Volta ao Algarve / Vuelta a Andalucía (st. 2)
Promising performance by the younger of the Izagirre brothers, courageous in Fóia – now sits 13" behind Sánchez (AST) in GC. Lobato 6th in Andalucía, jumps onto second overall
Ion Izagirre (Movistar Team) continues to perform well in the early season, with results still not matching his performances. The Ormaiztegi-born cyclist was one of the most active riders in the finale of stage two in the Volta ao Algarve -199km with a lumpy four climbs in the second half of the route, plus a mountain-top finish in Fóia (Cat-1)-, which the group directed by José Luis Jaimerena starred for good and wrong reasons.
After a crash with no injuries in the beginning of the stage for Andrey Amador, three from the Blues made it through the first major selection created by the Alto da Pomba (Cat-2): Ion Izagirre -who crossed the summit in 1st place-, Nelson Oliveira and Jonathan Castroviejo. The latter suffered a crash into the descent -with bruises in his knee and hip as a result- and was left behind by the leaders, yet he could finish the stage. To make up his absence, Nelson attacked with Stybar (EQS), Gesink (TLJ) and Rosa (AST) in a surprise move before the foot the Fóia ascent; the attempt was caught with just over 1km to go.
Izagirre attacked strong in the later phase, but was left out of energy for the sprint as Sánchez (AST, 1st and new GC leader), Thomas (SKY, 2nd) and Roglic (TLJ, 3rd) went past. The new overall standings see the former Spanish road champion jumping onto 4th, 13” down on Sánchez, with two stages on Friday and Sunday still to decide the final outcome. A 18km individual time trial in Sagres, around the Cabo Sao Vicente, will follow next.
Lobato boxed in after first hills in Andalucía
Bad luck stroke Juanjo Lobato again, the local crowd’s favourite unable to get a good position for the sprint on day two of the Vuelta a Andalucía (186km) as Nacer Bouhanni (COF) claimed the day’s honours and the leader’s jersey. Juanjo finished 6th in Córdoba after an exquisite work from his team-mates: controlling the bunch with Dani Moreno into the descent of the Cat-3 Alto de Trassierras; attentive with Alejandro Valverde; and hopeful about Lobato’s chances into a finish he would later regret about.
The Trebujena-based rider now sits in 2nd overall and could well aim for a shot at the red jersey tomorrow in Padul (157.9km), despite the Puerto del Valle (Cat-2) being over 15km away from the finish and allowing a major regrouping like today’s. With no bonus seconds and no splits in the field either for the GC contenders, Valverde stays in good position before Saturday’s crucial ITT in Alhaurín.
Juanjo Lobato: “I had set three ‘checkpoints’ on my day’s performance: the first one was reaching the KOM in good position; the second, not losing it into the descent; and the third one, to get a good line for the sprint and start it in free air. However, the third one was impossible for me: there was some swerving with 700 meters to go, after the last turn left, I got boxed in and it was too late for me when I got back from where I was.
“Having a guy like Alejandro helping you out into the sprint is a honour, and makes it even more painful not to pay him back as well as the team with a victory. For a sprinter, taking 2nd or 3rd on stage or overall doesn’t matter: only victory counts, and I hope to take it tomorrow. I’m feeling well and I hope that any of us two, the ‘boss’ or myself, can bring something good on Friday.”