By Bjorn Haake in Ponferrada
The current economic climate in professional cycling means that a win can mean the survival of a team. Exposure for sponsors isn't always enough when it's winning that counts the most. David Garcia Dapena's brave victory in stage 15 of the Vuelta could be the tonic Galician cycling is looking for after hard times of its own.
Xacobeo Galicia is one of those rare gems you generally only find in the Vuelta. A Continental team with a very modest budget and riders keen to do more than just sit in the bunch all day, the Galicians enjoy lighting up the action on the road. David Garcia Dapena rode away from his rivals in the final kilometres of stage 15 to score one of the squad's biggest victories.
So precarious in its financial position, Garcia's win and Ezequiel Mosquera's high overall placing (he is fourth after stage 15) may be enough to save the team from falling apart. Garcia emphasised this in the winner's press conference, saying, "It was great that the sponsor took over mid-season [the team changed from Karpin Galicia to Xacobeo Galicia in August]. I hope they will stay with it for many years to come. This would help cycling in Galicia, which is in the process of growing tremendously."
The squad began 2007 as Karpin-Galicia, a year in which four of the nine Spanish professional cycling teams left the sport. With the withdrawal of Valery Karpin, a construction company based in the Galego region, it appeared as though the squad's riders may have to join the list of those looking for another team to ride for.
That uncertainty has been eased during this year's Vuelta. Xacobeo Galicia has had an outstanding race so far, with stages 14 and 15 the highlights. September 14 was a potentially definitive day as Ezequiel Mosquera dropped Carlos Sastre over the stage's final climb to move within 54 seconds of a podium spot.
The next day it was Garcia's turn. He set out with a plan for the general classification, which he explained after it bore fruit on his trying to make it stick. It was simple: "I wanted to be in the top 15 in Madrid," he said. Thanks to his intelligent ride and some slack from the peloton - it trickled in almost 15 minutes after the stage winner - Garcia moved from 23rd to 13th overall.
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