Vuelta a Burgos, in English

Esta semana estoy cubriendo la Vuelta a Burgos para Cyclingnews, in English. No tiene mucho sentido ocupar la primera página del cuaderno con crónicas de estilo expositivo, robándole hueco a textos más atemporales que pueden merecer más la pena, así que las dejaré en la última, archivados en el año 1013, cuando la Reconquista. De cualquier manera, aquí tenéis los enlaces para que quien esté interesado no deba rebuscar…

Etapa 1 Ponzi beats Ratto to the punch
Etapa 2 Keukeleire celebrates his new contract
Etapa 3 Keukeleire strikes again
Etapa 4 Roux gets stage win after Ratto is relegated
Etapa 5 Double success for Quintana on Lagunas de Neila

Vuelta a Asturias cancelled due to budget shortfall

Noticia publicada originalmente en Cyclingnews

Nairo Quintana’s preparation for upcoming Giro d’Italia at stake

The 58th edition of the Vuelta a Asturias, which was scheduled on the following weekend from Friday 2 to Sunday 4 of May, will not take place because of sudden economic problems which overcame the race organization, Club Ciclista Aramo, this week.

The race’s official presentation was set to happen yesterday evening, but it was cancelled by the Club Ciclista Aramo with a laconic press release that stated it was “not possible to announce the full details of the race due to unexpected problems arisen lately”.

Today La Nueva España, the Vuelta a Asturias’ official newspaper, was more specific and asserted the problems are “economic”. According to its information, the Asturian institutions “had committed to hand a sum of money, but haven’t confirmed it yet”, putting the race at risk. Other Asturian local newspaper, El Comercio, published today that Club Ciclista Aramo are short of 40,000 euro to make the race happen, and those were to be provided by sponsors which pulled out this week.

Nairo Quintana was set to be Vuelta a Asturias’ main star. Although the Colombian’s public statements contained doubts on whether he would take part in Asturias or the concurrent WorldTour stage race Tour de Romandie, he featured on the Spanish event’s official poster. Also, the general manager of Movistar Team, Eusebio Unzué, was reported to have confirmed Quintana’s attendance to Club Ciclista Aramo last week.

The cancellation of Vuelta a Asturias could mean Nairo Quintana would start the upcoming Giro d’Italia, the main target of his season, without having competed a single day since March, when he finished 5th at Volta a Catalunya. This would emulate the build-up of his breakout Tour de France, where he raced to the podium not having contested any event since April.

Quintana is currently preparing for the race at his home in Colombia along with teammate Jonathan Castroviejo. Both are intended to fly back to Europe this weekend. Asked for comment by Cyclingnews, Movistar Team DS José Luis Arrieta stated that not racing in Asturias “wouldn’t be a drama for Quintana performance-wise” and that a last-minute call for Romandie in order to test his condition before the Giro “hasn’t been considered”.

The decision of cancelling 2014 Vuelta a Asturias was taken this afternoon, after a long meeting where the members of Club Ciclista Aramo unsuccessfully tried to contact the Asturian institutions that allegedly removed its support this week. This cancellation means a disaster for Spanish cycling, which in 7 years has lost 67 of the 96 UCI Europe Tour race days it had in 2007.

Double success for Quintana on Lagunas de Neila

Crónica publicada originalmente en Cyclingnews

Nairo Quintana (Movistar Team) won the final summit finish to Lagunas de Neila, with enough of a gap to claim the overall classification triumph as well.

The Colombian had to fight on his own during the final climb, and against Ivan Basso (Cannondale), David Arroyo (Caja Rural) and Vincenzo Nibali (Astana).

Despite Basso’s rhythm, Arroyo’s attacks and Nibali’s will to defeat him hand-to-hand, Quintana stayed cool and launched his decisive acceleration under the red kite of one kilometre to go, in the steepest part of the climb, counter-attacking Nibali, who then faded.

Arroyo managed to keep a good pace to arrive second and claim the same position in the final GC.

“I’m so happy, everything went great today”, stated Quintana. “I had such strong rivals today. And I wasn’t scared of them, but I had doubts whether I could reach their level or not. My team worked hard at the head of the peloton and relied on me once again, which gave me confidence.”

Indeed, Movistar performed very well, spurred by the presence of manager Eusebio Unzué and having a solid contender for glory in the line-up. The blue squad controlled the race for the whole day, in defiance of the harsh parcours, with five categorized climbs in the final 65 kilometres, and the aggressive mood of the field.

It took one hour and a half of racing for a group of escapees to break free. They were Ben Gastauer (Ag2r), Amets Txurruka (Caja Rural), Robinson Chalapud (Colombia), Igor Merino (Euskadi) and Francesco Failli (Vini Fantini). The skirmish was caught with three climbs to go, but was still enough for Txurruka to secure the Mountains classification..

