Movistar Team climbing duo fights until very end for stage win, ultimately claimed by 2018 race victor Iván Sosa (INS).
Iván Sosa (INS) was the strongest into the first of two mountain finishes in the 2019 Vuelta a Burgos, the climb up the Picón Blanco (HC) after 150km starting in the village of Sargentes de la Lora. The Colombian beat Óscar Rodríguez (EUS) by 17″, with an excellent Antonio Pedrero (Movistar Team) in 3rd place, 24″ back, confirming yet again his huge step forward this season.
The Telefónica-backed squad took command of the peloton through the Retuerta (Cat-3) climb, picking up the pace with Jorge Arcas, Imanol Erviti and a superb Eduardo Sepúlveda, who kept pushing until the last 4km of the climb. The subsequent selection by INEOS left barely ten riders ahead –Pedrero and Richard Carapaz within those-, before Sosa’s attack with 2km remaining left only the Blue duo with him to contest the stage.
Carapaz eventually lost contact near the end and crossed the finish in 6th place, 37″ down on the winner. That will be -provided the lack of bonus seconds in the race- the margin he’ll aim to make up on Saturday’s Neila showdown, as Pedrero sits in a provisional podium with his 3rd place overall. Friday’s finish will again require attention from the GC contenders, as the last two kilometers are uphill towards the ‘Roman City’ of Clunia.
BinckBank Tour: Verona fights near the front
In turn, Tim Wellens (INS) took his third consecutive victory under the rain in Houffalize, the traditional Ardennes finish of the BinckBank Tour, which held its lumpiest stage on Thursday over just 96km, yet with a dozen steep hills in Wallonia. The Belgian bested Marc Hirschi (SUN) into a milimeter sprint, after leaving behind inside the final lap a selected peloton where Carlos Verona (Movistar Team) was able to hold the pace until the last 40km.
The Madrilian spent the late part of today’s course chasing a first pursuit group. His effort, unfortunately, was fruitless as he had to content himself with 24th place, 2’18” behind the winner. It was a good fight, nevertheless, by the Spaniard before the decisive stages in the weekend -an ITT in The Hague before the traditional ‘De Ronde’-like circuit in Geraardsbergen-. Friday, though, will be another chance for the sprinters in Venray (191km).
Cover picture (c): Photo Gomez Sport