Andalusian rider excels in first Sanremo appearance, pushes Movistar Team into 2014 WorldTour lead after unfortunate start, with Rojas out after early crash
It started off with misfortune for the Movistar Team, yet it finished with enormous hope on a youngster’s bright future. Juanjo Lobato made a magnificent debut in Milano-Sanremo, again infamously demanding on its 294km entirely covered under cold and rain, by finishing 4th into a reduced field sprint as Alexander Kristoff (KAT) raised his arms. That, in a day where the Blues lost their best hope for the day, José Joaquín Rojas, right in the beginning.
The Spaniard, coming into the Classicissima with excellent legs after Paris-Nice, crashed into the neutral zone. Despite covering the opening stages of the race, pain in his left elbow advised him to abandon. Rojas will head back into Spain tomorrow to undergo convenient medical checks, so as to confirm or rule out any kind of fracture in the area affected by such blow.
Without José Joaquín into the race, their team-mates focused on getting through the first selection, with Lobato, Ventoso, Amador and a notable Dayer Quintana able to get into the bunch at the foot of the Cipressa. From there, a 30-rider group -with Nibali (AST) off the front, later caught- led the two Spaniards into the Poggio, where Lobato showed his great condition, always up-front. The Andalusian got boxed in into the sprint after taking the front in the final straight, to finish on the verge of the podium -Ventoso in 17th-. Far from deceptive, Lobato’s result underlines the future by the young Spanish sprinter and sets the Movistar Team as new leaders of the WorldTour standings.
REACTION / Juanjo Lobato: “I was so excited to come and race here, since I couldn’t do it with Euskaltel last season. There are two races I have always loved: the Worlds and Milano-Sanremo. I could debut here at last and I’m really happy with my result, though it left me sort of a bittersweet taste, because I think I had the legs to be on the podium.
“With cold and rain, a cycle race changes a lot. We suffered it all day long, from the 20th kilometer, so many hours. I had to stop to put on better clothes and shoe covers, because I was feeling so cold, but apart from that, my legs felt really well. I got well through the Cipressa and also climbed well through the Poggio, even waiting for the attacks from Cancellara or Sagan, because I was going really easy and it’s less hard to win into a short group than a bigger bunch. However, I guess there weren’t such strong guys in the field today, and we had to go for the big sprint.
“After almost 300km, the legs on the sprint have nothing to do with a normal one, and though I tried to follow Cavendish’s wheel in the finale, I got a bit out of position and couldn’t make it to the podium. Kristoff was unbeatable today, but the other guys didn’t have better legs than me. Still, I could discover this race and I’ve realized I can contest it in years to come.”