An unbeatable Tadej Pogacar wins La Vuelta a Andalucia - Ruta del Sol

Road 19/02/23 15:13 Migue A.

Tadej Pogacar has made a great start to the season. A performance that served as an incentive to an Enric Mas who tried to put him in trouble thanks to a renewed mentality with which he confirmed that the complexes of the past seem to be definitely behind him.

Great cycling in the south

The 69th edition of La Vuelta a Andalucía - Ruta del Sol ends with the victory, on the other hand expected after the level exhibited in the Clásica Jaen - Paraíso Interior, of Tadej Pogacar, who has started 2023 determined to impress.

A real blessing for a race with as much tradition as La Vuelta a Andalucía - Ruta del Sol, which for participation and spectacle is consolidated among the preferences of the peloton in this first block of the season, despite the push of the petrodollars that are pressing hard with the insipid desert races.

The attractive route proposed by the organization of La Vuelta a Andalucía - Ruta del Sol also served to attract a remarkable participation, so that all the ingredients were combined to enjoy the spectacle that the week has brought us.

The one who gives first gives twice

The first stage, through the surroundings of the Cazorla, Segura and Las Villas mountain ranges, was perhaps the most remarkable stage of this Ruta del Sol, with a mid-mountain route in which Euskaltel Euskadi's Gotzon Martin and Eolo-Kometa's Alex Martin, among others, were the protagonists of the day's breakaway, which the peloton let them do until the final part of the day.

On the penultimate of the 5 climbs they had to face, the Garganta de Hornos pass, INEOS-Grenadiers tried to make a tactical move, sending Omar Fraile ahead, who easily caught the two surviving Spaniards from the day's breakaway. They crowned and the race was put on hold as they headed for the final climb, the Despiernacaballos pass, which was crowned just 8 km from the finish.

UAE-Team Emirates didn't give any chance for a surprise, as they put all their riders to work for Tadej Pogacar, who started without any opposition from a willing Santiago Buitrago, who tried unsuccessfully to hold on to the Slovenian's wheel, with 12 km to go.

Behind, Carlos Rodriguez, who shortly before had suffered problems on his bike that prevented him from removing the big chainring, was able to enter in-extremis. The chase was organized with Mikel Landa, Carlos Rodriguez himself, Santiago Buitrago burst by the pace of Tadej and, taking the lead, an unrecognizable Enric Mas.

Bad luck, however, for the Movistar Team rider, who shortly before the top of the pass suffered a mechanical failure that caused him to lose contact.

Tadej Pogacar won the stage and the corresponding yellow jersey, leaving the classification very definite after beating Mikel Landa, second at the finish, by 38 seconds, the same difference assigned to Buitrago and Carlos Rodriguez, who escorted the rider from Murgia at the finish. For his part, Enric Mas practically said goodbye to his chances for the overall by losing 1 minute and 38 seconds, finishing in the company of other illustrious riders such as Pave Sivakov, Damiano Caruso and Jack Haig.

No mercy

The second part, with the finish at the Fortaleza de la Mota de Alcalá a Real, offered another new route suitable for a great cycling show. The riders did not disappoint, who took advantage of the ascent to the pass of Hoya de Charilla, with only 17 km to go, to try to play their trump cards.

On this occasion, it was the Bahrain-Victorious team of Mikel Landa and Santiago Buitrago who tried to force the situation at the start of this climb, preparing the ground for an attack that would come from the rider from Alava. With unusual ease, Tadej Pogacar stuck to his wheel and calmed any hint of rebellion with a hard counterattack that seemed a copy of the previous day's stage.

Once again, a chasing group was formed with Landa, Buitrago, Mas and Carlos Rodríguez, this time without mechanical incidents, who managed to connect with Pogacar and the survivors of the breakaway on the downhill. It would be the cobbled streets leading to the fortress of Alcalá la Real that would decide the stage, a terrain in which the Slovenian feels like a fish in water thanks to his great explosiveness.

He did not count, however, with a responsive Enric Mas, who tried to surprise and for a few moments made us think that someone could cope with the tyranny of the Slovenian. However, in just a breath, Tadej Pogacar made a final acceleration, just 150 m from the finish line to consolidate his lead and increase his gap by another 4 seconds.

Against the odds

The wind was the protagonist of the third stage, the flattest of this Vuelta a Andalucía, which would lead the peloton to a new wall finish, this time in Alcalá de los Gazules.

