By Susan Westemeyer
It was an all-Dutch podium in the Vuelta a Castilla y León Tuesday, a rare event in a Spanish race. Rabobank's Thomas Dekker and Bauke Mollema finished second and third behind Karsten Kroon of CSC, and formerly of Rabobank. That togetherness was expected to carry on after the stage, too. "Karsten has promised us some champagne as well," said Rabobank team leader Adri van Houwelingen. "We and CSC are staying at the same hotel, so it is going to be a fun evening."
Kroon won a sprint which came after a three-kilometre climb, to take the Danish team's 11th season win. "I've done this finish in Ávila a couple of times before in the Vuelta and it suits me really well – especially considering my present form. So I decided to go for the victory and everything worked out perfectly," he said on team-csc.com. And he was, naturally, happy with the long-overdue win. "It was about time! I've been close a few times now, but I haven't had that last bit of luck. I've been in the top-10 three times and then today was finally my lucky day,"
The 32 year-old out-sprinted his younger compatriots out of a 51-rider strong group. "Of course I would have preferred to win the race with my own team, but it is not like we want to take anything away from Karsten, in spite of the fact that some people do think differently about this," van Houwelingen noted on rabobank.nl. "This definitely would have bothered us had this been the Tour of Flanders. Right now, we are just enjoying the excellent podium places of Thomas and Bauke and particularly their great style of riding."
On the sprint on the cobblestone streets of Ávila, Dekker, 23, "perhaps took the lead a little bit early" with 300 metres to go, allowing Kroon to blast past him in the end. Meanwhile neo-professional Mollema, 21, "launched himself like a rocket from the fourteenth position all the way to the front ranks."