While the cobblestone specialists hog the spotlight ahead of Sunday’s Tour of Flanders, riders who will take over in the Ardennes sharpened their form in an exciting battle at the GP Miguel Indurain in Spain.
Samuel Sánchez took the first win of the year for Euskaltel-Euskadi in a wild ride that saw flurries of attacks over the hilly course in Spain’s Navarra region. Sánchez attacked late in the climb-riddled route to win for the first time since the Vuelta a Burgos last August.
The top 10 was sprinkled with names that will be battling for the trophies at Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège later this month. Alexander Kolobnev (Katusha), a podium man in last year’s Liège, crossed the line second at just two seconds adrift. Fabian Wegmann (Leopard-Trek) rounded out the podium with third at seven seconds back.
Garmin-Cervélo put two in the top 10, with Ryder Hesjedal crossing the line fourth and Christophe Le Mevel coming through eighth.
The race was active from the gun, with the likes of Peter Stetina (Garmin-Cervélo) and Andy Schleck (Leopard-Trek) working into early moves that were checked in the frenetic action in the opening 90km. The day’s main break formed when Pablo Lastras (Movistar) led the charge, with Amets Txurruka (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Belda (Burgos 2016) pulling clear to build a three-minute lead with 60km to go.
Leopard-Trek led the chase for two-time winner Wegmann, but Vasiliy Kiryienka (Movistar) tried to surprise the bunch with a counterattack just as the day’s main break was being neutralized in the closing 10km. Kiryienka held a slender lead over the El Puy ramp when Sánchez bounded out of the reduced lead pack to hammer home victory.
- 1. Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Esp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, 4:42:47
- 2. Alexandr Kolobnev (Rus), Team Katusha, at 0:02
- 3. Fabian Wegmann (Ger), Leopard-Trek, at 0:07
- 4. Ryder Hesjedal (Can), Garmin-Cervélo, at 0:07
- 5. Angel Madrazo Ruiz (Esp), Movistar, at 0:07