Lights and shadows on the route to Cullera: Márton Dina, in the fight; Alejandro Ropero, crash and retirement
71ª Vuelta a la Comunitat Valenciana
Etapa 2: Torrent – Cullera, 181 km
With the early formation of the quintet that would open the race for almost 170 kilometers, and without the final presence of the Kometa-Xstra in the race, the protection of its main assets was the main concern of the cyclists of the continental group of the Alberto Contador Foundation. Márton Dina and Alejandro Ropero had to reach the start of the Monte de les Raboses, an unprecedented climb for professional cycling in which they flew at the pace of the Moscon, Valverde, Haig, Pogacar, Teuns, Izagirre, Martin and company. The Hungarian fought his way into the top-25, eventually finishing 28th to 33 second from the winner. Alejandro Ropero, however, could not finish the stage. A crash in which he was involved fifteen kilometers from the end with Giacomo Garavaglia forced him to abandon.
The stage, the unprecedented final uphill to the vicinity of the weather radar located on Mount Cullera, went to the bag of Slovenian Tadej Pogacar (UAE-Emirates). Another WorldTour success. For this resolution, however, it was necessary to make an intense hunting effort, because the breakaway had come to leave after six minutes when the race was heading for the most complex orographic area, the broken itinerary that covered the regions of Hoya de Buñol and Canal de Navarrés before returning to La Ribera. The Kometa-Xstra rolled around its trunks, but it did not get involved in hunting.
“At the beginning of the stage I tried it, I was very keen to be able to catch the break. But it couldn’t be. In front of me, there were some very good riders, of a very high level. But the tension did not increase. Up to three World Tour teams were at that moment pulling and the breakaway was quite controlled. Our job was to help Ropero and Márton, but Giacomo and Alejandro’s fall fifteen minutes from the end disrupted us. I stayed with Márton to support him until the end. Today we had a lot of bad luck, but this is cycling, sometimes we have luck on our side and other times not”, explains the Portuguese Daniel Viegas.
In the end, during the last thirty kilometers, the collaboration of several formations reactivated the hunting rhythm of the peloton. Controlled by the lemon were Team Ineos, Movistar, CCC, Lotto-Soudal, Mitchelton and Bahrain-Merida, as well as a Deceuninck-Quick Step and Jumbo-Visma that had been thrown for many kilometres previously. In just twenty kilometres, the advantage of the breakaway went from almost three and a half minutes to just over twenty seconds. The final climb was going to be a matter for the men in the general.
“Once again, it’s been blown away all day. The first part had its crumb, but we rode more calmly and managed well. Then, on the flat area, the pace was tremendous. The pack was going very, very fast. Falls can happen. For the final climb, we came in well positioned, riding behind Pogacar. In one corner I couldn’t follow the line, I was a bit stuck and the launch was a stop-start for me. I made it back to the first group, but I was already rolling at full speed there. I hope that Alejandro won’t have anything and that he will soon be back on his feet”, Márton Dina explains.
This Friday the Tour of the Valencia Region proposes another day which on paper looks ideal for a resolution to the sprint. Between Orihuela and Torrevieja, a stage entirely in Alicante, the cyclists will have to cover 175 kilometers. The Kometa-Xstra Cycling Team will start with Alejandro Ropero and also Mathias Larsen. The Danish cyclist also withdrew during the first part of the day. Giacomo Garavaglia, in spite of being also involved, will take the start: “I don’t know very well what happened. We were going too fast. Alejandro was riding in front of me, he fell right in front of me and I couldn’t do anything to avoid the fall”, says the Italian. “It’s an occupational hazard,” lamented an Alejandro Ropero from a hospital where any fracture was ruled out. “We were going very fast at Cullera, about fifteen or so from the end. I lost my front wheel in a speed bump and I couldn’t avoid crashing. I hit my right side. At first I couldn’t get up from the ground. In the end it was all about the bump and the scratches. Let’s see if we can recover soon and be ready as soon as possible”.
(automatic translation, sorry for mistakes)
📸 Cortesía de Vuelta a la Comunitat Valenciana