Rubén Plaza wins after a 115 kilometer solo
Rubén Plaza wins after a 115 kilometer soloThe last days of the Vuelta a España turned into a story of success for TEAM LAMPRE-MERIDA: At the end of the 19th stage Nelson Oliveira crossed the finish line in 2nd, and one day later Rubén Plaza crowned a solo over 115 kilometers with a stage win - the second win for the team at this year’s Vuelta a España.
With four category 1 climbs and an overall distance of 175.8 kilometers the penultimate stage of the Vuelta a España was another tough test for the athletes. After only a few kilometers TEAM LAMPRE-MERIDA’s Spaniard Rubén Plaza jumped clear of the peloton with another ten riders. After almost 60 kilometers a large group of 24 riders including Nelson Oliveira and Valerio Conti was about to catch up with the leaders. This was the moment when Rubén Plaza attacked on the second long climb. Soon he was riding on his own, but there were still 115 kilometers to ride on the way to the finish. Thanks to his strength in time trialling and MERIDA’s particularly aerodynamic REACTO TEAM road bike Plaza managed to keep his rivals at bay and stay in the lead of the race all the way to the finish. In Cercedilla he got to celebrate what was his personal 2nd stage win in one of this year’s grand tours and the team’s second stage win in this year’s Vuelta a España. On a side note, TEAM LAMPRE-MERIDA is the only team that has won stages at each of the three grand tours this year, which is another beautiful success in itself.
One day before the stage to Avila had been shaped by a large group of attackers as well. In the lead group was Nelson Oliveira who had already won the 13th stage. But this time the Portuguese rider could not match the pace of his fastest escape companions on the last climb, dropping out of contention for the stage win. But TEAM LAMPRE-MERIDA’s time trial specialist made good use of the descent to the finish to catch up with the first group of chasers, and he passed that group on the ascending finale on cobblestones. By finishing in 2nd Oliveira added another top10 result in a stage to his tally for this year’s Vuelta a España. In the individual time trial over a distance of 38 kilometers around Burgos, Nelson Oliveira had been the fastest rider in blue, fuchsia and MERIDA green as well, finishing in 8th. With Kristijan Durasek and Tsgabu Grmay, two more riders of the team managed to join lead groups repeatedly throughout the final, demanding week of the Vuelta a España. But they found no way to turn their presence in a lead group into a stage win.
While the stage racers were creating headlines at the Vuelta a España, other riders of TEAM LAMPRE-MERIDA travelled overseas to first compete in two one-day races in Canada and then proceed to the World road championships in the American city of Richmond. At the Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec Rui Costa and Diego Ulissi were the joint captains of the team. And indeed Rui Costa moved up into the leading positions in the finale, marking the wheels of the co-favourites from other teams. But the Portuguese rider had to let his fastest rivals go with three kilometers to go. From there Diego Ulissi moved up within the group of riders that were competing for the win. Colombian Rigoberto Uran surprised everybody with an early acceleration with one kilometer to go and he got a handful of meters with that. This was enough to claim the win while Diego Ulissi only came a few meters short, crossing the finish line in 5th.
70th Vuelta a España
19th stage: Medina del Campo - Avila, 185.8km
1. Alexis Gougeard, FRA, in 4:19.20 hours
2. Nelson Oliveira, POR/TEAM LAMPRE-MERIDA, + 0.40
3. Maxime Monfort, BEL, + 0.44
20th stage: San Lorenzo de el Escorial - Cercedilla, 175.8km
1. Rubén Plaza, ESP/TEAM LAMPRE-MERIDA, in 4:37.05 hours
2. José Gonçalves, POR, + 1.07
3. Alessandro De Marchi, ITA, + 1.08