Local hero takes late downhill attack to fruition at Amorebieta's Klasika Primavera to claim the Movistar Team's 18th win of the 2017 season
Four victories -five, including Dowsett's TT success at the Circuit de la Sarthe- in just seven days. The big week of racing in northern Spain ended up as a resounding success as Gorka Izagirre claimed Sunday's honours in the 63rd Klasika Primavera de Amorebieta (171.5km; photo gallery) with a late solo attack. The Basque's victory marks the 18th triumph -with seven different riders- for Eusebio Unzué's squad in just three months.
After good early work by Dayer Quintana, Moreno and Betancur to control the initial break, Gorka made the decisive, eight-man escape formed at the second of three climbs to Muniketa / Montecalvo. The group was never let gain more than 1' over a bunch led by Caja Rural and Sporting-Tavira, with Rojas, De La Parte and Jesús Herrada sitting tight at their slipstream, waiting for any possible regrouping.
Izagirre, riding close to home and 2nd over the very same finish line three years ago (also runner-up to team-mate Visconti in 2016), fractured the escape with a fast final descent, and won the battle against the other seven escapees despite the short margin -never more than 15"-. Gorka could finally raise his arms victorious after 33 months without a win, the last being his home Prueba Villafranca in Ordizia back in 2014.
Gorka Izagirre: “I really struggled a lot in the finale – I though I wouldn't reach the finish solo. It was high time to win here after two second places. Even though some folks close to us make it seem like it's easy to win a pro race, for most of us it's really hard to have a shot at a victory. I had spent almost three years without a success and that's why this victory makes me so happy. Having such strong leaders is fortunate for us, though it obviously makes hard for others to aim at wins, and you really have to make the most of races like these.
"The truth is, I wasn't feeling great today. I felt a bit stiff during the first Muniketa climb, but later on, as we got through the second pasage, my body sort of got adapted to the racing speed, and once into the breakaway, it was back to all systems good. The breakaway had good riders in it, with all big teams represented, and I was calm by knowing that, if we had been caught, other team-mates (Víctor de la Parte, Jesús Herrada, José Joaquín Rojas) could win the sprint. The gap was really shot at the last summit, so I decided to pick up the pace into the downhill to try and keep it alive further. When I got a gap, I never looked back again. It's been an icnredible week for the team, and this is the best way possible to wrap it up."
Paris-Roubaix: Five Blue heroes reach the Velodrome (photo gallery)
Far behind winner Greg Van Avermaet (BMC), yet as proud as him or even more to finish the race, the Movistar Team's Jasha Sütterlin (40th), Daniele Bennati (41th), Jorge Arcas (60th), Imanol Erviti (61th) and Alex Dowsett (66th) all completed the fastest edition of Paris-Roubaix in history (45.2kph average).
The Italian even featured alongside the top contenders at several sections of the race -he crossed the Arenberg trench just behind race legend Tom Boonen (QST, 13th)-, while the German kept the front until the last seven sections of a race he holds dear and will have many shots at, only aged 24. Arcas and Dowsett also finished the race for the first time.