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UBEDA, Spain (VN) — Alexey Lutsenko is one-for-one so far in 2022, not a bad average.
The Kazakh from Astana-Qazaqstan left everyone choking on his dust Monday to win the debut Jaén Paraíso Interior in his 2022 season debut.
Lutsenko, 29, went straight from Spain’s Teide volcano and parachuted straight into Jaén’s “sea of olives” to win with an exclamation mark.
“It’s my first race of the season and a very hard one to start with, but I did a good two-week stint on Teide at altitude with the team,” he said. “It’s always nice to start with good morale.”
Lutsenko was impressive Monday, riding away from everyone on a 188km route laced with sharp climbs. The 40km of gravel roads were all on climbing sections, so he could use his Teide-fueled legs to ride everyone off his wheel.
“The last sterrato was the hard part, and I went alone the second to last time, and felt good,” he said. “But it was a very tough climb and then I got more of a gap. They all got dropped and I thought better to get a time.”
Lutsenko seems to be a budding gravel specialist. He won a non-sanctioned gravel race last year in Italy that was organized by ex-pro Filippo Pozzato, and he just knocked off Spain’s version of the Italian Strade Bianche
“This isn’t my first experience with gravel, I was up there last year as well and won that race [in Italy],” he said. “This was harder though, Lotto were giving it a lot of grief all the way through. And everybody’s fresh so it was hard. But I found my pace and I could get away.”
But he won’t be going to the real Strade Bianche next month.
He’s raced Strade Bianche five times, and popped into the top-10 with seventh in 2019.
“I’m doing Paris-Nice, all the Ardennes, maybe Flanders. And the Tour de France,” he said. “Not Strade Bianche, unfortunately.”
Some of his rivals might be glad he’s not going.