Basque climber rounds off magnificent ride by Movistar Team, joining long breakaway with Gorka Izagirre and Giovanni Visconti (4th) and bringing Eusebio Unzué's squad its sixth success of 2016
Ion Izagirre took a prestigious victory today in the town of Estella, deep in the region of Navarre, where Eusebio Unzué's professional cycling team was created almost four decades ago. Around him, the Movistar Team showcased its strength in depth. Directed by José Luis Arrieta, the team helped Ion Izagirre to a superb win in the GP Miguel Indurain – 191km, with a series of testing climbs in the second half of its parcours – with every member of the telefónicos giving his best for success.
Carlos Betancur, Marc Soler and Jesús Herrada controled an early 14-man breakaway that formed built after a furious first hour of racing, that saw almost 49 km covered. They never allowed the gap to strentch beyond four minutes. Next, Nairo Quintana ripped the peloton to pieces on the Category 1 Alto de Guirguillano. Then, on the descent from the Guirguillano, nearly 60km from the finish, Gorka Izagirre, Giovanni Visconti and Ion himself made it into the decisive, 12-rider split, covered from behind by a vigilant Dani Moreno.
The leading group shattered when Visconti attacked on the Cat-2 Alto de Eraul. Only Sergio Henao (SKY) could follow the move, but Ion followed close on the Colombian’s wheel. Visco and Ion took turns to attack Henao, tiring him before the final climb. On the Puy, Henao could not match Ion’s speed. It is Ion's fifth success as pro cyclist – all of them prestigious wins: a stage in the Giro, the Tour de Poland overall, the Spanish national road race championships, a time trial in the Tour of Asturias – and it is the Movistar Team’s sixth win so far in 2016. Going into next week’s Vuelta al País Vasco, the team is looking strong. Ion dedicated his win to Adriano Malori, who was on the finish line today.
Ion Izagirre: “It was sensational, incredible. Winning is hard, and even more so here at home. It became even trickier early on when the group of 14 got away and we didn't have a rider in it. The team reacted superbly. I'd put the win down to teamwork: everyone played their part. Soler and Betancur pushed from the very start; Nairo worked on the Gurguillano climb, and ‘Txutxi’ (Jesús Herrada) did his bit. The whole group rode brilliantly.
“In the end, there was a split with three Sky riders and three of us. Gorka left it all out on the road to protect the gap and Visco tried to surprise everyone with a move at the foot of Eraul. When Henao jumped across, I knew I had to stick on his wheel. That final spate of attacks left me with Henao, and I knew his explosive acceleration is perfect for that sort of finish, so I was a wary of his attacks. I saved energy for the end, and jumped after the final right turn, trying to give everything that my legs had left… and it was good enough to take the win.
"This win is the proof that we have worked well, done our homework, and in good form going into the Itzulia. Nairo is also in great shape. He has just won the Volta. I'm feeling good too, and, apart from the two of us, we have a great team, so let's hope it goes well for us.”
Picture ©: Photo Gomez Sport / Luis Ángel Gómez