Manama : Bahrain Merida team cyclist Jon Izaguirre (4 hours 2 minutes 28 seconds) was classified fifth after the first stage of the Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta Ciclista Del Sol between Rincon de la Victoria and
Malaga, a distance of 155kms and the same time as the top four cyclists.
First place went to Spaniard Alejandro Valrerde of the Movistar Team, second was Dutchman Wout Poels of Team Sky, Sebastian Reichenbach of FDJ team from Switzerland was third and Italian Diego Rosa for Team Sky was fourth.
The race started with optimal weather conditions, with a N/NW wind of 15 km/h, flat first 20 km by the coast with lots of roundabouts.
Immediately after achieving the mountains and mountain ranges at 35km, a group of 6 and soon 7 riders went for a breakaway up to 4,5 minutes, which was also the day’s biggest gap.
After the first climb at El Navazo (56,5 km, 1.088m), the gap started to get smaller and smaller, up to the highest peak of the stage Monachil El Purché (136.1 km, 1.410m. This climb was decisive for the
upfront riders – the peloton caught them. At the same time Valverde and Alberto Contador broke away from the group, just a few seconds before Izaguirre with the great support of his team-mate Javier Moreno.
Valverde took the lead on the downhill, before Contador, Izaguirre, Rosa and Reichenbach joined the upfront riders just by the entrance of the City of Granada, one kilometer before the finish.
Izaguirre, expressed his happiness with a big smile: “It was an extraordinary and great race all the way to the finish, with Valverde, who took the best position for the sprint, a little ahead of us. I would really like to thank everyone on my team who helped me and Javier throughout the whole race and worked really, really hard for us and our team. I am glad that we are runner-ups in the team classification and it definitely gives us strong motivation for stage two and for all the stages of Ruta de Andalusia.”
Moreno said that he is happy with the outcome of the race and that he feels that he is getting better with each race. He is also very thankful for the team effort and is very glad that the younger team-mates were so mature and excellent in all the responsibilities they got before the race.
Team director Harald Morscher said after the race that he is proud and happy that the team has three highly classified riders and is second in the teams classification.
“Let me congratulate Ion and Javier, but also Ondrej Cink, who proved how good he is and how fast he adapted from the MTB to the road cycling. This gives us proof that we can trust in him even more. Ivan Garcia was really fighting today for the whole team, Yukiya, Antonio, Domen too. I would like to congratulate everyone for the great teamwork and for carrying out our strategy exactly as we agreed before the race. That is how we see Bahrain Merida Pro Cycling Team.”
Vladimir Miholjević, team director expressed that this mix of experience and youth gives us a right to believe in a successful future of this team: “They all contributed to today’s success. Now we are motivated for the other stages of Ruta da Sol 2017.”