Spaniard outclasses field with strong attack on Tour du Limousin stage two's finishing slope, puts into yellow with two days to go
Accustomed to often showing his world-class abilities with the heat of August, Jesús Herrada climbed onto the GC lead in the Tour du Limousin after a well-timed attack into the final slope of the hardest stage in the French event, a 1.6km ascent with gradients exceeding 15%, which put an end to a 188km journey with three other rated ascents.
The squad directed by José Luis Laguía tried to go on the attack before Herrada's decisive acceleration, as Rubén Fernández jumped into the Côte de Chaleil (Cat-2), 15km away from the line, together with Chirico (BAR) and Delaplace (BSE). The three were soon caught by a bunch of about 60 riders, which covered the last uphill as a block until the move by Herrada opened a gap no one could fight to bring back. The peloton, 10" back, was led home by Davide Rebellin (CCC).
"We had to sacrifice Eros Capecchi pushing at the front yesterday," explained Laguía after the stage, "so as to avoid the break going too far and jeopardize our GC chances -with so many Continental teams, the racing is crazier and usually there's less strength to control, as we saw previously here-. We knew that today's stage would be the best to profit from our chances. We attacked with Rubén, trying not to let the field ride easily and making things harder after a pretty easy day. He even rode solo until he was caught on the foot of the last climb -he really showed to be strong today, as he finished 6th into the sprint- and we hoped for Jesús's chances in the finale, which he profited from with great class."
A win Herrada "couldn't see"
Herrada's victory, the 7th in his professional career and the Movistar Team's 29th so far this season, also awards him a signfiicant advantage in the GC after taking 10" across the line, which broke the tie into bonus seconds with former leader Sonny Colbrelli (BAR). Jesús will fight to stay in yellow alongside a powerful telephone squad -with four of the Blues into the main peloton today- until Friday, with stage three on Thursday bringing again lumpy roads on the way to Aigurande (185.9km.)
“It certainly looks like these races in France suit me well,” smiled Herrada when remembering his two consecutive victories in Poitou-Charentes in 2013 & 2014, the four-day event being raced next week. “I had checked the finale on the Internet and knew that the hardest slopes of the climb were at the beginning and it eased with 300m to go. I think I jumped 1.2km from the line, surely before the 'flamme rouge'; I was a bit worried, because a rider from Topsport Vlaanderen had jumped shortly before I did, and I didn't see him being caught because the roads were narrow. When I was riding away alone I had some doubts, where is he? I couldn't see. That's why I didn't raise my arms when crossing the line.
"Ever since the end of the Giro, as well in Baku as in the Nationals, Ordizia, Burgos… I was always on front, doing well, and I hope to keep the pace until the end of the season, starting with taking this jersey until Friday. It's harder to control the race in Limousin with these lumpy roads, up and down all day, and it'll be difficult for us to keep it, but we have some strong riders here. Bonus seconds might play a decisive role, in case that we get sprint finishes. Colbrelli already took 10" seconds winning yesterday, these two stages aren't bad for him and he might be the biggest rival, but we mustn't think about defending, rather than attacking and giving our best.”
Pictures ©: Xavier Riboulet / Tour du Limousin