Astana takes top-three at first stage of Vuelta a Murcia
Feb 16 2019 06:27 am CET

Astana takes top-three at first stage of Vuelta a Murcia
Astana takes top-three at first stage of Vuelta a Murcia

Astana's Pello Bilbao has taken the victory of the first stage of the Vuelta Ciclista a la Region de Murcia while his teammates Omar Fraile and Luis Leon Sanchez took the other two spots of the top three of the day.

The first stage of the two-day Vuelta a Murcia was 188.8 kilometres long between Yecla and San Javier. Seven riders formed the escape of the day by attacking at the climb of the day of the Alto Cabeza de Plaza, including four Astana riders: Pello Bilbao, Omar Fraile, Luis Leon Sanchez and Jakob Fuglsang, and the World Champion Alejandro Valverde.

With two kilometres to go, Sanchez attempted a move but Valverde neutralised him. Bilbao had better legs and luck and managed to create a gap big enough to take the day's victory. Fraile and Sanchez were the fastest in the reduced sprint behind the winner.

"It is a very nice victory for me! Honestly, it was not easy to do the decisive move today, because it was supposed a day for sprinters," said Bilbao. "We have fast guys in the team, but maybe not for the pure sprint. So, this was the reason we decided to do the last climb really hard to try to reduce the group to have more opportunities in the final. The team did an impressive work on the climb and we did not expect to create such a small leading group. Anyway, we decided to continue going 100% until the finish line.

"In the end, when we realized we arrive in this group, we started to attack thinking on a stage victory. Luis Leon did a very strong attack, hard to follow, but Alejandro Valverde could close the gap. Immediately, Jakob made his attack, but he also was caught. My attack was the third one and I could get a small gap, which made me possible to arrive alone at the finish. So, for sure, it was an impressive teamwork and amazing team strategy at today’s stage. We can be proud of the result."

The last day of the Vuelta a Murcia will be 180.3 kilometres long from Beniel to Murcia.



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