All or nothing approach ends with third for Trentin in Murcia

Sat 16 Feb 2019

Mitchelton-SCOTT took an attacking approach to the second and final stage of the Vuelta Ciclista a la Región de Murcia Costa Cálida as European champion Matteo Trentin sprinted to third place behind breakaway stage winner Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana Pro Team) and world champion Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team).

Strong teamwork from Damien Howson, Robert Stannard and Chris Juul-Jensen on the final climb of the day kept Trentin in contention for his second win of the season, but a late attack from Valverde saw him go clear with fellow veteran Sanchez, with the duo staying away to contest a two-up sprint for the victory.

Frantic Start:
With four categorised climbs on the menu and the first coming within the opening 20km, the day began with a number of attacks, including a dangerous move of 20 riders that was quickly brought back by the peloton.

By the time the bunch hit the slopes of the Alto de El Garruchal, a breakaway still hadn’t been formed. Peter Kennaugh (BORA – hansgrohe) went solo over the top of the summit and was eventually joined by a small group of riders to form a 10-rider break.

The Brit’s time on the General Classification meant the peloton weren’t keen to let him get too far down the road, with Astana Pro Team massing at the front of the pack to keep the gap below one minute.

Attack after attack:
By time the peloton reached the second Cat 3 climb of the day, the gap to the leaders had dropped to 40 seconds. With the breakaway looking doomed Astana Pro Team launched an attack with Jakob Fuglsang, who was quickly followed by Howson.

The pair were joined by Riccardo Zoidl (CCC Pro Team) as a select move of 10 gave chase behind. With the chasing group closing in, Fuglsang went solo while Howson and Zoidl were taken in by the pursuers to form a new pack of 12 riders ahead of the main peloton.

The chasing group began to swell and as Fuglsang was reeled, Juul-Jensen made a brief move off the front, but the 29-year-old was soon brought back into the group of 40 riders.

One Final Climb:
The Astana Pro Team took control of the reduced peloton as the race approached the decisive Cat 2 Alto de la Cresta del Gallo. Looking to prevent more attacks, Mitchelton-SCOTT moved to the head of the pack as the climb began, with Trentin sitting fourth wheel and hoping to save himself for a final sprint.

However, world champion Valverde was keen to make his mark at his home race and jumped off the front with 2018 winner Sanchez in pursuit. Valverde was able to distance his fellow Spaniard before the summit, with Trentin forming part of a small group behind, which began to chase the veteran down on the descent into Murcia.

Sanchez managed to haul back Valverde in the closing stages and came around the Movistar Team rider in the sprint for the line to take the victory. For the second day running, Trentin was the fastest man in the chasing pack as he sprinted to third place.

Matteo Trentin:
"We knew that Movistar and Astana would be racing each other, so the plan for us was to have one guy with them in the critical moves. Damo looked really good on the long climb and then Chris tried to shake it up a bit as well, but it was too controlled for anyone to get away."

"We did our thing by hitting the last climb with a good tempo. Then when Valverde and Sanchez went on the attack I just rode my own tempo up the climb."

"The chase was quite good but we had a couple of moments with missed corners that weren't properly sign-posted on the road and so we lost a bit of time because of that. But I dont know if we could caught them without these mistakes."

"Overall I'm happy of course, because I'm climbing and sprinting at a good level now. The more important races are around the corner and everything is on the right path. Also, the team rode amazing these two days and to be honest, seventh and third does not reflect how good we were riding, but this is a bike race where only one can win."

Vuelta Ciclista a la Región de Murcia Costa Cálida – Stage 2 Results:
1. Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana Pro Team) 4:14:33
2. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) ST
3. Matteo Trentin (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +0:13 

Vuelta Ciclista a la Región de Murcia Costa Cálida – General Classification after Stage 2: 
1. Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana Pro Team) 8:29:38
2. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) ST
3. Pello Bilbao (Astana Pro team) +0:10
7. Matteo Trentin (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +0:19 

Photo courtesy of Getty Images.