Earlier today, Ryan Roth of the Spidertech p/b Planet Energy set the fastest time in the ITT to take over the lead of the Vuelta Ciclista a Cuba, the 35th edition of the UCI 2.2 race.
That made it three stage wins – so far – for the team with Keven Lacombe and Martin Gilbert each victorious in a sprint. The team is hoping to improve on last year’s results of five stage wins and a second place overall for François Parisien (who is not racing in Cuba) and sixth for Roth.
With six stages to go, leader Roth and his teammate Andrew Randell, who sits in 5th place overall are focused on the overall while the rest of the team, Gilbert, Lacombe, Guillaume Boivin and Simon Lambert Lemay aim for stage wins.
Following the same course as last year, the 130+ field from 27 teams including 17 from the host country, faced the 13 stages including two split stages over 1791 kilometers.
Venezuelan Miguel Ubeto won the field sprint to take the 153 km stage 1 ahead of Raul Grangel (Cuban National Team) and Cuban Damian Martinez (Guantanamo). Cuban Yoel Solensal (Sanci Spiritus) escaped solo early in the stage and established a gap of two minutes but suffered a flat tire on the descent of the second climb of the day, the Cat B Alto de Cotilla. Attacks splintered the peloton on the flat 80 kilometers to the finish with both Randell and Roth safely ensconced in the lead group, finishing 8th and 16th respectively.
Stage 2, a fairly flat 111 km affair came down to another bunch sprint with Colombian Jaime Castañeda (UNE EPM Team) taking the win ahead of Venezuelan Wilmen Bravo (Sumiglov-Gober) and Roth. Castañeda took over the lead with Roth moving up to 5th spot.
Bravo took over the lead after winning the sprint on the 185 km stage 3 and those important bonus seconds. Ubeto was 2nd and Cuban Yans Carlos Arias (Universidad Del Depo) 3rd. A 13-rider break escaped to gain over three minutes but they were caught after 70 km in the front. Gilbert finished 6th on the stage and Roth and Randell finishing safely in the group with no changes in their GC spots.
Spidertech claimed its first UCI win when Lacombe took the bunch sprint of the 86km fourth stage. Cuban Yoel Mariño (Matanzas) was 2nd and Joaquin Sobrino (Peugeot) 3rd.
“We succeeded to organize ourselves to be six teammates at the front with three kilometers to go”. Lacombe told sportcom.qc. “To be six gave us a small advantage over the others which was the goal of the day. It was really beautiful teamwork and we are really happy with the result.”
Winner of four stages last year, Lacombe added “the stage was fairly short and flat which gave us an advantage. However, there were crosswinds which made things a little bit more difficult.”
Both Roth and Randell finished safely in the bunch to stay in 6th and 25th on GC.
The next day on stage 5, it was Gilbert’s turn to win the sprint in the longest stage of the race at 206 km long. Once again Mariño was 2nd and Elia Viviani (Ita) 3rd.
“The team did excellent work today.” Gilbert told sportcom.qc. “There was a lot of wind and we made sure to be in good position for the crosswinds at the end of the race. Our six riders finished in the peloton which is excellent.”
Headwind and pressure from the Canadian team split the field with a lead group of 35 riders increasing their gap from 30 seconds at 20 km to go, to 1 minute at 10 km to go. Gilbert avoided a late stage crash which took down five riders to take the win. Also finishing in the lead group Boivin was 5th, Randell 13th, Lacombe 26th and Roth 28th. No changes to GC with Bravo still in the lead.
Dutchman Peter Woestenberg (Global Cycling Team) outsprinted his breakmates to claim 113 km stage 6 ahead of his teammate Tim Nederlof and Cuban Pedro Sibila (Universidad Del Depo). Also in the 5-rider break Cuban Vicente Sanabria (Matanzas) became the new leader. The Canadians finished in the main group at 1:19 back which moved Roth down one spot to 7th on GC and Randell in 13th.
Stage 7 was the first split stage with the 35 km time trial in the morning and 131 km in the afternoon. Roth who has been ailing, set the fastest time of 44:29, almost one minute faster than his time last year. The only other rider to break the 45-minute line was defending champion Arnold Alcolea (Cub) at +0:14. In 3rd was Viviani at +0:54. Randell was 6th at +0:19.
After riders protested against the distance, the distance was shortened by 6km and the peloton maintained a slow pace until 20km to go. SpiderTech tweeted “Mostly the teams with good climbers for tomorrow have initiated this protest VEN, COL, etc. They maintain firm their position.”
With such a slow speed, the riders arrived much later than expected where Viviani took the bunch sprint ahead of Mariño and Joaquín Sobrino (Peugeot España).
Roth is now the new leader ahead of Arnold Alcolea (Cub) at +0:18 and Venezuelan José Alarcón (Sumiglov-Gober. Merida) at +0:59. Randell sits in 5th at +1:23.
The race continues with the difficult stage 8, at 89km long with two tough climbs including the finish at the top of Mirador.
See Photos on official site
Complete results here