Izagirre wins oldest classic in Spanish cycling for 3rd time, claims Movistar Team's 24th success this year
Picture (c): Rafa Gómez / Ciclismo a Fondo
He fell few centimeters short to raising his arms victorious against Pello Bilbao (CJR) in another Basque classic, Amorebieta, back in April, and in another close contest was finally Gorka Izagirre able to open his victory account in Movistar Team colours. It was his home race, the 91st Prueba Villafranca – Clásica de Ordizia, held on Friday over 170km including five laps over the Abaltzisketa climb and the steep ascent of Gaintza -slopes peaking up to 20%- right next to the finish line.
The older of the two Izagirre brothers crowned dominance from the telephone squad, which controlled in the opening stages and started playing offensively in the last 75km. Jonathan Castroviejo and Dayer Quintana led an eight-rider attempt that was caught in the last lap, leaving room to a five-man counter fearturing José Herrada. The ‘manchego’ went solo in the last passage through Abaltzisketa and reached the foot of Gaintza with few seconds over Luis León Sánchez (CJR). Despite the ex-Blue reaching him down at the top, the reaction from Izagirre and Igor Antón ahead of the main group fostered a three-versus-one situation which favoured the Basque’s chances.
Five movistar -Gorka himself, Herrada (3rd), Antón (4th), Quintana (5th) and Javi Moreno (10th)- made the top-ten of a race that became the 4th pro win for Izagirre, who equals Basque legends Txomin Perurena and Marino Lejarreta in the Ordizia palmarès. It’s also Movistar Team’s 24th success -with nine different riders: Valverde (9), Nairo (5), Malori (4), Dayer, Dowsett, Jesús Herrada, Rojas, Ion and Gorka Izagirre- in the 2014 season.
REACTION | Gorka Izagirre: “We made an excellent work. It was difficult, because everyone was putting their eyes on us, but to avoid having much pressure, we always launched our guys with bigger chances up-front. Dayer and Castroviejo gave it a try halfway through the course, while José escaped in the final lap. To be honest, Herrada had impressive legs and was able to hold on until the finish, while Igor and myself came from behind at the Gaintza climb and reached the duo into the descent. It’s difficult to complete the task in such situations – even though we were three against one, Luisle is a strong rival – he’s a super rider and I was afraid he would beat me into a sprint, but it wasn’t the case and we’re really happy.
“More than the three victories, which are more like an anecdote, I’m happy about these sensations and starting off the second part of the season with a win. I had trained well, but it’s difficult to find good legs in the first race after a long stolp. Fortunately, it was a great day for me. This victory is a tribute to the memory of my friend Urtzi Gurrutxaga, a football player who passed away this year. I’ll always keep him in my heart.”