40ª Vuelta Ciclista a Murcia
Etapa 1: Los Alcázares – Caravaca de la Cruz (177,6 km)

From the beach to the ‘mountain’; from the Mar Menor to the Vera Cruz Basilica through the steep slope of the Castle. The Vuelta a Murcia started this Friday the ’40th’ anniversary edition with a complex stage, marked by three summits for the mountain grand prix and a final on the slope, so much to the taste of the organizers of cycling today. An inaugural stage in which the breakaway triumphed with such an advantage that one of its ten members is profiled as the winner of the overall final of the Murcia race. And among those ten members, giving presence to the Kometa-Xstra Cycling Team, the Andalusian Sergio García. The young cyclist from Alcalá del Valle, in his first season as a professional, was formidable on his third day of competition and rode without complexes against riders with much more experience. He crossed the finish line eighth, 29 seconds behind the winner, but fought until the final kilometer.

García was one of the eleven members who initially made up the ‘good escape’, a breakaway that took some time to develop and that was finally born during the climb to Cabezo de Plata. There, a gap of three minutes was consolidated which, with the passing of the kilometres, and with the connivance of the diversity of the squads represented, left over ten minutes when this first stage had little more than sixty kilometres to go. Only Gazprom was in charge of throwing in the peloton while the head of the race rolled in perfect harmony. In La Garapacha, with three demanding final kilometers, the breakaway was reduced to ten units. There the Andalusian suffered, but he recovered. Alongside García were Héctor Carretero (Movistar), Ecuadorian Jefferson Cepeda (Caja Rural), Czech Josef Cerny (CCC), Canadian Adam de Vos (Rally) and Frenchman Thibaut Guernalec (Arkea), Germany’s Lennard Kämna (Bora-Hansgrohe), Belgium’s Xandro Meurisse (Circus-Wanty Goubert), Spain’s Antonio Soto (Fundación Euskadi) and Kazakhstan’s Nikita Stalnov (Astana).

The advantage shot fed many braves in the head of the race and within the last twenty kilometers, in the straight slightly ascending between Calasparra and Caravaca, different offensives began to occur. Sergio Garcia resisted very well in that phase of the race, taking advantage of the breaks to not give up definitively. The Kometa-Xstra cyclist would be, de facto, the last man to return to the leading group, almost in the streets of Caravaca de la Cruz. Without thinking much about it, he attacked. And he would accelerate again later. With the ten men who had escaped together at the last kilometre’s sign, Garcia was in charge of unleashing the final hostilities and of filming the group just before the final ascent to the basilica. The Andalusian, a neoprofessional, then paid the accumulated efforts of the day. The stage, and consequently the leadership, went to the bag of the Belgian Xandro Meurisse (Circus-Wanty).

Sergio García: “Today was one of the hardest days I’ve ever lived on a bike. I got off the hook at the first category pass, in fact, but already on the way down I was able to connect with the race leader again. Once the ten of us had regrouped, we started back up again. At the end I was going just, just, with cramps. When they started to pull each other out, I was already doing the rest. I would get off the hook, but when I stopped I got hooked again and on a couple of occasions I started again, I had to try, there was nothing to lose. It was a very hard day. But I’m happy. Now we are going to rest, see how we recover and how we can run tomorrow”.

At 16:48 from Meurisse the main peloton arrived. The race, in terms of the general classification, is very well on track for the ten runners. This Saturday the Vuelta a Murcia celebrates its second and last stage, the most complicated orographically by the passage through the Sierra de Espuña and, especially, the ascent to the Collado Bermejo that so many times is decisive in the race as much for its ascent as for its descent, in some technical sections. Its summit is 62 kilometres away from Avenida Pintor Salzillo de Murcia, where the finish line of this 179.6-kilometre stage will be located, starting from the town of Santomera.

(automatic translation, sorry for mistakes)

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