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"We planned to ride for Matteo Pelucchi. After all, he had already won here in 2011.  But the day was very strange.  Our plans had to change completely."

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ALEKSEJS SARAMOTINS

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ALEXEI TSATEVICH

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ASTANA QAZAQSTAN TEAM

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CCC DEVELOPMENT TEAM

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CLASICA DE ALMERIA

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DARIO CATALDO

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IAM CYCLING

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JOSE JOAQUIN ROJAS GIL

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JUAN JOSE LOBATO

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KATUSHA ALPECIN

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LEIGH HOWARD

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MOVISTAR TEAM

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ROOMPOT-CHARLES

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14.02.2016 @ 20:21 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Leigh Howard (IAM) brought a three-year drought to an end when he took his first victory for his new IAM team in a shortened edition of the Spanish one-day race Clasica de Almeria. After windy conditions had forced the organizers to reduce the race to just a 21km criterium in Almeria, he joined forces with teammate Aleksejs Saramotins to create a three-rider break on the final lap of the seven-lap criterium and then he beat Alexei Tsatevich (Katusha) and his teammate in the sprint to claim the seventh win of his career.

 

We have gathered several reactions.

 

Leigh Howard: The plan was to ride for Matteo Pelucchi

"We planned to ride for Matteo Pelucchi,” the race winner for IAM Cycling, Leigh Howard, confided.  “After all, he had already won here in 2011.  But the day was very strange.  Our plans had to change completely.  The wind gusts were very impressive.  Neutralizing the race proved to be a wise decision. 

 

”In the final circuit, the wind was a constant.  It kept changing directions, and it was very dangerous.  It reminded me of the criteriums I raced when I was a younger rider in Australia. 

 

”I am lucky to have had such a strong team around me.  All I had to do was produce my main effort 150 meters from the line.  Personally, I was in ideal conditions.

 

"It was a very strange day, with a crazy amount of wind The race was neutralised and restarted numerous times. Finally we came back to where the hotel is, and we did a circuit race of seven laps. It was again super windy, and the race actually split with one or two kilometers to go in the crosswinds. I was lucky enough that I had good teammates around me, they delivered me and all I had to do was sprint for the last 200m."

 

“Many riders did not want to head out for the race today,” directeur sportif Mario Chiesa said.  “And who could blame them since the wind made it all very dangerous.  We saw the effects as we were following them.  After 35 kilometers, the peloton stopped because the weather just was not going to allow them to race more.  The organization then decided to restart the race, but with just six laps of 3.5 kilometers each.  We knew that between Pelucchi and Howard, we would have a very good chance to score a result.  Being able to change tactics is also a strength of IAM Cycling’s.”

 

Aleksejs Saramotins after third place in Almeria: I was just doing the lead-out

Not one, but two IAM Cycling riders ended up on the podium at the Clasica Almeria.  Aside from the winner Leigh Howard, the Swiss team could also rejoice in Aleksejs Saramotins taking third. 

 

“We stayed perfectly grouped up to the final 500 meters,” Latvian champion Saramotins explained.  I lead Leigh Howard until about 150 meters from the finish.  And he finished off the work in the most beautiful way.  I simply played my role, and I am completely satisfied with third place.  I was surprised no one followed us.  The explanation is likely due to our good form, but also luck certainly had a hand.  In any case, these are two excellent results for the team.”

 

 In-form Alexei Tsatevich looks to Haut-Var after second place in Almeria

In a pared down version of the intended 184 km day of racing, the 29th Clásica de Almería one-day race turned into a shortened circuit race with Team KATUSHA’s Alexey Tsatevich sprinting in for a second place podium position.

 

”I can say I am quite happy with the podium place. Of course, I would have preferred to win today, but a podium at the start of the season is good. It was a hard race because of the wind, but we managed to stay in front in the final. The team was great today and I had very strong support, especially from Egor Silin, Max Belkov and Ilnur Zakarin, who helped me a lot. In the last km IAM Cycling started to prepare their sprint and in the crosswind they were able to go away from the others. I attacked and came to them while in the finish I did my best in sprint,” said Alexey Tsatevich of his second place finish behind IAM Cycling’s Leigh Howard. Third place went to Aleksejs Saramotins, also of IAM Cycling.

 

A strong and dangerous wind blew on course today, picking up sand along the coast and blasting into the peloton. Race organizers originally neutralized the first 15 km of racing, but later took the group back to Roquetas de Mar for a short circuit race, realizing it was impossible to keep to the original route.

 

“We cannot complain with this result. The team did everything for Alexey. In the end three riders were riding for the victory and Alexey was there. He was very attentive in the end when IAM tried to create echelons. They succeeded at 500 meters from the finish but Alexey followed the moves. Three guys got away but Howard was faster. What a crazy race this was. First we started the 184 km race but after 15 km we all realized it was impossible to continue. Never in my life have I seen such a wind. It was impossible to go on for the riders. That’s why the race was neutralized after 15 km. In the end the race was reduced to seven laps of 3.5 km on the urban circuit of Roquetas de Mar. Strange to do such a short race but in the end the fight is still intense and we keep in mind our 2nd place for Alex Tsatevich, ” said team director Xavier Florencio.

 

Today’s podium place for Tsatebich  and yesterday’s for Ilnur Zakarin show that the riders from Team KATUSHA are in strong form in the early season and continue to take their racing and training seriously.

 

”My next race is Haut Var. I feel like I am better and better every day. I’m building my form and I hope I will be really good in short time,” said Alexey Tsatevich.

 

In-form Raymond Kreder proves potential in windy Almeria

The Spanish weekend in Murcia and Almeria was not a great success for Roompot. A place of honor for Raymond Kreder in the extreme weather at Clasica de Almeria was the most noteworthy achievement.

