The Badajoz town of Don Benito hosted this Sunday another year the start of the Spanish Cup Elite and U23 with an edition of the Circuito del Guadiana in which Haimar Etxeberria signed an eighth final position for the U23 structure of the Contador Foundation. The victory went to the Russian Controlpack rider Ilia Shchegolkov, second consecutive edition with Russian victory in the race, after surprising in the last stages the large group, almost eighty riders, which regrouped at the end after the last pass through the wall of Magacela.
The Circuito del Guadiana 2023, held under mild weather conditions, with a cool start and increasing temperatures as the hours passed, followed the evolution of recent years: a more or less consented breakaway that opens the race for many kilometres, increasing the pace in each successive passage through Magacela, regrouping, lively pace and breaking into a more massive sprint with accelerations in the final part.
Antonio González was one of the eight riders who rode in the breakaway of the day, a movement that reached a lead of more than two minutes and that saw its solidity shaken with the accelerations that took place in the third of the passes of Magacela. From the chasing group, several riders stood out there, including Thomas Silva, who managed to reach the head of the race.
Both the EOLO-KOMETA Cycling Team and the Finisher collaborated intensively to put down this dangerous movement that came to have about 30 seconds of margin. With thirty kilometres to go the regrouping took place and the last pass through Magacela showed the good form of Shchegolkov, first at the top of the climb. A warning of what was to come a few minutes later.
Antonio González: “I was happy with the way the day went, I had a good feeling all day. I wanted to be able to catch the breakaway to give the team peace of mind at the back in a phase of the race that is not always easy to manage and to avoid as far as possible any problems on the access and on the climb to Magacela”.
Haimar Etxeberria: “The Cup has started, I’m happy to have saved the day as far as crashes are concerned and very grateful for the sensational work that the team has done all day to position me well for all the passes through Magacela. I tried several times, I found it easy on the climb, but when the slopes were over there was no collaboration and there was a first regrouping of about forty riders. The Russian started a kilometre from the end and we couldn’t catch him. We have to make a good balance of this race and move on. We’re taking it one weekend at a time”.
Rafa Díaz Justo, director of the U23 team: “The Clásica del Guadiana is a race that usually follows a very similar script every year if the weather is respectful and good, as it has been this year, and the wind doesn’t appear or we suffer a very adverse weather. A long race, very predictable, with a more or less tolerated breakaway. There are usually accelerations in the third pass of Magacela and the last lap of the circuit is usually a control of three or four teams that want to get to the end of the race to compete. And so it was: there was a breakaway of eight where we had Antonio, then three more riders arrived where there was a dangerous rider who forced us to collaborate with Finisher to bring down that movement. From there, a very fast last climb, regrouping and, as has been happening these years, someone starts and manages to break the sprint. I had warned the guys about Shchegolkov’s option, especially after his strong final climb. The Cup is going to be very open, there are a lot of top riders with full options”.