and quality by a phenomenal Marc Soler (8th in his return to racing), Sepúlveda (15th), Valls and locals Arcas and Castrillo, vital for a win on home soil.
REACTION / Edu Prades:
“The first thing I want to say is I regret really much what happened to Ezquerra. I’d have liked to have contested this victory against him, on equal terms. I’m so sorry that he crashed. It was a very nervous stage, where everyone wanted to stay near the front. We took advantage from the crosswinds to make the approach to the final bonus sprint harder – we really tackled it as if it were the real finish, because we knew it could come down to those three bonus seconds.
“Coming closer to the line, I kept in mind it wasn’t sealed yet, and that it would be more nervous because the sprinters were seeking for the day’s success while we were looking for the GC. However, I also hoped for those crosswinds to help us have a longer peloton before the final straight, not finding that much trouble to get into position. If I had been a bit closer, I even think I could have sought for the day’s win, yet this GC victory is already a big satisfaction in itself.
“Claiming this first overall victory in Movistar Team colours helps me continue those good results I snatched last year, showing that I’m as competitive as I was before joining the WorldTour. It would have been impossible to take it without the team-mates who were here – this goes to all of them, and also my family, my girl, everyone who supports me.”
Cover picture (c): Photo Gomez Sport