 

The semi-classic on the southern Spanish coast was stopped after an hour on the course. Gusts up to more than 90 kilometers per hour and a sandstorm made for unsafe conditions. "The riders blew off the road," said sports director Erik Breukink. And Johnny Hoogerland wrote on Twitter, "I thought it could not be worse than in Gent-Wevelgem last year. But I was wrong.”

 

After completion of six local laps of about 3.5 kilometers, there was still a sprint in Almeria. Leigh Howard (IAM Cycling) won and Raymond Kreder finished 6th. After his third place on the final stage in Valencia, it was another place of honor within a week for the native of Oudenbosch. Incidentally Kreder was even blown off his bike after the finish by a gust of wind and suffered abrasions to his hip and elbow.

 

First top 10 for new Polish pro continental team in Almeria

Paweł Franczak finished 7th in Spanish one-day race Clasica Almeria for Verva-ActiveJet, later admitting that his result could have been better.

 

“I’m not entirely satisfied. There was a crash on the penultimate lap and I thought it was over.  The guys helped me get myself together and drove me back to the front. It cost me lots of energy and despite being well positioned on the last lap, I couldn’t respond to the IAM Cycling riders’ attack. I didn’t catch the wheel and that was it. The g ood news is that the form is there,” he commented.

 

Young Polish sprinter shows his potential with 9th place in windy Almeria

Due to strong wind, organizers of Clasica Almeria decided to shorten the race to only 21 kilometers. In this unusual event, Eryk Latoń finished 9th. It was first race of the 2016 season for the 22-year old. 

 

”The plan was to set up a lead-out for me and my teammates did everything they could to help me get a good position for the sprint. But the wind was enormous today and it was very hard to do. Riders were almost falling because of it,” Eryk Latoń said afterwards. “When Mateusz Taciak and Nikolay Mihaylov moved up at the head of the bunch, the wind practically blew them away. With two laps remaining it was only me, Barłomiej Matysiak and Maciej Paterski, who were left in the first group. We were sitting behind Katusha, but when IAM Cycling attacked in the finale, the field broke apart. I arrived at the line in the top 10, so I can be satisfied with that result. Especially if I take into consideration the fact that it was my first race of the season. 

 

”The last time when I experienced such a strong wind was in Morocco, but then they cancelled the race. We thought that the organizers in Almeria would  do the same. We were sitting in the bus waiting for the final decision and we were in a little shocked when our DS, Gabriele Missaglia, informed us that in 15 minutes we were doing a city criterium. We had to quickly get ready mentally to go and compete.”

 

Bartłomiej Matysiak was 17th and Maciej Paterski 21st.

 

No glory for Jose Joaquin Rojas and Juan Jose Lobato in windy Almeria

Polemics overshadowed the 29th Clásica de Almería on Sunday, continuation to racing in southeastern Spain after Alejandro Valverde's second place in the Vuelta a Murcia. The Andalusian event was strongly affected by wind, blowing from early in the morning with gusts over 70kph which already forced a meeting in Almería prior to the race including organisers, the race jury, riders and teams.

 

After choosing to keep the original route unchanged (184km) and covering - with dangerous lateral and head winds - less than 30 kilometers during the first hour of racing, a series of horrible gusts forced the peloton to stop and look for shelter, as they headed back to the finish place in Roquetas de Mar. "The crosswinds were so strong that you could make your bike become a sail and be expelled to the ditch if you didn't ride strong or remained still," explained DS José Luis Arrieta after the temporary neutralisation. "I even had to save some riders from the wind with the team car to prevent them from crashing before it was decided to go back."

 

Around the Reino de España avenue, where a circuit finish was already scheduled, a new, 21-kilometer race was proposed with six laps of the original loop, with Leigh Howard (IAM) taking the better from a bunch sprint. Even on that urban course, winds were so strong that splits in the field were inevitable. José Joaquín Rojas was the Movistar Team's best performer and only rider able to survive in the first group, 10th over the finish line.

 

“Today it was a real shame in Almeria. Let us hope that next year all will go well and we can do the classic like God intended,” Lobato tweeted after the race

 

Dario Cataldo: Our goal was to honour the race

“The weather conditions were very difficult today with gusts of wind that were putting our safety in serious danger,” explained Astana’s Dario Cataldo. “Nonetheless, we did our best to honour the commitment of the organizers and we tried to do the race anyway.

 

“Then we went straight to the final circuit in Almeria, the wind was so strong even there and the race was much shorter than we thought but it was a real race for sure. In the final kms we tried to enter in the numerous attacks but we weren't lucky. At least it was positive not having injuries (only Kangert crashed but without consequences) and we have also honored the race and the organizers.”

 

BMC: The Clasica de Almeria shows that we need better weather protocols

The Clasica de Almeria was affected by strong winds today forcing organizers to cancel the race and restart as a 6-lap criterium in Almeria.

 

“The extreme weather conditions had been forecast prior to the race, however in respect to the organizers we made the decision to start. At the 30 kilometer mark the riders passed through a section we predicted to be particularly bad and it was not safe for the race to continue.” BMC Racing Team Sport Director Jackson Stewart said.

 

“As the race was set to finish with two laps of a 3.5 kilometer circuit, the race organizers announced that a six lap criterium on this course would take place in lieu of the original race. All of the riders were motivated to race but due to the extreme weather conditions and safety concerns we were unable to obtain a result.”

 

“The safety of riders comes before anything and the race situation today is a good example of the need to enforce better weather protocols at races.”

 

BMC Racing Team will line up next in Spain at the Ruta Ciclista del Sol from February 17-21.

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