Superb Jonathan storms to win in tough Soria course, more than one minute ahead of Landa (SKY) despite a bike change, completes splendid Movistar Team performance with Herrada in bronze, five riders within best six. Sütterlin, Dowsett take silver medals in Germany, Britain
The Movistar Team ends a sweet first two days in their journey through the National Championships in Europe in style, with four medals and a sensational victory in Spain – his third, after 2013 and 2015 – by European TT title holder Jonathan Castroviejo. Suffering from pain in his ribs and intestine until few days before the weekend due to a crash on stage two of the Tour de Suisse, the Getxo-born cyclist dominated the 43km Spanish national TT in Soria, a windy, lumpy course with lots of ups-and-downs in its first half. A route perfect for the Eusebio Unzué-led group to show its strengths once again.
‘Castro’, affected by a mechanical failure and subsequent bike change during today's ride, was still the fastest through the only official intermediate check (20.9km), yet with a slim, 16-second gap over Mikel Landa (SKY) – who ended up claiming silver – and 30 seconds on team-mate Imanol Erviti. At the second half, though, the high speeds and long straights much favoured Jonathan, who opened his gap decisively to cross the line 1’08” ahead. After the two main contenders, Jesús Herrada – who was only 6th at the intermediate split – completed a fantastic comeback to claim bronze (+1’25”), 23” ahead of Marc Soler (4th). Erviti (5th) and De la Parte (6º) rounded off a magnificent display from the main home outfit.
The Nationals' TTs brought another two medals for the Movistar Team, which saw Jasha Sütterlin taking another huge step in his splendid progression as a top rider to finish again second in Germany (48km in Chemnitz) – yet just 15" behind world champion Tony Martin (KAT). An identical second place, only 8” behind Stephen Cummings (DDD), saw Alex Dowsett coming close to his record-breaking sixth British TT title in the Isle of Man (44.4km).
The day's negative notes came from Daniele Bennati, whose stomach problems 25km into the Italian TT course from Ciriè to Caluso forced him to abandon; and Nelson Oliveira, unable to even take the start in Santa Maria da Feira (Portugal) as a change in the start times – not conveniently notified to him – prevented the man from Aveiro to compete for a fourth win in the event.
Jonathan Castroviejo (via Spanish Cycling Federation): "I had to withdraw from the Tour de Suisse with that pain in my stomach, which made me difficult to assimilate any food I took, but my condition – as shown on the opening TT – was really good. I spent three days completely off the bike and got back to it searching for those good feelings, then I started thinking about this championship. It was both a test on how I was doing on the bike before the Tour and also a bid for that third title.
"The race was incredibly tough: the strong winds, the heat, the slopes. I had a little mechanical during the race and I had to switch bikes, so I didn’t have any references on the power meter. I had to use my instinct, but managed myself well over the second half of the race. I think the gaps were really made on that part, with such strong head winds. It’s a distance which suits me well, I always do great at TTs lasting roughly an hour.
"We were keeping track of our team-mates’ performances at many points with several team members and, at the final 4km, with that descent followed by the sharp entrance to the city, I was told I had more than one minute on the race and was confident I could take this one."
Picture (c): Photo Gomez Sport / Luis Ángel Gómez