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Bouhanni's Cofidis team were on the front all day and on the Txomintxu climb, they launched him clear to hold off two-time winner Lobato (Movistar) and defending champ Barbero (Caja Rural).

Photo: Sirotti




31.07.2015 @ 13:49 Posted by Joseph Doherty

Nacer Bouhanni had a slow start to his Cofidis career and only made it through five stages of the Tour de France after looking great in the build-up races. But he has shown good climbing form over the past few years in the 2014 Route du Sud and the 2015 Dauphine. Today he made it over a tough course in the Circuito de Getxo that usually favours puncheurs and uphill sprinters and he then went on to beat Juan Jose Lobato of Movistar and Carlos Barbero of Caja Rural in the finishing sprint up the steep Txomintxu climb.


The Circuito de Getxo is the middle race in a tridium of Basque one-day races that culminates with tomorrow’s Clasica San Sebastian. The race lends itself to fastmen who can haul themselves repeatedly over the 14% maximum Txominxtu climb for ten laps of 17km. As always, the race was expected to come down to a battle between Caja Rural and Movistar, but Nacer Bouhanni and Cofidis were looking to spoil the party.


Under rainy conditions, the race began with the break being established straight away with Mas (Caja Rural), Boev (Rusvelo), Torres (Burgos BH) and Estevez (Murias Taldea) being given a gap. By the end of the first lap they had 1:29 on the bunch.

On the second lap, just as the rain disappeared, so too did Boev, as he ended up back in the bunch, leaving the three others with 2:20 on the bunch led by Movistar.


Over the next few laps things began to settle down, with Caja Rural’s Amets Txurruka crashing on lap three but getting up and back into the bunch not long after. Cofidis came to the fore and upped the pace to reduce the break’s lead to just 2 minutes.


By the end of lap five, the gap had come down to 1:35 as Movistar and Cofidis were now working together in tandom to haul the break back. In the break, Estevez was constantly the first rider over the top of the Txomintxu, meaning he won the mountains competition, with points offered at the finish line for each lap.


Cofidis were never off the front and by lap eight they had upped the pace, leaving the leading trio with just 40 seconds of a gap with 50km remaining. Rusvelo decided with just 50km to go that they would come forward to give Cofidis and Movistar a hand in leading the chase.


Movistar’s Igo Anton attacked towards the end of lap eight and fearing they would need to chase, Rusvelo sent Sergey Firsanov up the road with him. This slowed the peloton up as only Cofidis were chasing and soon the lead trio had a minute on the duo behind, with the peloton another twenty seconds back halfway though the penultimate lap.


As the breaks gap came down to 30 seconds, Estevez attacked on the climb and in the bunch, Ruben Fernandez of Movistar did the same but he had too many riders on his wheel and gave up.


Entering the last lap, Estevez had ten seconds on his break mates and the peloton were just seven seconds back. Eventually the bunch brought them all back and at this point the lead group was just 25 riders. More riders cam back on with just over 3km to go. No attacks came and the bunch looked like they were prepared to decide the winner on the slopes of the Txomintxu.


It was all together inside the flamme rouge and as they headed up the climb, the three main teams of Caja Rural, Cofidis and Movistar began to launch their sprinters as it began to flatten out.


At this point Nacer Bouhanni surged clear, leaving Movistar’s two-time winner Juan Jose Lobato and defending champion Carlos Barbero (Caja Rural) in his wake. The trio were in a class of their own, distancing Jose Joqauin Rojas and the rest of the bunch by three seconds. Bouhanni began to fade but there was not enough road for the two Spaniards to pass him, leaving the Frenchman to take win number seven this season.




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