Winner Anacona (Movistar) was able to breathe a sigh of relief as he crossed the finish line in San Juan on Sunday and officially wrap up overall success at the Vuelta a San Juan. Anacona’s victory on the Alto Colorado broke a four-year and five-month wait after his previous and only win at the 2014 Vuelta a Espana, while the title brought his first ever general classification win.
A rider with plenty of talent in his own right, Anacona has been a domestique in the service of Movistar’s leaders Alejandro Valverde and Nairo Quintana since he joined the team in 2015. After his win, Anacona said that he accepts his position within the team but had never stopped hoping that he would get an opportunity for his own success.
"Ever since I signed for the Movistar Team, Eusebio Unzué always made clear for me what my role was, but on the other hand, and being fully aware of what my place was here, I always kept some ambition inside for individual success,” Anacona explained. “One always has dreams and must fight for those. Even if my job is taking care of our leaders at the crucial races, I'll always try to shine when a chance like this comes around.
“Achieving such a success makes me feel more valued and do my best when it's time to work for others. This victory goes especially to my family and kids, who are always behind me - they're the joy of my life, they make me go forward. I hope they enjoy this win as much as I do."
Anacona set up his title with victory from the breakaway on the Alto Colorado on stage 5 after escaping on the lower part of the climb. The final two stages were due to be sprint days and should have been relatively straightforward for the Movistar team to defend Anacona’s 41-second lead over Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep). However, windy conditions on the penultimate stage made it anything but straightforward and Anacona was reticent to celebrate too early.
"We were able to get through yesterday's stage [stage 6] safely after a really hard day - it felt harder than the Colorado ascent for me,” he said. “The weather was awful, the winds were strong, and many teams tried to make things difficult for us, yet we were able to defend ourselves well. We thought it might be easier today, because those squads with sprinters, which were too late for the win yesterday, wouldn't let another chance go this time. The pace was again really strong today, so I couldn't enjoy this jersey much before the finish.
"Now that's it's over, I feel so happy as much as relieved that I could finish it off. It's my first stage race victory, and I hope it won't be the last. It's a magnificent way to confirm all the preparations we did for this season were right - and claiming a victory in 2019 was also a hidden goal for me this season. I could achieve it atop the Colorado on Friday and sealing this overall success brings me massive joy.”