Movistar Team takes bronze in Richmond after sensational performance from Izagirre, Malori, Dowsett, Amador, Sütterlin and Castroviejo sees Blues climbing up to lead in 2015 UCI WorldTour, with only Il Lombardia remaining
The building of a hard-working, well-bonded squad to offer its best performance in arguably the most technical speciality in road cycling, the team time trial, paid off for the Movistar Team on Sunday as Eusebio Unzué's squad claimed in Richmond, Virginia, its first medal in the 2015 UCI World Championships. The Blues finished third, 19" behind Etixx-QuickStep (silver) and just 30" away from the winners, BMC Racing Team, after 38.8km covered at an incredible average speed close to 55kph, despite two little climbs into the second part of the parcours.
As many other times before in previous years, the telephone squad based its great result on overall power more than individual efforts. Amador, Castroviejo, Dowsett, Ion Izagirre, Malori and Sütterlin rode like one, regular and consistent for most of the route, climbing up from 6th provisional after 10km to fourth in the second intermediate check (17km) and, eventually, third with 7km remaining, as their deficit against Australian outfit Orica-GreenEdge -the Blues' biggest rivals for bronze- was turned into advantage in the hardest section. Ion, 'Castro', Andrey and Jasha crossed the line together, 23" ahead of the fourth spot.
The medal taken by the Spanish group brings together another prize: the lead in the UCI WorldTour team ranking, 33 points over Katusha (1,559 vs 1,526) which the Movistar Team will have to defend on Sunday, October 4th, once the Worlds are over, at Il Lombardia, the last of the five monuments and the final event of the UCI's top tier, where the Unzué-led group is very close to making history again.
Eusebio Unzué: "I think this is the confirmation of our huge progression on team time trials throughout these years. They brought us many good results in the past, but it's something bigger to step onto the podium in the World Championships at last – all teams with TT specialists bring their A-team here and make many efforts to perform at their best, and in such a difficult scenario, we were able to claim bronze.
"To sum things up, I'd say that the boys would hardly be able to best this result. Everyone was on top of their game: the riders most suited for the flat took responsibility in the 'easier' sections, while Castro and Ion pushed hard into the climbs. All six were remarkable, staying together until practically the final kilometer, and even Jasha, the youngest of the group, was able to keep the pace into the final meters to confirm our bronze medal. We saw during the TT that fighting for gold and silver would be hard, but we got to keep out progression to overcome Orica into the second part of the route, and the final taste was really, really good.
"We had a chance to make up some of the gap to Katusha in the WorldTour standings here, and we not only did that, but also put some points on them we'll have to defend at Lombardy – it's not a huge gap, but it's an important one. Regarding Wednesday's ITT, I think there are five or six names which wouldn't surprise anyone if they took gold – and I dream of Jonathan and Adriano being up there for a podium place. Even though it's not an ideal course for them, especially for Castro, today's performance will be a massive confidence boost, and both are in perfect fitness – also Jonathan, who recovered well after his crash in Québec, which kept him away from the bike for nearly five days.
"Next Sunday? I think it's still premature to talk about the road race. It's a particular course, which could or could not suit sprinters. If it does, Juanjo (Lobato) could be contesting the medals. And there's the man who never fails, Alejandro (Valverde). For him, it doesn't matter how the route is: he will be up there. And even though he wasn't part of the TTT group, he will be really motivated after this bronze."