Critérium du Dauphiné (st. 2)
25-year-old ex-Spanish champion claims first WorldTour victory with outstanding sprint in Chalmazel's uphill finish, claims his first win in 2016 – and the Movistar Team's 22nd, with nine different riders – to jump into 6th overall in Critérium du Dauphiné GC
He had claimed victories in nearly every possible way: attacking into mountain finishes, using his tactical nose to perfection into one-to-one finishes, or beating some quick guys into reduced field sprints. But he had never done it with so much fury, and against such talented riders, as he did on Tuesday at the Critérium du Dauphiné. Jesús Herrada exploited the abilities he's developed over the course of six years as pro -yet still being 25 years old- to dominate Chalmazel's slopes (stage two, 168km) and claim an impressive, maiden stage win in 2016 thanks to an intelligent Movistar Team on the way to the final Cat-3 climb.
The squad directed by Arrieta and Laguía knew how to keep their plan untouched until the finish, waiting for their moment. It wasn't until the final 6km uphill, already left behind the wear and tear of the Côte de Saint-Georges (Cat-2), where the Blues started to play their cards, five strong into a 60-rider group. Dayer Quintana went on the attack, following the wheel of Sergio Henao (SKY), one of several big attackers into the ups and downs before the finish, before Dani Moreno, always keeping the remnants of the day's most dangerous move in sight -a four-rider attempt including Frenchman Tony Gallopin (LTS)-, paved the way for Herrada, who launched an unstoppable acceleration, mostly what Alejandro Valverde has offered for more than a decade, to claim his eighth success in the pro ranks and the Movistar Team's 22nd – with nine different riders – so far in 2016.
The win, the 10-second bonus and the two-second advantage over the main favourites leave Jesús in 6th place overall, 27" behind Alberto Contador (TNK), with Dani Moreno at 1'13". Both will seemingly play the leading role for the Movistar Team in the Alpine course, which will tackle another intriguing finish on Wednesday with the Côte de Sécheras (Cat-2) just 21km away from Tournon-sur-Rhône. Until then, we just can't stop enjoying today's success.
Jesús Herrada: “I'm so happy to have won in such an important race, against so many talented riders. The pace during the stage was steady, without any real drops, but despite Tinkoff leading for the whole race, there was some point when the breakaway got five or six minutes, and that forced Etixx to take the lead and push hard. That rhythm before the climbs left only one chance and one thing to do for us: follow the wheels and save energy until the ascents.
"The team managed the situation perfectly. Fran and Marc kept us well protected, Antonio helped out as much as he could and it was Rubén and Dayer's task, mostly Dayer, to follow those moves. I knew the finish, I kept in mind that it was so good for me, but at the same time, I couldn't spend a bit of energy more than I should, because I only had that one opportunity: the sprint.
"I tried to save that bit for the end and succeded to keep myself calm until the final 500 meters, when Dani attacked, the break was finally caught and I saw my place to try the move into the final turn. I'm immensely happy with how things played out."
Picture ©: Luca Bettini / BettiniPhoto.net