Vuelta a Navarra
Stage 2: Cáseda – Larra/Belagüa (163,3 km)
Great spectacle in the Pyrenean finish of this edition of the Vuelta a Navarra. In the Belagüa ski resort, the winner was Alejandro Franco (Gomur), who continues with his uphill streak, and there the British rider Oliver Knight (Ax-en-Provence) managed to defend his lead. Italian Andrea Pietrobon, sixth, was the best of the EOLO-KOMETA riders at the finish line and jumped up to eighth overall, 1’54” behind the leader.
The second stage of the Navarre round, however, had in the Italian Manuel Oioli one of its great protagonists. Earlier, Arnau Gilabert, David Domínguez, Marcel Camprubí and Javi Serrano had been looking for one of the many breakaways that fought their way through, but it was Oioli who managed a breakaway with more consistency. The first year U23 rider of the sport structure of the Contador Foundation made an offensive move midway through the race that put him in the lead along with Gomur Sergio Gutiérrez.
A move that allowed him to crown first the mountain passes of Iso and Las Coronas. Gutiérrez, suffering from cramps, dropped off, and Oioli rode alone up the spectacular Roncal valley until the start of the final climb. A journey through the Erronkarri in which he cycled with more than two minutes over his pursuers. On the final climb, with a very demanding start of constant 8% gradients and several horseshoes, he was finally caught by three other riders.
The peloton, led by Lizarte, was travelling very fast, and the breakaway was caught with six kilometres to go, three of them hard. A phase in which there were several accelerations that highlighted four riders (Franco, Harrison Wood, José Marín and Pablo Castrillo) from the small group of Pietrobon, who crossed the finish line eight seconds later. 22″ behind Arnau Gilabert, 13th, and 49″ behind a small group with Javi Serrano, 17th, and Marcel Camprubí, 25th.
“I didn’t have the best feeling at the start of the day,” Oioli said. “Then, as the kilometres went by, I felt better and better. On a small slope I broke away from the main group and went flat out. I took it as a time trial as far as I could. It’s a pity that Sergio had cramps, we were working well together and we would have been a bit fresher at the end. But the terrain was very hard. I’m happy with the day. This Vuelta a Navarra is a very, very well organised race. And really hard”.
To endorse the last words of the Piedmontese cyclist, the third stage of the race. A stage with a hilly finish, in San Cristóbal, with a very demanding pass in the first third, San Miguel de Aralar. And the subsequent terrain is not much easier. Another very interesting stage ahead.