Ruta del Sol: Szmyd the team’s top finisher in the “queen stage”

Sylwester Szmyd was the team’s top finisher on the final, “queen stage” of Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta Ciclista Del Sol, taking 23rd. Alejandro Valverde won the stage and claimed an overall victory. 

The final stage in Andalusia was at the same time the hardest. Four KOM’s were leading to the final climb, a 14-kilometer slope to Peñas Blancas. This is where the race was suppose to be decided and even if somebody lost some time in the Saturday’s race against the clock, one could make that up on this stage.

There were only 40 kilometers which were completely flat in this 171-kilometers stage, and they were located right after the start. This is where a 13-man group, with no CCC Sprandi Polkowice representatives, tried to surge away. The peloton let them gain only 50 seconds of advantage, before reeling them back in.

Next move, on the cat. 1 climb to Puerto del Espino, included 11 riders going clear and Sylwester Szmyd was among them. The composition of that break was too dangerous for the race favorites though and that escape also got caught. Rubén Fernández (Movistar), Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) and Simon Geschke (Team Giant – Alpecin) were involved in the third attempt. Wellens felt well enough on the climbs to leave Geschke and Fernández behind. He was going solo until the descent from the Peñas Blancas, which was tackled two times, from two different sides.  This is where Jerome Baugnies (Wanty – Groupe Gobert) and Nicolas Roche (Team Sky) joined the Belgian.

Their gap – around 30 seconds – was not big enough to survive in the front and were caught with 14 kilometers to go, at the bottom of the decisive climb.

With every kilometer the group was thinning out and when it got to the point, where the leading pack included 12 runners (no “riders in orange” in it) Alejando Valverde rocketed and started building the lead. He established a 40-second advantage and in the final 3 kilometers he was chased by the trio Teyaj van Garderen (BMC Racing), Bauke Mollema (Trek – Segafredo) and Rafał Majka (Tinkoff). They were unable to close the gap and the Spaniard not only took the stage but also claimed the overall win. He was 22 seconds behind the leader, van Garderen, before the stage and he defeated on the line the American, who eventually finished 4th, by 48 seconds. Mollema reached the top in 2nd and Majka in 3rd place.

Sylwester Szmyd was the team’s top finisher, as he took 23rd on the top. Felix Grosschartner wrapped the race with 25th place overall, the highest among the CCC Sprandi Polkowice riders.