The launched launcher

Fabio Jakobsen, Deceuninck leader, suffered cramps in full arrival and transferred the stripes to his gregarious Florian Sénéchal, who finished victorious.


Since the Vuelta a España joined the peloton, back in 1935, and the three major rounds coincide in the cycling calendar, there has not been a season without a Spanish victory. The meanest loot was collected in 1996, when Ángel Edo saved the honor with a lone win in Crotona, on matchday five of the Giro d'Italia. Last year, not too generous, there were two, both in La Vuelta: Marc Soler and Ion Izagirre. This course continues with a clean sheet, as it is dangerously close to its end. There are eight days of competition left, eight opportunities to avoid full sterility and the dismal record.

And that La Vuelta started with a hopeful second place for Álex Aranburu in the initial time trial in Burgos. The Basque cyclist was one of the candidates to wet in the Spanish round, with several profiles that adapted to his qualities, but a fall sent him home. With other stage hunters with the gunpowder soaked or also withdrawn, the case of Omar Fraile, who got off this Friday, and with Jon Aberasturi as the only sprinter, but far from the bullets of this contest, the few options to break the drought point to a single runner, Enric Mas, up to now focused on a higher goal: the red jersey.

Pico Villuercas, one of the great discoveries of this edition, the port that has raised the most expectations after the Gamoniteiru, stands this Saturday as a good opportunity for Enric Mas to conquer that long-awaited victory. Last Sunday, in the Alto de Velefique, he was already powerful in the hand-in-hand with Primoz Roglic. Also on Wednesday on the wall of Valdepeñas de Jaén, although there the percentages favored his rival more. This time they will be measured over 14.7 kilometers at a 6.5% average slope, with ramps that reach 15%. A colossus of Extremadura that appears in society wanting to party. A good day to break the hex.

Villuercas will be the climax of the return of La Vuelta to the Extremadura community, which has not been present since 2013, when Michael Morkov won Cáceres. As an aperitif, Villanueva de la Serena, the town of José Manuel Calderón, a Spanish basketball legend, welcomed a massive arrival this Friday with surprising resolution. The Deceuninck marked a hellish train that fractured the platoon, but in the battle they also lost their leader, Fabio Jakobsen, who suffered cramps, leg pain. The Dutchman encouraged his usual pitcher, Florian Sénéchal, to finish the job. The 28-year-old Frenchman, this time a thrown pitcher, thus obtained the best victory of his life, in a hurried arrival with Matteo Trentin.

The stage will not go down in history for nothing else. In fact, this year we had already seen others very similar. The escape repeated on Groundhog Day for all the flat routes, with representation from the three invited teams: a Burgos-BH, a Caja Rural and a Euskaltel. Specifically: Diego Rubio, Álvaro Cuadros and Luis Ángel Maté. The full Spanish is more frequent in these impossible adventures. The only different situation was lived at 60 kilometers, when the squads without sprinters caused a fan that caught the roosters off guard and surprised Egan Bernal, who was left behind for twenty seconds. No one wound up the initiative, so the cuts healed quickly. There was one more threat, without consequences. This Saturday history will be made at La Vuelta. At Pico Villuercas.

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