Bronze medal at ITT Worlds
Basque specialist from Movistar Team overcomes flat, difficult course in Doha to claim bronze in the UCI World Time Championships; completes a sensational late 2016 season, with gold in the European championships and big work alongside Nairo en route to Vuelta success, following his horrible injury in February
At Richmond, during the last World Championships held before today, 13 months ago, Jonathan Castroviejo came just three seconds behind Jérôme Coppel (FRA) for bronze. Over at Rio de Janeiro, just over 60 days ago, he was again beaten, by Chris Froome (GBR), by only four seconds. But today, and yet again by a short margin -just 6" ahead of Maciej Bodnar (POL), making part of a luxurious podium alongside Tony Martin (GER) and Vasil Kiryienka (BLR)-, Castroviejo savoured a well-deserved moment of joy at last, within the very best against the clock. The recently-crowned European TT champion, author of a magnificent late 2016 season following his neck injury in February after crashing against a spectator following the final stage of the Volta ao Algarve, offered the Spanish natinoal team a bronze medal in Doha, venue of a sorching hot ITT Worlds over 40km between the Lusail Sports Complex and The Pearl.
It was a strong start by the 29-year-old Movistar Team rider from the Basque Country, yet he always rode saving some energy for the end. 'Castro' was 6th at the first intermediate check, 13km in, at 16" from Martin, who was already in the lead ahead of Kiryienka (+2"). Jonathan was sitting 8" off the virtual bronze medal position held by a surprising Ryan Mullen (IRL), a margin reduced at the second split (26km), where the Getxo-born cyclist's progression began to let notice. Castroviejo was then only 1" behind the Irishman; 2" off the pace of Rohan Dennis (AUS); and 3" behind Jos Van Emden (NED), whose 'cracking-down' near the end narrowed the contest for bronze to just three men -with Martin in the lead, 21" over Kiryienka and 37" ahead of 'Castro'-. The momentum gained by Castroviejo was ultimately confirmed at the finish, where Jonathan put 17" on Dennis, 11" on Mullen and held a six-second margin against Bodnar, so close to leaving him out of the podium again.
Castroviejo, claiming the 100th podium place in 2016 for Eusebio Unzué's squad, rounds off today a truly brilliant season, arguably the best, for the Movistar Team in its four-decade trajectory, undoubtedly the most consistent under Telefónica's title sponsorship. A year where Castroviejo offered a decisive contribution with his title in Plumelec; his massive help for Nairo Quintana towards glory in the Vuelta; and a medal today with confirms him as one of the best rouleurs in the planet.
Jonathan Castroviejo: "This time it was really to be! I got to keep my pace well over the whole course; obviously you had to lose a bit of speed in the finale due to the long effort, but I felt like riders were going to start off a bit too fast and decided to try and save some energy. The heat and humidity took its toll on all riders and, fortunately, didn't affect me that much today. Obviously, this wasn't a course really suiting me well, but I've got to keep a consistent level lately in all terrains, whether it's a flat TT or a hilly one. This bronze medal really makes me confident for the future. If I've been able to get bronze in such a course and chase good results in such different distances and terrains – 2nd in the Vuelta, 2nd in Poland, the European gold – then we might be able to go for gold someday? Well, who knows. Next year, in Norway, we've got an uphill finish. I hope to have an easier season than this one and get closer to the top. For the time being, I'm super happy with what I got today – it was really hard to get going after my injury in February and the recovery process I had to go through."
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