Youngster from Mota del Cuervo crowned at Bembibre Nat-Champs -just aged 22- after great Movistar Team tactics, follows the path started by Blue champions Rojas and Ventoso
Movistar Team continue their impressive streak in the Spanish road race championships as one of their riders claimed the professional title again. While their two fast men, José Joaquín Rojas and Fran Ventoso, were the ones to take the titles in 2011 and 2012, it was time today for youngster Jesús Herrada. The rider from Mota del Cuervo in Cuenca, just 22, will wear the Spanish champion jersey for the next twelve months after winning the race held in Bembibre (León) over 208 kilometers of tricky roads that took their toll over a front group of about 40 riders after a hectic race where the telephone squad always kept control of the situation. Herrada ended up winning with a slender margin over Ion Izagirre (EUS) after the duo stayed away in the final kilometers over a group of favourites -including Plaza, Erviti, Madrazo and José Herrada- charging to chase them down and featuring a notable José Joaquín Rojas (4th), one step off the podium as in last year’s race.
The event was marked by an opening breakaway of five riders, where Movistar Team initially put Imanol Erviti before bridging with a superb Fran Ventoso, in a solo pursuit where he took 5 minutes on the leaders. The now-former Spanish champion took command of the escape before dropping with 50k remaining and leaving Erviti alongside Astarloza (EUS) at the front. Movistar Team made the junction with 20k remaining, when Jesús Herrada became the major protagonist of the race. A solo attack in one of the final climbs took him into a group with Ángel Madrazo, Zaballa (CRW), Arroyo (CJR), Iturria (EUK) and Izagirre (EUS), the man from La Mancha going away again with the Basque at the 2k banner and dropping him for the victory with a finisseur action under the ‘flamme rouge’. It’s Herrada’s second pro victory after taking stage 2a in the Vuelta a Asturias last year, and his fourth Spanish champion jersey after the two claimed in the time trial as junior (2007 and ’08) and 2010, in the under-23 ranks.
Movistar Team will reach the start of the Tour de France with their best victory tally in three years in Blue: 23 triumphs that bring joy and confidence to the Spanish squad.
REACTION / Jesús Herrada (2013 Spanish champion):
“When Erviti and Astarloza went away, we decided to chase on full steam and play our cards in the finale by making things as hard as possible into the climbs. I attack with Madrazo in one of those, and at the final slope, with 3k to go, I moved again with Izagirre. We cooperated well until the last kilometer when I attacked – I knew it was hard to beat him into a sprint – and it went well. At the strategy talk yesterday, we knew we had seven or eight riders to win, also Fran and Rojas for the sprint, but in the end, we decided to give it a try with Ángel or myself to drop the other sprinters. The work from all my team-mates was fantastic, and Ventoso’s was simply amazing. His labour, as well as Imanol’s, was crucial so we could ride easy behind and work only in the finale. We had a strong majority in the decisive point of the race and we took advantage of it. If they told me yesterday I would be winning today, I wouldn’t believe them, but I can’t believe it now either (laughs). I came here with the intention of doing a good race in the TT, but it didn’t go well. This victory is for my family, for the team, for an old team-mate from my under-23 age, Rubén Cuesta, who is going through a hard time in his life, and for Rufino Murgia, who passed away today. This gives me confidence for the future, because 2012 wasn’t a good season for me – despite the win in Asturias, it turned out badly for me, and I didn’t kick off this season well either – the April classics were hard for me and I couldn’t bounce back until the Tour de Suisse. It’s hard to know which kind of a rider am I, but I do well in one-week stageraces, especially those ones with a TT, and also in hard one-day races. We’ll see how I evolve in the future.”