Route du Sud (st. 1)
Spanish road champion claims Movistar Team’s 100th victory in Payolle ahead of team-mate Valverde after impressive, attacking performance into final climb
Picture (c): Maxime Lafage – La Route du Sud
Very close to farewelling his twelve-month period as Spanish champion with brilliance after success in Bembibre last June, Jesús Herrada (24 in July) offered the Movistar Team an excellent performance in the opening day of the Route du Sud, over 172km from Lectoure to Payolle with two Cat-3 climbs and a lumpy finish that allowed the Spaniard showing his full potential.
The teamwork by the telephone squad all day reeled back the day’s longest break and kept the pace high before the ascent towards Campan, where Herrada took a first try alongside Kenny Elissonde (FDJ). Reached down with 5k from the finish, the Blue youngster attacked again in the slopes leading up to the finish, joined by Lavieu (LPM) and Juul-Jensen (TCS) whom he later left behind to celebrate his 4th pro success -after the ’13 Nat-Champs road race and stages in Asturias (’12) and Poitou-Charentes (’13)- ahead of Alejandro Valverde, who completed the one-two for the Blues by beating Bouhanni (FDJ) into the field sprint.
Herrada’s success is the 100th for the Movistar Team in three-and-a-half seasons under Telefónica’s sponsorship (21 in 2011; 29 in 2012; 32 last year and 18 so far this season) and the first after the Giro overall for the Spanish squad, who will defend the orange leader’s jersey in a real Tour stage on Saturday: 178km between Bagnères-de-Bigorre and Val Louron (Cat-1) with the famous, previous ascents of the Tourmalet (Cat-1) and the Aspin (Cat-1.)
REACTION | Jesús Herrada: “Our strategy was making the race hard into the climbs to avoid any sprinters reaching the finish with us, especially Bouhanni – even though we didn’t drop him, we could reach the last ascent all of us together, except for Sütterlin, who worked hard all day. I didn’t know the finish, but I had checked it on the Internet and I knew that the last kilometer was less steep. Alejandro was really under control and told me to attack with 5k to go; I made some cuts and later jumped with Jensen, 3k from the finish. He got dropped in the hardest part of the climb and when I reached the ‘flamme rouge’, I knew I had won, because the final section was mainly flat.
“It’s an important victory for my moral, because I had spent a lot of time without racing, since the Tour of Romandie – though I knew I was doing well after twenty days in Sierra Nevada, you never know exactly how you will tank into your first race. The powermeter showed I was in higher bpm’s than usual in the finale, but that’s normal after so much time withouth competing. I took a step forward in Romandie and it was good for me to convince myself I can be close to the top guys in the mountains. Let’s hope it’s a sign I can be into the Tour roster, I’m so excited to make part of it – but for the time being, we’re focused on this race and the National championships. We’ll see how we do tomorrow – we’ll talk to Arrieta and see how we play it, because many of us are strong and we can profit from it. Hoping the legs feel the same tomorrow.”