Barbero opens his 2018 account in Castilla y León
Spanish sprinter gets through difficult, windy opener to Salamanca; dominates final sprint to claim ‘double 14’ of career pro wins and Movistar Team triumphs this season
Following six top-ten finishes in the early season -including a 2nd place on stage three of the Vuelta a Andalucía-, Carlos Barbero (Movistar Team) was finally able to raise his arms victorious in this 2018 season. The Burgos native grabbed a success near home, at a slightly uphill finish in Salamanca, to don the first leader’s jersey of a Vuelta a Castilla y León whose stage one (190km) from Alba de Tormes was strongly marked by crosswinds.
The bunch, which always kept under control an early, four-man move never gaining more than three minutes -with good work from Sütterlin, Bico and a strong Castrillo, pushing for nearly hundred kilometres-, split into several echelons after the last climb of the day, the Alto de Frades (Cat-3). Barely 27 riders were part of a top split -including Barbero himself, as well as team-mates Rosón, Fernández and Carretero- which gained almost a minute and a half over the second group. Only the insistence by those teams not having a rider into that break made possible for the two main group (nearly 60 riders) to get together just over 20km from the end.
At the final uphill in Salamanca, Barbero won with over a bike’s length over Euskadi-Murias duo Jon Aberasturi (2nd) and Eduard Prades (3rd). Carlos, who had already obtained a 3″ bonus at the last intermediate sprint, sits 7″ ahead (Movistar Team results) in the lead of the overall classification, with another flat day (182km) still coming up between Valladolid and Palencia on Sunday. For the time being, the Blue sprinter can already savour the 14th victory of his pro career, just as many wins as the Movistar Team has claimed with his in the early 2018 season.
“I had come close to a victory many times already this season, but I wasn’t really anxious because I couldn’t claim a sprint victory last season until the month of May. I knew I was in great condition, because even if you struggle a lot in the Northern classics and they left much wear and tear on your body, as long as you recover well you can build upon it and get further. The team really relied on what I could do, we stayed focused all day and happily, we met our goal for the day – which wasn’t easy at all.
“All teams wanted to ride at the front because of the strong winds, and luckily I was able to enter the main breaks: firstly, a 20-man move with Rosón, and later on, with some other riders bridging back, we also had Héctor and Rubén into the lead group. It was a really nervous stage. Our team DS, Pablo Lastras, brought us to Salamanca yesterday to check the last 4km. We saw there were strong headwinds at the final straight, and with all those battles the race had to go through during the day, I knew that many would struggle at the end. I just looked for my distance and gave it my all from that point.
“I really want to enjoy this victory, because a rider has to go through many difficult moments in the winter, training alone, finding no real reward to those efforts – this victory is a great compensation for me. I just want to go day-by-day right now, because the road can make things turn the other way around quickly. There’s no mountain-top finish in this race and the route could suit me well, but there are many riders in this team who can do better on Sunday. The team, though, has been really fundamental to my win today and should again be a key factor on Saturday. I don’t know if we will win again tomorrow, but it’s important to keep riding this way, working hard, because that’s the only way you can get these results.”