Severe route modification in Clásica de Almería
Rojas takes 10th in Roquetas de Mar after horrible wind gusts force to neutralise race, turn it into city course. Howard (IAM) wins bunch sprint
Polemics overshadowed the 29th Clásica de Almería on Sunday, continuation to racing in southeastern Spain after Alejandro Valverde's second place in the Vuelta a Murcia. The Andalusian event was strongly affected by wind, blowing from early in the morning with gusts over 70kph, which already forced a meeting in Almería prior to the race including organisers, the race jury, riders and teams.
After all choosing to keep the original route unchanged (184km) and covering – with dangerous lateral and head winds – less than 30 kilometers during the first hour of racing, a series of horrible gusts forced the peloton to stop and look for shelter, as they headed back to the finish place in Roquetas de Mar. "The crosswinds were so strong that you could make your bike become a sail and be expelled to the ditch if you didn't ride strong or remained still," explained DS José Luis Arrieta after the temporary neutralisation. "I even had to save some riders from the wind with the team car to avoid them crashing, before it was decided to go back."
Around the Reino de España avenue, where a circuit finish was already scheduled, a new, 21-kilometer race was proposed with six laps of the original loop, with Leigh Howard (IAM) taking the better from a bunch sprint. Even into that urban course, winds were so strong that splits in the field were inevitable. José Joaquín Rojas was the Movistar Team's best performer and only able to survive in the first group, 10th over the finish.
Picture ©: Photo Gomez Sport / Luis Ángel Gómez