The Vuelta a Burgos concluded with overall victory for Daniel Moreno (Katusha) and his team’s successful defence of the title won last year by Joaquim Rodriguez. Moreno won the opening two stages, both times beating Sergio Henao (Sky) on an uphill finish. Thereafter he finished in close contention on every stage. He also took the points jersey.
The team’s management confirmed that, despite a two-month lay off, Moreno was the man in form and he would be the leader of the squad going into this race. However, as he’ll be resuming his role as Rodriguez’s wing-man in the up and coming Vuelta a Espana, this was an opportunity to reward him for his past and future efforts to the team.
The real interest centered not around who won but how the Vuelta contenders performed two weeks before the race is due to start. I think it’s fair to say that the two Spanish WorldTour squads – Movistar and Euskaltel - will have been pleased with the form of their riders. Likewise, Katusha’s Spanish Armada and Rabobank.
Also of interest was the performance of the many young Colombians in the race, some of whom like runner-up Henao (Sky) will be riding the Vuelta, such as teammate, compatriot and Olympic silver medal winner Rigoberto Uran - albeit in support of Chris Froome. Henao’s fightback onto the podium on the final day was hugely impressive despite the strong support of his team after he’d fallen down the rankings the previous day having fallen foul of the echelons. Should Froome falter this duo are a more than adequate plan B.
Third-placed overall and last year’s Tour de l’Avenir winner, neo-pro Johan Esteban Chaves (Colombia-Coldeportes) – another, like Peter Sagan and Thibaut Pinot, born in 1990 – excelled in the steep mountains and won the difficult queen stage . He will have aroused much interest among the WorldTour teams. We’ve already seen Acqua & Sapone’s Carlos Betancur making the move next year across to AG2R La Mondiale. He might be the first but he surely won’t be the last.
Given the vertiginous parcours of this year’s Vuelta, I’m rather sorry Colombia-Coldeportes didn’t get a wild card as they would surely have animated the mountain stages rather better than, say, Argos-Shimano. Nonetheless I’m thinking the young Colombians warrant more of an in-depth examination and we’ll be putting that on the VeloVoices ‘to do’ list. [Time to apply for some overtime ... - Ed.]
VeloVoices was keeping an eye on the 23-year old Venezuelan Jonathan Monsalve (Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela), who rode in support of fourth-placed overall Franco Pellizotti to finish in the top 100. Movistar were top team and their man Sergio Pardilla bagged the KoM jersey, while Caja Rural’s Aitor Galdez won the sprints jersey. Sadly, no word on who was the best rider from Burgos!
Stage 1: Miranda de Ebro to Complejo Karstico Ojo Guarene, 135km
Dani Moreno (Katusha) just beat Sergio Henao (Sky) in a photo finish atop the Cat 3 Ojo Guarena climb to take the leader’s jersey in the race where he was runner-up last year.
Henao’s team mate Ian ‘Hard as Nails’ Stannard (Sky) was the last men left from a sizeable breakaway of 16 riders when he was taken back by Rabobank and Orica-GreenEDGE – trying to set up their sprinters – 5km from the line. Orica-GreenEDGE led into the final kilometre but Moreno came to the fore after work done by his teammates, including last year’s winner Joaquim Rodriguez, and launched his bid for glory with 300m to go. Matti Breschel (Rabobank) was third, followed by sprinters Allan Davis (Orica-GreenEDGE) and French national champion Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ-BigMat).
Stage 2: Circuit of Burgos, 159km
Another day, another stage for Moreno as he once more outsprinted Henao for victory on another Cat 3 climb, El Castillo, to keep a firm grip on the leader’s jersey. This time the 30-year old Spaniard finished two seconds ahead of the Colombian while Simon Clarke (Orica-GreenEDGE) finished third, a further five seconds back.
