Ruta del Sol (final report)
Juanjo Lobato wins again with huge margin on Andalucía's closer in Alhaurín; claims third victory for Movistar Team in the race, seventh in 2015. Beñat Intxausti (3rd) joins luxury GC podium alongside Froome, Contador
The 61st Vuelta a Andalucía – Ruta del Sol ended with the best possible result for Juanjo Lobato and the Movistar Team. The Spaniard took yet another convincing win into an uphill sprint as he claimed his second victory of the week -the third for the telephone squad, together with the ITT conquered by Javi Moreno- in Alhaurín, end of the 169km stage five from Montilla.
Javi Moreno and José Herrada made a huge work at the front for the last seventy kilometers to control a nine-man escape which lasted until the final 10k, with Paterski (CCC) as last survivor. Gorka Izagirre's support kept Lobato into top places so the Trebujena-based rider could wait for the appropriate moment -Beñat Intxausti launched an earlier acceleration to secure his podium place- and jump with the strength he's shown all over this week. John Degenkolb (TGA) was second, a few bike lenghts behind.
Movistar Team closes their month of February with seven wins and fantastic overall image and satisfaction. As Beñat Intxausti -3rd in the GC, behind Froome (SKY) and Contador (TCS)- and Valverde -also 3rd in the Tour of Oman– made it into Sunday's overall podiums, Unzué's squad takes a brief racing stop. The Strade Bianche (Saturday, March 7) will be their next outing.
REACTION / Juanjo Lobato: "You can never say you took an easy win, but to be honest, my team-mates made things quite easier for me this team. Especially since they started to push, as well Javi as José, to keep things calmed down into the bunch and not to let the break go away much, and into the final kilometers, with Gorka keeping me in good position. There was some crosswind in the finale and, together with all nerves up and the fight for position… it all made the finish quite difficult. Still, I was telling Gorka to keep going until where he could, to stay calm, because I would look for my distance and give it the final shot.
"Let's hope that victories like this week's make me earn some more respect into the bunch for the important races. For the time being, I look very much forward for these 20-some days of rest before the first block of classics, especially San Remo, which I'm so excited about. This joy has been made possible by the team, but also by my family, my girlfriend… everyone who is always by my side – these wins are dedicated to them."