Friday the 13th brought good luck to Manuel Cardoso, who delivered a big win for his modest Caja Rural team in Friday’s opener at the three-day Vuelta a Castilla y León in northern Spain.
Cardoso delivered the first win of the year for the Pro Continental Caja Rural squad, which is hoping to earn a bid to the Vuelta a España later this season.
Cardoso outkicked Enrique Sanz (Movistar) to win the first of three stages at the Castilla y León tour. Francisco Pacheco (Gios-Deyser) crossed the line third.
It took more than an hour of racing before the day’s main breakaway stuck in the rolling country south of Salamanca, along Spain’s western plain.
After the peloton pulled back several breaks, four riders pulled clear at about 50km: Walter Pedraza (EPM-UNE), Romain Zingle (Cofidis), Sergey Shilov (Lokosphinx) and Alexander Wetterhall (Endura). The quartet opened up a gap of seven minutes as Rabobank, with Theo Bos and Graeme Brown in the peloton, controlled the front of the field.
Rabobank started to turn the screws on the way back into Salamanca. Strong crosswinds split the peloton, but the race was all back together with 5km to go to set up a mass gallop.
Cardoso, who raced for RadioShack last year and won a stage at the Volta a Catalunya, made easy work of the bunch to notch his first victory on the 2012 season.
With time bonuses, the Portuguese sprinter will carry a four-second lead into Saturday’s second stage at Ávila.
With four second-category summits, the GC favorites will need to be on the alert.