In the midst of all the media storm about the Vuelta a Espana lead changing hands on Saturday, Ruben Plaza’s exceptional breakaway through the mountains of Madrid regrettably did not gain all the attention it deserved.
Already victorious in Gap this summer in the Tour de France, this time the Lampre-Merida rider powered out of a huge breakaway group no less than 114 kilometres from the finish in Cercedilla. Incredibly, 114 kilometres later and after tackling three first category climbs at the head of the field, the 35-year-old from Alicante was still in front - and 1:07 ahead of closest pursuer Jose Gonçalves (Caja Rural).
Part of an initial break of 10, Plaza said he had opted to go clear alone because he knew there were another 25 riders on his trail. “I knew if they made it into the break, it would be chaotic, whenever there’s been such a big group there’s never been any real collaboration,” he told biciciclismo.com
“So I tried to get away in a smaller group over [the first climb] of Navacerrada and when that didn’t work out, I went for it as soon as we started [the second ascent] of La Morcuera.”
“When I went for it, my aim was to make it all the way to the finish. I know these climbs well,” Plaza added. “It was all about being consistent and I had to calculate my strength right down to the last gram of energy. This is the last stage of the race I could possibly win, and I said it was all or nothing.”
As yet, the Spaniard has not re-signed a new contract with Lampre-Merida for next year, after securing the team’s second triumph of the 2015 Vuelta after winning with Nelson Oliveira in Tarazona.
“In any case you have to live for the moment and enjoy what you’ve got. Right now I want to enjoy the present and this stage win.”
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Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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