Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Guama Takes Volta ao Alentejo opener

Guama stretches out after taking the win (Photo:
Ecuadorian Byron Guama popped the first cork of the Volta ao Alentejo by sprinting away on the steady uphill finish in Marvao ahead of a select group of climbers such as Cesar Fonte and Delio Fernandez and uphill sprinters like Carlos Barbero. Portuguese and Spanish riders dominated the top 20 with only Karel Hnik (Etixx) and Ryan Anderson (Optum) being the only non-Spanish/Portuguese speakers in the top 20, both finishing at 7 seconds back.

The day was marked by a three man breakaway including 3-time Little 500 Champion Eric Young (Optum), August Jensen (Oster Hus) and Jose Ragonessi (Ecuador). The trio, which formed after 25 kilometers, got a maximum gap of 5 minutes before the peloton felt like chasing. Young, who is a former American Pro Criterium Champion, won the two intermediate sprints on offer before dropping back from the breakaway with 50 kilometers to go. With 24 kilometers to go, Jensen and Ragonessi were swept up by the peloton, who were preparing for the finale that included two climbs, one of which included the uphill finish.

On the first climb, Raul Alarcon from Louletano lead Efapel teammates Carlos Oyarzun and Joni Brandao over the top for the KOM points but the group more or less stayed together to the bottom of the finishing climb. Going into the final uphill, a small group of 5 separated themselves and as the climb leveled out in the final 200 meters, Guama lept away from the others and was able to take the victory with a 1 second cushion on a group of 4. In the U23 classification, Guama's Team Ecuador teammate Jaime Roson came in 6 seconds down and took the white youth jersey. Roson leads four riders by 5 seconds including USA National's Tanner Putt, Etixx's Markus Hoelgaard, Anicolor's Joaquim Silva and Nuno Matos.

For those that don't know much about Guama, he has been a stalwart in South America for the last half-decade and has won the overall classification of the Vuelta a Ecuador twice and has 5 stage wins in the Vuelta a Colombia. His team, Team Ecuador, is the South American arm of Team Movistar and they act as a pseudo-Ecuadorian National Team but half of their roster does include Spanish riders, including former Tour de l'Avenir winner Jordi Simon.

The race continues in Alentejo tomorrow with a flat stage that is capped off by a short but steep climb to the castle in Montemor-o-Novo.

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