Visconti, Szmyd et al led the pack to foot of Lagunas de Neila, hardly disturbed by isolated attacks of Lluis Mas (Burgos BH) and Mikel Bizkarra (Euskadi). It was on the final climb that the battle heated up, with André Cardoso (Caja Rural), Paolo Tiralongo (Astana) and Cayetano Sarmiento (Cannondale) having a go before leaving the race up to the three men who stood in the podium of Giro d’Italia 2011 and Nairo Quintana.

The anecdote of the stage was provided by a TV helicopter which, during the final climb, flew too low and threw Mikel Landa (Euskaltel), Tiralongo and Sarmiento out of the road with its wind. Fortunately, there weren’t further consequences and the trio could rejoin and finish the race without much damage.

Keukeleire strikes again

Crónica publicada originalmente en Cyclingnews

After an impressive victory earned yesterday in the Roman Village of Clunia, Jens Keukeleire (Orica-GreenEdge) netted another stage win today in stage 3 of the Vuelta a Burgos on the short climb to Ojo Guareña. The nervous racing which preceded the uphill finish didn’t rattle Keukeleire as the Belgian rider, along with his team, kept control of the situation while attacks and counterattacks took place. In the final kilometer FDJ took over at the head of the peloton, working to set up race leader Anthony Roux for victory. Keukeleire, however, powered away in the closing meters, leaving Roux and Daniele Ratto (Cannondale) clearly behind for second and third respectively.

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Roux gets stage win after Ratto is relegated

Crónica publicada originalmente en Cyclingnews

Anthony Roux (FDJ) was awarded the victory on stage 4 of Vuelta a Burgos by the race jury. They relegated Daniele Ratto, who was the first across the finish line, because of irregular sprint. Roux, who was already leader of the race, sees his lead reinforced in the eve of the decisive summit finish which will be held on Sunday to Lagunas de Neila, a category 1 climb.

The final 300 meters of the stage, which otherwise had been rolling and even comfortable for most of the day, were intricate and narrow, with three turns including a final switchback where the finish line was placed.

Daniele Ratto (Cannondale) was the first to pass it, but was relegated by the jury because they considered that his behaviour was more dangerous than the finish itself. Ratto faced the closing meters occupying the first position of the peloton, and edged side to side between the turns looking for the perfect line. His moves forced Anthony Roux (FDJ) towards the barriers, clearly compelling the French rider to brake – the two even collided briefly, with Ratto taking his left foot out of the pedal in order to stay upright.

FDJ then filed a protest to the race jury which was upheld, and subsequently Roux claimed the stage victory, with Simone Ponzi (Astana) and Francesco Lasca (Caja Rural) the second and third classified riders.

This would have been Ratto’s his first victory since 2010, when he won GP Industria y Artigianato de Larciano in the Carmiooro-NGC outfit.

Meanwhile, Roux showed himself “content because of the win and conserving the leader’s jersey”, although acknowledged it was going to be “difficult” to keep it tomorrow.

Aside from the final 300 meters, a breakaway dominated most of the stage. Local Efrén Carazo (Burgos BH), Ricardo García (Euskaltel), Aritz Bagües (Euskadi) and Romain Hardy (Cofidis) were the four escapees. They lasted from the start of the race till 20 kilometers to go, when Pablo Torres (Burgos BH) and Jon Larrinaga (Euskadi) joined briefly before they was caught by the peloton.

Keukeleire celebrates his new contract

Crónica publicada originalmente en Cyclingnews

Belgian rider Jens Keukeleire (Orica-GreenEdge) earned an impressive victory in stage 2 of the Vuelta a Burgos in a short, tricky ascent to the Roman Village of Clunia. Keukeleire, along with his teammate Mitchell Docker, neutralized a move by Nairo Quintana (Movistar) in the last kilometer, and then Jeffrey Romero (Colombia) counterattacked, but his hopes were terminated when Keukeleire roared by for the win. Italians Rinaldo Nocentini (Ag2r) and Dario Cataldo (Sky) were second and third, while the fourth rider across the finish line, Anthony Roux (FDJ), took profit from the gap opened in the closing meters between the first group and the main peloton to snatch the purple leader’s jersey away from Simone Ponzi (Astana).

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Ponzi beats Ratto to the punch

Crónica publicada originalmente en Cyclingnews

The Italian Simone Ponzi (Astana) won the 139km opening stage of the Vuelta a Burgos, which was decided in an uphill finish at El Castillo de Burgos. Ponzi benefited from the work of his teammate Vincenzo Nibali, who tested his legs ahead of the Vuelta a España by setting the pace (and tearing the pack to pieces) in the final kilometer of the stage. When Nibali ceased his effort, Ponzi found himself in a close, man-to-man contest with Daniele Ratto (Cannondale), who tried to win by striking first with no reward except an unsatisfying second result. Katusha’s Sergei Chernetskiy, very inspired as he recently showed in the Tour de Pologne, took third place.

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