28 Feb 2018
Córdoba hosted the BUFF® Stage of the Andalucía Bike Race presented by Shimano with a tough and demanding course for the mountain bike racers. The day’s challenge came not only from the stage profile, but also from the course conditions. An intense rain that fell during the night, left the roads and trails with lots of mud, making for an epic finish. After a more than two-and-a-half hour stage, the classification is as follows:
1º Fabian Rabeinsteiner - Trek Selle San Marco – 02:34:23
2º Michele Casagrande - Trek Selle San Marco - +00:00:01
3º Miguel Muñoz - BUFF® Scott MTB - + 00:00:53
1ª Hildegunn Hovdenak - VPG – 03:10:51
2ª Chloe Woodruff - Stan's / Pivot Pro p/b MAXXIS - +00:06:46
3ª Naima Diesner - MCipollini / Tuspo Weende Hovdenak – VPG - +00:07:52
1º Tiago Ferreira - DMT Racing – 09:29:51
2º Hans Becking – DMT Racing - +00:00:19
3º Keegan Swenson – Stan’s/Pivot Pro p/b MAXXIS +00:01:45
1ª Hildegunn Hovdenak – VPG – 11:50:18
2ª Naima Madlen Diesner – MCIpollini/Tuspo Weende - + 00:05:52
3ª Chloe Woodruff – Stan’s-Pivot Pro p/b MAXXIS - +00:05:54
The BUFF® stage was a stage that will go down in history. The day began with everything at stake. The DMT team wanted to achieve the same feat they did the previous day — to control the stage and stack the podium. That said, Tiago Ferreira, José Díaz, and Hans Becking went to the front of the race from the gun. Due to severe weather conditions and, in order to ensure the safety of participants, race organizers, together with UCI officials, made the decision to take out a 30 km section. This was something that would favor the racing style of the GC leader, Tiago Ferrerira. Despite this, local racer Miguel Muñoz of the BUFF® Scott MTB team made a solo break. He was racing on home turf and wanted to prove it with a solo breakaway that lasted 30 km.
The Italians of TREK Selle San Marco, Fabián Rabensteiner and Michele Casagrande, overtook him by the stage’s end and left him with no chance to finish first in Córdoba. The tremendous effort by the Cordovan earned him third place. Muñoz said that, "the stage was very hard. Before Las Jaras I decided to go for it because I knew the area and I thought I would finish big, but the TREK Selle San Marco racers passed me going strong and I was unable to grab their wheel. A third place finish is more than I expected, and for that I am very happy.”
Upon arriving in Cordoba, Rabensteiner stated that, "it was difficult because the weather conditions haven’t been the best. There was lots of water and mud on the course, but I felt good from the start and always tried to be in the lead group." The Italian added that, "on the last descent we managed to gain some time and, along with my teammate we were able to catch the two from the BUFF ® Scott MTB team and score a nice double.”
In the women's category, Chloe Woodruff started the stage after losing time in the previous day’s stage. The American reached the first climb of the day ahead of the GC leader, Natalia Fischer. With such a day of cold and rain in Cordoba, the Málagan didn’t feel well and had to abandon the race at kilometer 26 due to hypothermia.
Racing in the Elite Women’s category was fierce, but glory finally went to Hildegunn Hovdenak, who snatched the stage from Chloe Woodruff and Naima Diesner. The German racer of the MCIPOLLINI-TUSPO WEENDE squad tried to come back in the final part and managed to close in on Woodruff, but the gap was significant. After attempting to close the gap, Naima indicated that, "The stage for me was very hard. There was lots of mud on the course and I had to be very careful on some descents, since they were very technical.” Despite all that, joy and satisfaction were evident on the German’s face, who added that, "I am very happy with how it’s gone so far. Honestly, I didn’t expect to be able to compete for the podium. So I'm very happy to be with these girls, these top girls. And of course I will finish the race with everything I’ve got. I'm more confident on the descents and I know I can do a good job, so I'll be in the mix; I'm ready and I'll give it everything I’ve got."
STAGE 5 (XCM) - Villaviciosa de Córdoba - 53.35 km // 1.363 m+
Without a break, the fifth stage heads to Villaviciosa de Córdoba. The Cordovan town makes its debut in the Andalucía Bike Race presented by Shimano by offering a day that will stand out for its landscapes, and for the section that runs along the shore of the Puente Nuevo reservoir, at its central part. The stage’s first half is very fast while the second half will be decisive — especially the hard climb to Los Mirabuenos. After a technical descent, racers will return to the town’s vicinity to climb to the Aire pass where the final technical descent awaits them.