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After having ridden tempo for most of the final climb, Da Silva joined Torres in a late attack before launching a race-winning acceleration; Diaz dropped Quintana in the finale and defended his lead

Photo: Sirotti

DANIEL RICARDO DÍAZ

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TOUR DE SAN LUIS

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24.01.2015 @ 22:55 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Kleber Da Silva proved that the Brazilian Funvic team is more than just race leader Daniel Diaz when he took a hugely impressive win in the queen stage of the Tour de San Luis. The Brazilian had ridden tempo for his team leader for most of the final climb but still had enough left to join Rodolfo Torres (Colombia) in a late attack before distancing his rival with 100m to go.

 

Until now, Daniel Diaz has proved to be in a class of his own on the climbs in the Tour de San Luis but today it was another Funvic rider that was allowed to shine when the rivals had the final chance of disposing the race leader in the queen stage. At the top of the mighty Filo Sierras Comechigones climb at more than 2100m of altitude, however, the Argentinean allowed one of his teammates to shine.

 

Diaz easily responded to an attack from key rival Nairo Quintana (Movistar) on the lower slopes of the climb and after the group had been briefly whittled down to just 3 riders – with Leandro Messineo (San Luis) being able to stay with the two main protagonists – several riders rejoined from behind. Despite having only 3 teammates at his side, Diaz was lucky to still have Kleber Da Silva at his side.

 

The Brazilian was asked to control the situation and he rode a steady tempo on the front for more than 5km of the 16km ascent. The pace wasn’t too fast and this allowed several riders to rejoin from behind until a 15-rider group had formed.

 

Apparently, no one dared to attack Diaz before Quintana moved to the front inside the final 2km. A number of accelerations ensued and when the main group passed the flamme rouge, only Quintana, Da Silva, Rodolfo Torres and Diaz were still there.

 

With the overall lead now secured, Diaz moved to the front to set his teammate up for a shot at the stage win and the Brazilian was quick to react when Torres launched an attack. The pair rode away from Diaz and Quintana, with the Colombian clearly being on his limit.

 

Da Silva briefly rested on Torres’ wheel before he made his own attack with 100m to go. Torres had no response and the Brazilian soloed across the line to take the biggest victory of his career. Torres took second a few seconds later while Diaz made a late acceleration to drop Quintana and take third on the stage.

 

Despite losing a few seconds to Torres, Diaz still leads the Colombian by more than a minute while Quintana is third. Barring disaster, the Argentinean will win the race for the second time in his career as the final stage is a mostly flat stage around San Luis. Only an early category 3 climb will test the riders before the Argentinean stage is expected to finish with a big bunch sprint.

 

The queen stage

After the time trial, it was time to decide the GC in the Tour de San Luis when the riders tackled the queen stage on the penultimate day. The riders travelled over just 117.5km from Achiras to a new summit finish on Filo Sierras Comechingones and the first part of the stage was almost entirely flat. In the finale, however, the riders tackled the 16km climb to the finish whose average gradient of 7.8% was expected to crown a deserved winner of the Argentinean race.

 

The riders again took the start in brutally hot conditions but that didn’t dampen the attacking spirit from the riders. One of the first to give it a go was Emanuel Guevara (San Luis) but the former stage winner in the race was quickly brought back.

 

A strong break

The break was finally established when Juan Esteban Arango (Colombian National Team) and Marco Canola (UnitedHealthCare) got clear after a hectic start to the stage. They were joined by Mattia Cattaneo (Lampre-Merida), Pavel Kochetkov (Katusha), Antoine Duchesne (Europcar) and Tom Danielson (Cannondale-Garmin) to form by far the strongest break in the 2015 edition of the race.

 

Nonetheless, the peloton was in no hurry and after 34km of racing, the escapees were 4.50 ahead. That was as much as they would get though as the peloton started to chase. With 54km to go, they had brought the advantage down to just 2.31.

 

Arango takes the sprints jersey

Arango won the first intermediate sprint ahead of Kochetkov and Danielson and at this point, the gap was 2.25. With 20km to go, it was 2.00 and moments later Arango beat Canola and Danielson in the final intermediate sprint to take the lead in the sprints competition.

 

That signaled the start of the climbing action and the front group immediately split. When Kochetkov led Arango and Danielson across the line in a category 3 KOM sprint a few kilometres up the ascent, Cattaneo and Duchesne had already fallen off the pace.

 

Colombia in control

In the peloton, the Colombia team had taken the responsibility, with the South American team eager to set Rodolfo Torres up for another splendid performance. At this point, the gap was down to just a minute.

 

With the advantage melting away, the Arango launched an attack and he dropped his breakaway companions. Meanwhile, the peloton had hit the steeper sections and Movistar had taken over the pace-setting. While they swept up some of the early escapees, the main group was splitting to pieces, and very quickly it was down to just 12 riders.

 

Quintana attacks

Arango was passed by Canola who desperately tried to keep the peloton at bay. The Colombian was caught just as Igor Anton swung off as the final Movistar domestique, meaning that the main group slowed down.

 

With 9km to go, Canola had been swept up and this was the signal for Quintana to make his move. Only race leader Daniel Diaz (Funvic) and Leandro Messineo (San Luis) could stay with the Movistar captain but a tactical battle between Quintana and Diaz allowed more riders to rejoin from behind until a 9-rider group had formed, including Joe Dombrowski (Cannondale), Eduardo Sepulveda (Bretagne), Daniel Moreno, Ilnur Zakarin (both Katusha) and Rodolfo Torres (Colombia).

 

Diaz had his teammate Kleber Da Silva ride tempo on the front but no one dared to attack the race leader. This allowed even more riders to get back on and with 4km to go, the main group was composed of 15 riders.

 

Quintana tries again

Finally, Quintana decided to break the standstill when he moved to the front and started to ride tempo. Immediately, the group was reduced to just 9 riders and now the attacks were coming.

 

When the flamme rouge was in sight, the accelerations had whittled the group down to just Diaz, Quintana, Da Silva and Torres. Diaz took control of the group and set the pace until Torres launched the decisive move with 300m to go.

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