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José Joaquín Rojas nabbed his second career Spanish national road race championship Saturday, marking the seventh straight year a rider from the Movistar organization has claimed the win.
Five years removed from his 2011 national title in Castellón, Rojas found himself back in the champion’s jersey after an aggressive day of racing in Alicante. Launching multiple attacks on the last of six 34-kilometer laps on a hilly circuit, the 31-year-old jumped clear of the lead group for good in the final 5km.
He managed to hold on out front to cross the finish line four seconds ahead of Katusha’s Ángel Viciso, with Jordi Simón (Verva – ActiveJet) taking third.
Rojas, who mostly rides as a domestique now after several years contending for sprint wins, has been with Movistar (or its previous iteration Caisse d’Epargne) for more than a decade, racing in all seven of the team’s consecutive national championship-winning starts. This year, it was his turn to go for the victory again.
“Should today’s race situation have happened years before today, I’d have probably saved all my energies for the sprint, because I often came out as the fastest at them,” Rojas said. “However, things have changed for me: I just couldn’t wait, because I had the legs to win solo, and I couldn’t reach the finish with Vicioso, either. Despite Ángel getting a bit old, he’s always a very dangerous rider, who can play his cards well. I tried to make things hard into my group, create splits and attack as much as I could.
“I also tried to make my team-mates ride calm behind and avoid any potentially dangerous contenders bridge across. I attacked lots of times into the final lap: I couldn’t make a gap on the first one, then Vicioso was the only one to keep my wheel on the second, and with 5-6 kilometrs to go, I could leave him behind and go for the win.”
The win marks Rojas’s first victory of the season.