Again, there was an early escape but they were never given too much leeway by Katusha and they were reeled back in with around 14km remaining. Sky went to the front of the peloton on the approach to the final climb, setting up Ben Swift who launched an early attack only to be brought back by Moreno’s teammate Rodriguez, who provided the perfect launch pad to the victor 500 metres out. Giovanni Visconti (Movistar) brought home the leading group, nine seconds down on Moreno as the peloton had fractured on that last of three climbs of El Castillo.
Stage 3: Santo Domingo de Silos to Lerma, 159km
Breschel held off Bouhanni and Swift in the uphill sprint finale for his maiden victory for Rabobank, and his first for two years. The day’s break formed early in the stage and gained an advantage of around five minutes but Katusha worked steadily and pulled them back with 20km left. Jose Toribio (Andalucia), who was part of the day’s breakaway trio, was rewarded for his efforts as he took the King of the Mountains jersey. Moreno finished in the bunch to retain his two-second advantage over Henao with stage winner Breschel in third, nine seconds back.
Stage 4: Dona Santos to Ciudad Romana de Clunia, 170km
Stage four and the score was Katusha 2-2 Rabobank, with the latter winning another tough uphill stage this time with Paul Martens, who escaped from out of the leading group to finish ahead of race leader Moreno, who had won this stage in last year’s Vuelta. Clarke outsprinted Bouhanni for third place. Again, it was Martens’ first victory for almost two years.
The day’s early escape, which included the stage winner, was taken back with 28km remaining but then strong crosswinds caused havoc in the peloton leaving a leading group with 20 riders, including Moreno, Martens and Breschel. Juan Antonio Flecha (Sky) launched an attack, Martens bridged and then attacked again to take victory.
One notable absentee from the leading group was Henao, the rider lying second overall at the start of the day. Despite sterling work from his Sky team and Euskaltel, he was unable to close the gap to the leading group and dropped to tenth overall, 32 seconds off the pace. Breschel moved up to second at 13 seconds with former Giro winner Stefano Garzelli (Acqua & Sapone) third at 14 seconds.
Stage 5: Comarca Pinares to Laguna de Neila, 179.5km
Johan Esteban Chaves (Colombia-Coldeportes) took the final and queen stage on the summit of Lagunas de Neila, while Moreno battled to hold onto his cyclamen leader’s jersey by sprinting for the line to concede just 22 seconds and retain the overall, ten seconds ahead of runner-up Henao, with stage winner Chaves taking the final place on the podium. The young Colombian outsprinted compatriot Henao after they’d both been set up by Henao’s teammate Rigoberto Uran - a third Colombian – with a just a few kilometres of the final climb remaining. Euskaltel-Euskadi’s Igor Anton finished third, 11 seconds behind the winning pair.
Afterwards, Moreno confirmed that it had been a difficult day in the saddle:
This last stage wasn’t easy because it was very hard with steep climbing. In the end I suffered a little bit: when Henao attacked it was hard to follow him, but I had a good gap in general classification so I tried to managed it. Especially in the last part of the uphill I gave my best in order to gain some precious seconds while, during the stage, my teammates worked very hard to keep the breakaway under control. I want to thank my team, especially Purito [Joaquim Rodriguez]: he helped me a lot during this competition, now I’m ready to give my support to him during the Vuelta a Espana. I feel in a good shape, and he is too. I’m sure we will take some good results.
1. Daniel Moreno (Katusha) 18:14:12
2. Sergio Henao (Sky) +0:10
3. Johan Esteban Chaves (Colombia-Coldportes) +0:16
4. Franco Pellizotti (Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela) +0:50
5. Javier Moreno (Movistar) +0:58
6. Robert Gesink (Rabobank) +1:03
7. Giovanni Visconti (Movistar) +1:09
8. Eros Capecchi (Liquigas-Cannondale) +1:28
9. Igor Anton (Euskaltel-Euskadi) +1:29
10. Tom Dumoulin (Argos-Shimano) +1:43