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Having escaped with Henao in the finale, Izagirre beat the Colombian in the two-rider uphill sprint at the GP Miguel Indurain; Moser finished on the podium in third

Photo: Movistar Team










02.04.2016 @ 18:21 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Ion Izagirre (Movistar) proved that he is ready for one of his biggest goals of the season by riding to an impressive victory in the hilly Spanish one-day race, GP Miguel Indurain. Having joined a strong 11-rider group that escaped after the hardest climb, he found himself with just Sergio Henao (Sky) for company in the uphill sprint and managed to hold off the Colombian. Moreno Moser (Cannondale) was the best of the rest and finished third.


Ion Izagirre may be known as a stage race specialist but he can actually do well in one-day races too. Last year he was very close to victory in the hilly GP Miguel Indurain but after having worked for his teammate Benat Intxausti, he had to settle for third and was left wondering what might have been as he was clearly stronger than he fellow Basque.


This year there were no such issues as Izagirre was one of the leaders of a very strong Movistar team for their home race and this time he made no mistakes. Having been joined by his brother Gorka and Giovanni Visconti in the decisive 11-rider group, he was the protected rider and he paid back his teammates by taking an impressive win in uphill sprint against Sergio Henao.


The crucial move was made when Movistar made the race hard on the Alto Guiguillano, the hardest climb of the day which came with 70km to go. Nairo Quintana did a lot of damage on the front while also bringing the early break back. The Colombian drifted backwards when the attacking started near the top, with Hugh Carthy (Caja Rural) and Karol Domagalski (ONE) all being active.


The peloton splintered under the pressure and as they approached the summit, Izagirre was always near the front. He was quick to react when Sebastian Henao (Sky) took off witg Carthy on his wheel.


Henao and Carthy were brought back and instead another Sky rider gave it a go. Vasil Kiryienka was next to try and he created the decisive 11-rider group. Both Henaos were there for Sky while the Izagirres and Visconti had made the move for Movistar. Katusha had Sergey Chernetskii and Egor Silin while Moreno Moser (Cannondale), Pello Bilbao (Caja Rural) and Domagalski (ONE) were without teammates. Kiryienka led Domagalski, Gorka Izagirre, Bilbao, Moser, Henao and Ion Izagirre over the top.


Kiryienka flew down the descent and quickly pushed the gap out to 35 seconds before Orica-GreenEDGE, the only ProTeam to have missed the move, started to chase. Damien Howson and Christian Meier did a huge work but they continued to lose ground. More riders rejoined from behind and a bigger group gathered with around 50km to go.


The gap was relatively stable at around 40 seconds and Jose Goncalves (Caja Rural) found himself in no man’s land in between. As Amets Txurruka and Christopher Juul took over the pace-setting for Orica, he decided to wait for the group.


Gorka Izagirre helped Kiryienka and that duo had pushed the gap out to 1.10 with 47km to go where they hit the next climb. Domagalski sprinted ahead to win the KOM sprint ahead of Kiryienka and Izagirre sho continued to set the pace as they headed down the descent. Sebastian Henao also lent a hand.


The gap stabilized at around 1.10 until the balance briefly seemed to tip. With 35km to go, the gap was suddenly down to 45 seconds but it had again gone out to 1 minute when the front group hit a small climb with 30km to go. At this point, Domagalski had been dropped and he was back in the peloton on the lower slopes.


KIryienka and Izagirre ended their work and it was Visconti who upped the pace on the climb. Meanwhile, Adam Yates tried to bridge the gap but he was closely marked by Daniel Moreno (Movistar), with the pair quickly picking up Kiryienka and Izagirre. They were stuck 50 seconds behind the leaders while the peloton was drifting backwards.


Sebastian Henao emptied himself before he left it to his cousin to set the pace. After they crested the summit, the pace went down and this allowed Sebastian to rejoin the group, hitting the front hard to make the group stay away,


The Cannondale pair of Tom-Jelte Slagter and Pierre Rolland joined the Yates group but there was no cooperation. With 25km to go, they were 1.15 behind and it was clear that they were not getting back. The peloton was at 2.20 and was led by Domagalski and James Oram for ONE.


Rolland and Yates both tried to attack from the chase group but with Movistar and Sky riders destroying everything, the group sat up and was back in the fold with 16km to go. ONE was still chasing and quickly got some assistance from Orica.


With 12km to go, the front group hit the final categorized climb with an advantage of more than 2 minutes and as Henao swung off, Visconti surged clear. While he got a solid gap, Henao hesitated and he had to make a hard acceleration to rejoin the Italian with Izagirre on his wheel. Further back, Silin sacrificed himself for Cherntskii until Moser and the latter distanced their two companions. In the peloton, Imanol Estevez (Euskadi) and Rolland made a failed attempt


At the top of the climb, the front trio were20 seconds ahead of Moser and Chernetskii but there was no great cooperation. Further back, the chasers were back together and Silin did a great job to reduce the gap to just 10 seconds.


