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Less than a year after his breakthrough victory in Portugal, Shilov won the bunch sprint on a dramatic and windy second stage of the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon; Barbero took the overall lead

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CAJA RURAL - SEGUROS RGA

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MIGUEL RUBIANO

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VUELTA A CASTILLA Y LEON

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18.04.2015 @ 18:43 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Less than a year after his breakthrough victory in a stage of the Volta a Portugal, Sergey Shilov (Lokosphinx) confirmed his huge potential by winning the second stage of the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon. After a dramatic race which was temporarily stopped due to bad weather and saw the peloton split to pieces in the crosswinds, the Russian won the sprint for a reduced peloton by beating Carlos Barbero (Caja Rural) and Miguel Rubiano (Colombia) into the minor positions while Barbero takes the leader’s jersey off the shoulders of his teammate Pello Bilbao.

 

Sergey Shilov may not be a household name in the world of professional cycling but the 27-year-old has often proved that he has the potential to mix it up with the best. Being active in the best Spanish and Portuguese races, he has taken several top results and crowned it with a stage victory in last year’s Volta a Portugal.

 

Today the Russian again confirmed his great talent when he emerged as the strongest in the second stage of the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon. As it has often been the case, he used his fast sprint to achieve a good result when he won the sprint from a reduced peloton at the end of a hard and dramatic day.

 

The stage which started ton Portuguese soil, included the mighty Alto da Torre whose summit would bring the riders to almost 2000m of altitude before the riders descended to a flat second half. However, bad weather forced the riders to neutralize the race when the riders were halfway up the climb and the riders were transported buy cars to the bottom of the descent where the race was restarted with a big delay.

 

With the major difficulty having been neutralized, all was set for a traditional sprint stage and it was the Inteja team and the Caja Rural squad of race leader Pello Bilbao who made sure that the early two-rider break was caught. Like yesterday, however, Movistar had big plans on a day that was marred by rain and strong winds.

 

With 10km to go, the only WorldTour team attacked hard in the crosswinds and it was a small 20-rider group that got to the finish to decide the race in a sprint. Here Shilov showed his speed as he managed to take the win and relegate Carlos Barbero and Miguel Angel Rubiano into the minor podium positions.

 

Race leader Bilbao rolled across the line in 7th but with his teammate Barbero finishing second, he lost the overall lead. Barbero and Bilbao are equal on time but on a countback it is now Barbero who finds himself in the leader’s jersey.

 

He takes that narrow lead into tomorrow’s queen stage which is expected to bring the riders to the fore. After a flat first part, the riders get to the difficult finale where they will tackle a category 2 climb before the race will be decided in the mountaintop finish on the Alto de Lubian which will crown a deserved winner of the 3-day race.

 

Big climbs

After the opening sprint stage, it was time for some serious climbing in the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon which brought the riders over 208.0km from Guarda in Portugal to Fuentes de Oñoro back in Spain. After a flat first part, they tackled the category 1 Alto Penhas Douradas followed by the category 1 Alto da Torre which brought them to 1930m of altitude. After a long descent, the riders reached the second half which was almost entirely flat, with just a small uncategorized climb coming with around 60km to go.

 

There was no wind, a temperature of 10 degrees and an overcast sky when the 109 remanining riders left Guarda. Like yesterday, there was a big battle to get into the early break and with a gradual descent and lots of attacks, it made for a very fast start to the stage.

 

The break gets clear

After 10km of racing, the peloton was still together and the riders had covered when the first promising move was made. Oscar Gonzalez (Efapel) got clear but he was quickly brought back.

 

Instead, Garikoitz Bravo (Murias Taldea) and Diego Rubio (Efapel) managed to escape and at the 29km mark, they had built an advantage of 25 seconds. The peloton finally slowed down and 5.5km later, the escapees had extended the gap to 1.16.

 

Caja Rural in control

As the riders started to climb the Alto Penhas Douradas, it started to rain and at this point, Rubio and Bravo had an advantage of 3.50. The peloton didn’t show any interest in the chase and so they had extended the gap to 5.27 as they approached the summit.

 

When Bravo led Rubio over the top, the sun was again shining. The peloton had accelerated and at the summit, Caja Rural had reduced the gap to 4.15, with KOM leader Jose Goncalces, Luis Mas, Carlos Barbero and Fernando Grijalba leading the Spanish team across the line.

 

A chase quartet is formed

Unfortunately, heavy rain started to fall when the riders started to climb the might Alto da Torre in very foggy conditions. That didn’t slow Caja Rural down as they had reduced the gap to 3.15 with 80km to go.

 

At this point, the attacking started when defending champion David Belda (Burgos) and Francisco Mancebo (Skydive) took off. They were joined Alberto Gallego (Radio Popular) and Joni Brandao (Efapel) and they managed to build an advantage of 50 seconds.

 

The race is neutralized

However, the bad conditions forced the organizers to neutralize the race and the riders were transported by car to the city of Manteigas at the bottom of the descent. Here the race was restarted after a long break and Rubio and Bravo were sent off with an advantage of 2.24 over their four chasers and 3.46 over the peloton.

 

Belda and Mancebo quickly decided to drop back to the peloton while the bunch kept the gap between 3.00 and 3.30. At the 137km mark, the escapees had even extended it to 3.50 but this was the signal for Caja Rural to up the pace. The Spanish team clearly accelerated, brought the chasers back and reduced the gap to 2.20 after 155km of racing.

 

Rubio takes off

However, Rubio refused to give up and he managed to distance Bravo who was quickly swallowed up by the peloton. Meanwhile, the lone Efapel rider managed to extend his advantage which was 4.11 with 43km to go.

 

Inteja now started to chase and their work had an effect. With 28km to go, the gap was down to 3.18 and now Caja Rural had joined forces with the team from the Dominican Republic. As Rubio was fading, the gap was melting away and with 25km to go, the gap was only 40 seconds.

 

Gusev makes a move

Moments later, the Efapel rider was caught but this only opened the door for Vladimir Gusev (Skydive) to attack. The Russian managed to build an advantage of 20 seconds and with 15km to go, he was still 12 seconds ahead.

 

However, it was impossible to deny the sprinters and with 13km to go, it was all back together. All was set for a bunch sprint but Movistar was not intent on rolling to the finish. The Spanish team split the peloton in the crosswinds and it was a 20-rider group that decided the stage, with Shilov winning the sprint.

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