A finish line that saw its location altered due to the very strong wind that prevented placing the finish line in the highest part of the village and that, at times, even caused the visible complaints of cyclists, with images of some riders who even came to leave the road by the force of the air.

A finish line that saw its location altered due to the very strong wind that prevented placing the finish line in the highest part of the village and that, at times, even caused the visible complaints of cyclists, with images of some riders who even came to leave the road by the force of the air.

In these conditions, a breakaway prospered and gained a significant gap of up to 5 minutes, thanks to the attitude of a peloton that decided to minimize risks in the face of the visible danger caused by the wind. In the large group of adventurers men like Connor Swift, Gorka Izagirre, Tim Wellens or Pierre Latour among others.

Despite the multiple attacks by riders who tried to look for a surprise, it would finally be Tim Wellens who would assert his experience and class on the hard ramps of the streets of Alcalá de los Gazules, extending the full of victories of UAE-Team Emirates.

In the peloton there was hardly any movement on this climb, with Enric Mas again trying to catch Tadej Pogacar's pace but with the latter making up ground and crossing the finish line with time on the peloton.

Adding up and on

The fourth part of the stage, on the road to Iznajar, proposed another mid-mountain day and, as in the previous three, a new wall-style finish. Would Tadej Pogacar be able to win another stage? The answer is yes, there were no surprises in that respect.

However, we were able to enjoy some interesting movements in the previous passes, with INEOS-Grenadiers and Movistar Team filtering into the day's breakaway men of the quality of Sivakov and Ruben Guerreiro respectively, both to look for the stage option and to support a possible move by their leaders.

Movements that came on the last uphill of the day, the top of Fuentes de Cesna, where both Enric Mas and Mikel Landa tried to break the race with a Tadej Pogacar who responded to the offensives with tremendous ease.

After a few minutes of struggle, Tadej Pogacar finally made a very hard breakaway, from the back of the group that surprised everyone. The difference this time was the brilliant response of Enric Mas who managed to hold on to the Slovenian's wheel and both began to make their way. However, they did not expect Matej Mohoric to crown the pass with the main group, who with his excellent downhill technique guided Buitrago and Landa, as well as the rest of the survivors of the peloton, to connect with Pogacar and Mas.

Again the hard ramps of the last kilometer would sentence the day and, again, it was Enric Mas who tried to anticipate with a wild attack. This time Pogacar had to push hard to close the gap, or at least that's what his body language expressed. In any case, the outcome was again the same as in previous days, with the UAE-Team Emirates rider taking another victory, increasing his overall lead to 1:14 over Mikel Landa, second in the standings, and 1:19 over Santiago Buitrago. Meanwhile, Carlos Rodríguez was 1:38 behind in 4th place and Enric Mas was in 5th place, 1:54 behind, awaiting a final day in which the long Puerto del Sol offered a last chance to try to find a crack in the Slovenian's form.

Calm after the storm

However, there was no war on the way to Alhaurín de la Torre on the day that ended La Vuelta a Andalucía Ruta del Sol. The start of the stage was marked by a breakaway of 7 riders with Dries de Bondt and Pascal Eenkhoorn as the most prominent riders. Pace lively but not to do damage in the peloton during the ascent to the Puerto del Sol, beautiful climb of 19 kilometers but without excessive slopes.

It was followed by a terrain that led to the top of Los Núñez, classified as 3rd category but with rough asphalt and ramps of up to 14%, but located 32 km from the finish. There the peloton stepped up the pace to try to kill the breakaway, despite a responsive Dries de Bondt and with UAE-Team Emirates showing total control of the situation and Movistar Team thinking more about the chances of winning the stage with Iván García Cortina, especially considering that the mountainous terrain had been a filter for the few sprinters in the peloton.

Until just over 8 kilometers from the end Dries de Bondt managed to resist his small advantage, in a peloton led by Movistar Team that did not hide its intentions towards the finish. However, although the profile indicated a gradient of 5% in the last kilometer, sometimes the numbers can be deceiving. Movistar gave in to the push of Tadej Pogacar himself, who rode a superb 500 m that seemed to leave the victory on a platter for Alessandro Covi. The Italian didn't count on the fact that Omar Fraile appeared on his wheel and, once again, achieved a victory, ending a drought that had lasted since he won the Spanish Championship in 2021, thus avoiding the full of UAE Team Emirates.

For his part, Tadej Pogacar has won his first stage race of the season with great ease, which serves as a prelude to the spring classics that await him in the coming weeks.



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Un intratable Tadej Pogacar se lleva la Vuelta a Andalucía – Ruta del Sol