Visconti sacrificed his own chances until he swung off on a small climb with 5km to go where he left it to Izagirre and Henao to press on alone. Moser and Chernetskii tried to close the gap but could only pick up Visconti along the way.


The five chasers gathered 15 seconds behind the leaders but they never got any closer. At the bottom of the final 800m climb to the finish, the gap was 20 seconds and it was clear that Izairre and Henao would decide the race.


Izagirre led under the flamme rouge and set the pace ll the way up the climb until he launched his sprint from the front. Henao tried to come around but failed and so had to settle for second place. Moser made a late attack to complete the podium, with Visconti rolling across the line in fourth. Carthy and Fabricio Ferrari (Caja Rural) made late attacks from the peloton to make it three Caja Rural riders in the top 10.


The series of Spanish races will continue tomorrow when the sprinters are expected to get a chance in the Vuelta a la Rioja.


A hilly course

The 18th edition of the GP Miguel Indurain was held on a 191.1km course that started in Estella and finished at the Basilica de Puy in the same city. The first part of the race consisted of a relatively flat 72.5km circuit beforethe riders took on a smaller 28.1km circuit that included the category 2 Alto Eraul (3.94km, 4%). Then it was a harder 62.8km circuit with the category 1 Alto Guiguillano (10.6km, 2.8%) and the category 2 Alto de Lezaun (3.9km, 5.5%) in the second half before the riders again did the Eraul circuit,

reaching the summit of the climbjust 9.4km from the finish. In the end they climbed to the Basilica de Puy, going up  a short 700m uphill drag to the line that averaged 8.41%.


All riders that had been registered for the race were present when the peloton gathered under a sunny sky to start the race. As is often the case in hilly one-day races like this, it was a very opening phase start with lots of attacks. After more than 8km of racing, Ramunas Navarduaskas (Cannondale) got the first significant gap, but he was caught again before seven riders briefly surged clear. However, Sky and Caja Rural controlled things, and after 19km of racing it was back together.


13 riders get clear

Both teams changed tactics and came together in an offensive alliance as Xabier Zandio (Sky) and Angel Madrazo (Caja Rural) attacked. Egor Silin (Katusha) and Mikel Bizkarra (Euskadi) tried to join the move, but they never regained contact. Instead, it was Peter Williams (ONE)who joined the lead, but with a lead of just 15 seconds the peloton was not far behind.


On motorsport circuit in Navarra Maxim Belkov (Katusha), Ben King (Cannondale), Mathew Hayman (Orica-GreenEdge), Miguel Angel Benito (Caja Rural), Karol Domagalski (ONE), Eneko Lizarralde (Euskadi), Samuel Caldeira (W52) Victor Etxebarria (Radio Popular), Armands Becis (Rietumu) and Fernando Grijalba (Inteja) bridged the gap before Madrazo won the sprint on the special track. The peloton finally took a breather, and therefore the lead quickly reached 1.10. Jorge Cubero (Burgos) embarked on a suicide mission as he tried single-handedly to close the gap before being swallowed up.


Movistar take control

Movistar took control in the peloton, and therefore the gap was no more than 1.30 after the 48.5km that had been completed during the first hour. It grew steadily and was three minutes when Hayman won the second sprint ahead of Madrazo and Becis. It was unchanged at the bottom of the Ibarra climb and had even grown to 3.20 when Becis beat Caldeira and Lizarralde in the first Meta Volante sprint after 72km of racing.


The gap comes down

Movistar slowly increased the pace, and after 80km of racing they had reduced the gap to 2.20 and it was 2.15 in the bottom of the Eraul climb. At the same time the fast pace continued, with an average speed after two hours of 44.6km/h.


As they went up the climb, the group split up and it was Domagalski who led Madrazo, King and Grijaba across the line in the KOM sprint. The group came back together on the descent where Caldeira made a brief attack.


Quintana brings it back together

Belkov beat Madrazo and Caldeira in the next Meta Volante sprint before he took off in a solo move. However, he was quickly brought back.


In the peloton, Carlos Betancur and Marc Soler were emptying themselves for Movisar and they had reduced the gap to 1.35 at the bottom of the only category 1 climb. While Caldeira and Benito were dropped from the front group, Quintana took over the pace-setting and he made the peloton explode and the gap melt away.


The front group split up but their efforts were all in vain as Quintana brought things back together. That set the scene for more attacks and it was here that the race-winning move was launched.



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