Circuito Guadiana: Eu-Eu-Euskadi
The Copa de Espana kicked off down in Extremadura in the village of Don Benito, which lies on the banks of the Guadiana river (hence the race name). Spanish amateur cycling is still continuing on pretty well even with the lack of Spanish professional teams with Fundacion Euskadi, Lizarte, Caja Rural, Seguros Bilbao and RH+ - Polartec - Fundacion Contador, among others, keeping it interesting.
This race is more or less destined to come down to a sprint every year though it does have a few interesting climbs including four trips up the very steep Magacela climb, which is 1200 meters at an average of 9% and a maximum grade that hits a quad-aching 20%.
The race itself was more or less controlled through the early part of the race and it was only towards the very tail end that the nerves were being frazzled. On the final trip up the Magacela climb, an escape of six riders that got a maximum of 15 seconds but thanks to some cooperated efforts by Fundacion Euskadi and others, who were able to bring them back with just over a kilometer to go.
A crash in the final kilometer brought down a few but Fundacion Euskadi's Egoitz Fernandez improved on his 2nd place from last year to take out the Copa de España opener ahead of U23 riders Jon Irisarri (Caja Rural) and Miguel Ballesteros (Fundacion Contador). Fernandez is out of the U23 ranks but has been rising up on the Spanish amateur scene after finishing 2nd overall in the Copa de España.Egoitz Fernández @egoitzf domina el @circuitoguadia y es el primer líder de #CopaEspana https://t.co/y1vTRFPIZf pic.twitter.com/fCDyv8N5fB— AS Más Deporte (@AS_masdeporte) February 21, 2016
The climbers were tucked safely away in the bunch but they will soon have their chance.
Argentina: Juan Pablo Dotti continues on
My favorite Argentinian doper, Juan Pablo Dotti, took two stages of the Vuelta a Mendoza on way to the overall by nearly 4 minutes. Mauricio Graziani was top U23 overall in 5th place.